Indie Author Of The Month; Kim M Watt

Hello and welcome to another Indie Author of The Month post! At the end of each month I highlight an indie author I happen to think is rather wonderful. This is usually because I have read their books and been following them online for some time. For June, please welcome author Kim M Watt. First, let me say that Kim writes books I wouldn’t normally make a beeline for. Humour and fantasy. Not that I don’t like either, but I’m usually more drawn to YA or gritty, dark kinds of books. I was attracted to Kim’s books because of the snippets and graphics she posts on social media, all of which made me smile and want to give these unusual books a go. I have particularly fallen in love with her Gobbelino London series. To find out more, read on!

1. Tell us about your latest release. What is it about and who is it aimed at?

My latest book is Gobbelino London & a Contagion of Zombies, which is book two in the Gobbelino London series. It’s an immensely fun series to write, about the adventures of a feline PI and his human sidekick on the streets of Leeds. Contagion is (surprise!) about an unexpected rising of the dead, resulting in stress-baking reapers, irate magicians, zombie chickens, and some issues of undeadness for our team. It’s aimed at anyone who enjoys a light take on the PI genre, heavily salted with mayhem, humour, and cat hair.

2. Tell us about your publishing journey so far.

I’ve had a few attempts at traditional publishing (starting with a truly terrible vampire novel at 16), but a few years ago I became interested in indie publishing. I like the degree of control it affords the author, and as I’m a reasonably fast writer it also suits me. Plus, as my stories are a bit … quirky, shall we say? Weird has also been used… Anyhow, they don’t fit any one genre that well, so it’s tricky to sell them traditionally. So indie just seemed like a good fit all round. I published my first cozy mystery with dragons about 18 months ago, and it’s just been a really interesting and fun learning curve ever since.

3. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

Ooh, always! I grew up on a boat in the South Pacific for quite a few years, so was on the NZ correspondence schooling system. Those being the days of very slow post, we sometimes lost incoming coursework. My solution was to write (and illustrate) a book of short stories. Although I may have been trying to avoid my mum’s maths questions by saying I was writing, too.

4. What is your typical writing day like?

I’m really lucky in that I’m able to write fulltime at the moment, so a typical day for me is up around 6 (earlier if the cat feels I’m slacking on food duty), work out or run, breakfast, then write for about 4 to 5 hours. I don’t write every day, but when I’m on writing or rewriting, that’s my time frame to hopefully get a couple of chapters done. I’m not too hard and fast on word counts, but that’s my goal. The rest of the day is then blog posts, social media, newsletters – whatever else needs doing.

5. What is your writing process? (how do you plot a book, come up with characters, find motivation etc)

Right. Yes. My process. *Tries to look like she knows what she’s talking about*

My process is … messy. I’ve tried really hard to learn to plot, and have done everything from plot gardening to circle-y things to Beat Sheets and everything else I’ve come across, including using a small forest’s worth of Post-it notes (I’m sorry, trees).

My conclusion is that it doesn’t work for me, certainly not in the first draft. My best writing is to have a start point and a vague idea of where I want to end up, then I just start writing. I find by hand works really well, or fast typing without correcting anything (and I’m a terrible typist. It’s almost as bad as my handwriting). The characters tell me about themselves as I go along, and that tends to shape the story. I’m mostly just along for the ride at this stage.

I then go back for at least one major rewrite before I send the story out to beta readers, and that’s where I use a Beat Sheet as a reference point to make sure I’m hitting plot points at about where I should be. Motivation is rarely a problem when I work this way – by the time I start writing I’ve usually had an idea rolling around in my head for a few weeks or months, and I have so much fun watching it take shape on the page that I look forward to sitting down. When I try to plot, on the other hand … not so much fun.

6. What has been the most positive thing about your publishing journey so far?

The online writing community. It’s the most supportive and wonderful collection of people – it makes me feel so lucky to be a part of it. I also love how social media means you can chat to readers – it makes the whole process so personal and lovely.

7. What has been the most negative thing about your publishing journey so far?

I’m not sure I’d call it negative exactly, but it’s All The Other Stuff you have to learn – from formatting to figuring out what you want covers to look like to trying to work out why your website suddenly started eating all your photos. There’s a lot!

8. Who is your favourite character from your own books and why?

Aw, that’s hard! I love all of them for different reasons. Gobbelino because he’s just such a cat, and so much fun to write. Beaufort because he’s so optimistic and gentle and fierce all at once. Glenda, who joined the Apocalypse on her Vespa, and who hasn’t told me her full story yet, but I know she will.

9. Where do your ideas come from?

An amazing amount come from Twitter. Gobbelino London started as one of those games that go around – the name of your first pet plus the last place you went on holiday. The Beaufort Scales series was a combination of a tweet I misread (it was about being barbecued by dragons if you went near their hoard, and I thought it was about dragons hoarding barbecues) and a strange discussion with my dad regarding the Beaufort Scale. Anything can be an idea, really.

10. What can we expect from you next?

I have the third Gobbelino London book due out in August, and a fifth Beaufort book towards the end of the year.

11. Tell us three fun facts about you

This is the hardest question yet!

– I’m originally from New Zealand, but haven’t actually lived there all that much.

– The Little Furry Muse (aka Layla the cat, and inspiration behind many snarky feline characters) has been with me for over 10 years, and in that time has lived in three different countries, ten houses, and two campervans.

