~ Interview by Traci Andrighetti
Traci Andrighetti: The two of you write as a team known as “Bob Kat.” Has that always been the case?
Kathy Clark: I wrote my twenty-three romance novels alone and couldn’t imagine writing with a partner. But then I started writing screenplays and discovered that I enjoyed working with one or more partners. It makes a very solitary work environment into a constant brainstorming session. Writing with a partner creates a lot of energy…luckily, with Bob, it’s all positive.
Bob Wernly: Kathy still writes her romantic suspense novels alone, but we co-write the young adult series CUL8R and the new adult series Scandals together.
TA: What is your writing process?
KC: Bob and I have several plotting sessions and make lots of notes about specific plot points and characters. Then he researches any actual historical events and writes a rough draft. He usually gives me about 75 to 100 pages to which I add characterization, romance and color until we reach about 200 pages (single-spaced, 70,000 – 85,000 words).
BW: My value-add is to lay the groundwork, sort of like setting stepping stones in the path. She can wander off the path and explore, fill in the details and add the emotion and subplots, but she always has the path to lead her forward to a satisfactory conclusion.
TA: You write contemporary romance, romantic suspense, young adult and new adult. Which is your favorite, and why?
KC: Each series is very different, and I enjoy them for different reasons. The Denver After Dark romantic suspense series has the deepest, darkest stories that are some of the best work I’ve ever done. And yet I’m also very proud of our CUL8R young adult series because I love the concept of time travel and all of the stories have a very subtle message that will hopefully empower the readers. The new adult series is a lot of fun to write because it is first person, and I can burrow deep inside each character (in his or her book) and experience their feelings up close and personal.
BW: The new adult series is definitely my favorite because they are grown-up stories with lots of action and interesting characters. Writing in first person makes the characters more real and multi-dimensional.
TA: After gaining the rights to your backlist from your traditional publisher, you republished twenty-one of your novels. What has that done for your writing career?
KC: The disadvantage to writing romance novels is that they are on the shelf for only 30 days. It takes as much creativity, time and energy to write them as a book that has long-term shelf life, so it’s tragic that my earlier books were there so briefly, then gone forever. It felt good to give them a second chance at life. I’ve gotten feedback from my old fans who are delighted to be able to revisit the old titles and discover the new ones.
BW: Because it’s more difficult to get discovered in e-book-land, having a larger presence multiplies your chances of getting readership. We believe that once a reader picks up one of Kathy’s books, even the older ones, that they will be impressed with her complicated plots, interesting characters and great writing and want to read her other books. So, it’s a good thing to have as many titles out there as possible to create a loyal fan base.
TA: You also teach classes on indie publishing. What prompted to you to want to teach about your self-publishing experience?
KC: I’m creative. I honestly don’t want to spend my time marketing or figuring out how to get noticed on Amazon or where most people list their books or how to pick key words. It’s all very intimidating, and if I didn’t have Bob to wade through the minutia, I would go crazy. By sharing our discoveries, we help other writers reach their goals. There’s always room for more great books.
BW: Kathy has always loved teaching writing classes. She has done workshops all over the U.S. and even was an adjunct professor of an upper level Media Writing course. I came from the business world and enjoy giving presentations. It seemed a natural progression for us to combine forces to create detailed courses on all elements of writing and publishing. And since the emphasis right now is on indie publishing, we have been focusing on that.
TA: A recent study found that eighty percent of self-published authors earn less than one thousand dollars per year. What is your reaction to this finding?
KC: The e-pub phenomenon is a good news/bad news scenario. It’s good because it offers a terrific showcase for books that might otherwise not make it on the shelves because of the very difficult obstacle course of traditional publishing. Plus, it extends a book’s lifetime without killing trees or bumping someone else off the shelf. However, the bad news is that there are some really awful books being put out that could damage the reputation of self-publishing as a whole. Sometimes I feel like we are the Rodney Dangerfields of publishing…we get no respect. Mystery Writers of America won’t even acknowledge a self-published book, no matter how great it is. We, as authors, have a responsibility to make our work as polished and perfect as possible before we put it out there. If we don’t, then we’re going to lose our market and everyone’s dollars will drop.
