K.J. Howe – Third Entry

Happy 2017!  New Years is the ideal time for new beginnings, and I’m excited about what’s ahead for this year.

February 7th.

Release day.  People will visit their local bookstores and THE FREEDOM BROKER will actually be there on the shelves.  Anyone who pre-ordered online will receive the book.  After a dynamic journey, I will be able to hold my novel, read it for the first time in hardcover and eBook.  A special day, and I’m most appreciative of this opportunity. 

At ThrillerFest this year, we’ll be celebrating reaching our Debutona—as in a Daytona 500 moment.  Imagine that!  Since we started the conference twelve years ago, we’ve now shepherded and supported over 500 new thriller authors to publication.  I’d love to see more aspiring writers enjoy this magical moment of holding their books, so let’s delve a little more into what’s happening on the road to publication.

Perhaps the number one asset for being an author today is to become a gold medalist in multi-tasking.  Seriously.  It’s crucial to allow yourself to be a complete introvert so you can hibernate in your writing cave, finish your books, meet your deadlines (I’m currently working on SKYJACK, book two of the Thea Paris series), and then quickly transform into your extroverted self to do interviews, blogs, and other promotional opportunities.  Not an easy balance, as many authors are quiet people who shy away from the limelight. 

The best suggestion I can offer here is to do promotional events that you’re comfortable with and slowly build your media skills one interview at a time, analyzing how you can improve for your next opportunity.  Just like anything, practice helps.  Consider your first attempts at writing.  Did stellar prose flow from your fingers or did you have to work hard at your craft?  Same thing for publicity.  It’s a new skill, a fascinating world—and the good news is that even if you are shy, you’re discussing something you are passionate about.  That’s the approach I’m trying to take. 

I’ve researched kidnap and ransom for a few years now and I’d like to raise awareness about a key issue: the fact that many hostages around the world are still held in captivity and need our help.  Also, my character Thea Paris has type 1 diabetes.  Diabetes affects 371 million people across the globe, and it’s important for individuals to know the signs and symptoms so they can help their loved ones.  So I have two specific topics that I can discuss during an interview, issues I’m informed about.  How does this translate into helping other new authors?  If you’re uncomfortable focusing on your book, step aside from it and channel your enthusiasm into a cause or effort related to your book.  It’s often easier to champion others rather than ourselves, and this approach might help. 

In the vein of getting the word out, let’s take a little trip abroad.  I’m really enjoying learning about the international world of publishing.  My agent has sold THE FREEDOM BROKER in Germany, Poland, and Croatia, and we’re working on other countries.  I can’t wait to see my book with a Polish title and new cover—the thought of someone in Warsaw reading my novel is rather exciting.   I also find it fascinating that the U.K. market differs so much from the North American one that they design entirely-new covers.  I’ve included the new U.K. cover beside my US one to show you the differences:

New country, different tastes.  But this is good news.  You might be able to become a bestseller in one country, and then branch out to another.  And it demonstrates the hard fact that it’s impossible to please everyone all the time.  Even the iconic Lee Child, our 2017 ThrillerMaster, doesn’t have the blockbuster success in France that he does worldwide—even though Reacher’s mother is French.  Hard to explain that one, but there it is. 

Now that we’ve seen a bit of the world, let’s go back to our writing cave.  Authors spend a lot of time alone.  It’s an absolute must to get work done.  We dream up stories, characters, leave it all on the page and hope it’s enjoyed.  But we never truly know what the response will be from readers.  Receiving positive feedback is an incredible gift and, in this challenging business, we need to celebrate every ounce of encouragement. 

I had a lovely experience recently that I’d like to share.  The Real Book Spy, Ryan Steck, is a thriller enthusiast with a brilliant website that support our genre via reviews, articles, best-of-lists, and lots more.  A father of five and former sports journalist, Ryan decided to switch to the thriller genre because of his passion for Vince Flynn’s books.  When Ryan read an ARC of THE FREEDOM BROKER, he was quite enthusiastic about Thea Paris and her group of K&R operatives.  His lovely wife Melissa doesn’t generally read thrillers but, after hearing his praise, she kindly read my book.  I’m quite grateful she enjoyed it, and their shared enjoyment brought them together; Ryan was so pleased to be able to talk about a book with his lovely wife.  I’ve found such joy in reading books, and the thought of others realizing happiness because of my book makes my day.

With my release coming very soon, we’re working hard on promotion.   People need to know about a book if they are to purchase it.  Because I’m a debut author, it’s tough to schedule bookstore events by myself.  Instead, my brilliant publisher Quercus is sending me on an “in conversation with” tour in the U.S. where I’m paired with a bestselling authors in different cities.  I’ll be kicking off the tour with Lee Child in NYC on February 7th at 7pm at the Mysterious Bookshop.  If you live nearby, please come join us. 

Several talented authors are kindly hosting me in their home towns, a very generous gift, which demonstrates just how wonderful ITW is.  Established authors support new ones, and then hopefully everyone pays it forward.  This tour will allow me to learn new skills which, in turn, gives me another opportunity at new beginnings, something I’m most grateful to experience. 

My tour dates are below.  I’d love to see you there!

In the next installment, I’ll share what life is like on the road.

KJ Howe is an avid tennis player, cyclist, and swimmer. Travel and adventure still rank high on her priority list. She has had the pleasure of riding racing camels in Jordan, surfing in Hawaii, ziplining in the Costa Rican jungle, diving alongside Great White Sharks in South Africa, studying modern combat in the Arizona desert, and working with elephants in Botswana. Home is in Toronto, Canada, but she is often missing in action.

To pre-order a copy of THE FREEDOM BROKER, click here.