– I’ve had all sorts of non-writing jobs, including teaching SCUBA diving, teaching sailing, cooking on sailing yachts in the Caribbean, and being bosun on a superyacht. Writing’s still the most fun.

12. What is the best advice you could give to aspiring writers?

Finish your writing. Accept it won’t be perfect, but know when you’ve done the best you can, and put it down. Otherwise you’ll be adding dragons and taking away pixies for another 326 drafts. And celebrate everything. Every draft, every rewrite, every edit. They all deserve celebrating.

Plus drop the “aspiring” bit, unless you’ve actually not written anything at all yet. And in that case – just start. That’s the scariest bit, so just start anywhere. And then you’re a writer 🙂

Thank you so much for inviting me to interview!

Thanks so much Kim for joining me on the blog. If you would like to find out more about Kim and her books, the links are below!

Website: https://kmwatt.com/

Books links: https://kmwatt.com/my-books/

Social Media, Distraction and Guilt

Me and social media have had a bumpy ride to date. There was the initial stand off, followed by sluggish efforts, which were then followed by a relationship that can only be described as love/hate. In this day and age, social media is essential for indie authors who want to connect with more readers and build a following. I accepted this early on, but I didn’t have to like it. It felt really odd in the beginning. I needed to be active on as many sites as possible, but didn’t really want to be on any. The whole networking thing was a complete mystery to me and I didn’t know where to start. And then when I did make the brave move of starting this blog, joining Twitter and setting up a Facebook author page, I found I had two main problems. I didn’t know what to post and when I did post, I was just talking to myself!

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These days things are very different. I’m happy to report I now have a far more positive and realistic relationship with social media. I have my little following, for which I am extremely grateful. I have learned what to post and when to post, and hopefully, I maintain likes, follows and engagement, by posting interesting things!

The problem I have these days is a little different, and it might be one you are familiar with. Social media, now that I have fully embraced it, is one major distraction, for which I feel endless amounts of guilt. Know the feeling?

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As a new author, I started with this blog, Facebook and Twitter, but I obviously wanted to spread the word far and wide, so I collected a few more here and there. Goodreads, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Wattpad. And just last week, I added a shiny new one to the social media collection, Instagram.

I thought it would kick me up the bum a bit to try a new one. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, and all that. And as I already mentioned, the problem I have these days is rather different to the one I had in the beginning, where I viewed promoting via social media as a kind of cold sell out that somehow devalued what I was trying to do. These days, the problem is it is too tempting to be on as many as possible and for as long as possible!

It’s great that I genuinely enjoy social media these days, but it can be incredibly addictive and it can be hard to strike the right balance.

A while back I deleted Facebook from my phone as I was scrolling through my feed and posting things all through the day, and this was making me feel constantly depressed and angry about the state of the world, as well as terribly guilty for being on my phone whilst I have a beautiful little boy to care for.

I felt much better after it was gone. I limited myself to social media in the evenings only, a bit before writing and a bit after.

But now I’ve got Instagram on the phone. And…um, Facebook is back too.

I have to be strong though, and keep reminding myself that I am on both of them for business, ie book promoting reasons, only. I don’t have the time to go scrolling through feeds all day and missing time with my child. If I only have a few minutes here and there in the evening, then that’s all I’m going to get. Of course, I would love to spend hours and hours on social media, finding interesting articles on Twitter and Medium to share to my pages. I would love to be pinning all day and adding to my boards, and I won’t even go into how joining Instagram has had me viewing everything in hashtags since last week. It’s just weird!

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So, how to you avoid getting totally distracted by social media and then feeling guilty as a result? My advice is to set yourself rules and stick to them!

You don’t need to post on all of them, all of the time. I posted on Instagram for the first time a few days ago. I decided to start off I would post a series of photos in the style of a ‘day in the life’ type thing, I took pictures of things that happen in my life every day, ie walking dogs, baking, gardening, parenting, and at the and of the busy day, writing followed by reading. This was really fun to do. But now I intend to leave it alone until I next think of something worth posting, for example, scenes that inspire or are in my books, front covers, extracts of work, events and so on. I don’t want to get addicted to it as a site.

The same applies to Pinterest. It is very addictive and a lot of fun to play around with, but I only dip in and out when I need to. This is the sort of site you can totally ignore until you need to make use of it. I update the boards when I have a reason to, and will be paying much more attention to the site when I have a new book to launch and promote.

There are going to be times when it is much more important to use certain social media sites, such as when a new book is coming together or about to be launched. But my advice would be the rest of the time, to stick to the three that you deal with daily or weekly, and take a break from the rest.

It’s not a good idea to dip in and out of all of them for example, so if Facebook and Twitter are your thing, then stick with them, and post consistently and engagingly in order to build a loyal following. Just don’t feel like you have to be doing this all day every day with ALL of the sites you are on.

My last piece of advice? Give yourself one day or night totally OFF. I’m the sort of person that would be writing all day every day if I could. I hate not writing and when I am not writing, I always wish I was writing and I am constantly thinking about writing. This includes time spent increasing my social media content. But once a week I turn it all off and step away from the wi-fi. It’s a no go area, and it really does me the world of good. I curl up with my kids, leave my phone off, watch TV and chill out.

It genuinely feels like a day off ‘work’ and of course, we all need those.

Please feel free to comment or share! How many social media sites are you on? Do you feel guilty about the amount of time you spend on them? How do you strike a balance between work, social media and home life?