BW: It’s difficult to entice a reader to choose your book out of the 2.5 million choices they have on Amazon alone. We all need to work together to build the brand by increasing the quality and finding a new way to draw attention to our books. The whole review/rating system is a joke as it stands right now. And even though the e-publishing sites proclaim their allegiance to indie writers, they give traditional publishing houses priority treatment, special placement, extra categories and free reviews. We need to have a level playing field so great books won’t be overpowered by big-name authors who have big-buck budgets, but don’t necessarily have higher quality projects.
TA: What, in your opinion, is the most important marketing step an author can take?
KC: Put more books on your shelf. You need to keep writing. Fans have short memories, so they need to have several great experiences with your work so they will remember you and make it a point to buy your next book.
BW: Pay attention to your numbers and be creative. Run specials. Bundle books. Experiment with your pricing and your key words and your e-pub sites. Different things work for different types of books, so you have to keep moving until you find your place in the market.
TA: What’s next for BobKat?
KC: I’m almost finished with book #4 in the CUL8R young adult time travel series. It’s called RIP (Rest in Peace) and it’s a ghost story set at the infamous Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado. I’m having lots of fun with it, and I challenge anyone to guess the ending! It should be available by the middle of February, 2014.
BW: I’m almost finished with the first draft of the second book in the new adult Scandals series. Tramp Stamp is Reno’s story and is about rescuing a damsel in distress while falling in love with her sister. Kathy should be taking over as soon as she finishes RIP, and Tramp Stamp should be available for sale in March or April, 2014.
Kathy’s and Bob’s BIOGRAPHIES
Kathy Clark’s 23 women’s fiction (romance) novels have sold over 3 million copies in more than 10 languages and have been on the New York Times’ bestsellers’ list and won her numerous awards.
In September 2012 she launched a new suspense series, Denver After Dark centered on three brothers, one a cop, one a firefighter and one a paramedic. The first book, After Midnight has been named as the Best Indie Suspense of 2013 and won a prestigious 2013 Readers’ Favorite Suspense Award. Cries in the Night is Book #2 in the Series and Graveyard Shift, Book #3 will be released in Fall, 2014.
Also in 2012 Kathy teamed up with her husband Bob Wernly to write a Young Adult Time Travel Mystery/Romance series called CUL8R (See You Later) under the pen name of Bob Kat. Book #1 OMG (Oh My God), when they go back to 1966 to save a girl’s life, was released in October, 2012 and was named as the Best Indie Young Adult Suspense of 2013 and was a Beverly Hills Book Awards finalist. Book #2 BRB (Be Right Back), when they travel back to 1980, recently won First Place in the Readers’ Favorite Young Adult Awards 2013. Book #3 BION (Believe It Or Not), when they go back to 1927 and join a circus to save a boy, was just released in July, 2013. All three books in this series have received rave reviews and 4 and 5 star ratings. Book #4 RIP (Rest in Peace), a ghost story set at the famous Stanley Hotel in 1911 will be released in January, 2014. Also, under the Bob Kat pen name, Kathy and Bob wrote a fictionalized version of his fraternity days at Kent State University in 1970 that mixes the drama of senior year with the first military draft lottery, the Vietnam war and the Kent State shootings. This novel was named as a finalist in the Best Indie Mainstream Book of 2013 Awards.
Kathy and Bob also write a New Adult series called Scandals with the first book Baby Daddy released in November, 2013 and the second book Tramp Stamp scheduled for Spring, 2014.
Kathy is currently a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Romance Writers of America and was on the board of directors of national RWA and Colorado Romance Writers for several years. Her books and screenplays have won numerous awards, including top honors from Romantic Times, Colorado Romance Writer of the Year, two RITAs and several film festival screenwriting competitions. When not writing, she and Bob love to travel, hang out on beaches, spend time with their five sons, go to movies or just play with their dogs and their turtles.
She loves to hear from her fans. Her website is www.NightWriter93.com.
* To learn more about Traci, please visit her website: http://traciandrighetti.com