Welcome to the SNOB – Second Novel Ominipresent Blues. Whether you’re under contract or trying to snag another deal, you’re a professional now, with the pressures of a published novelist compounded with the still-present nagging self-doubt of the noobie. How to deal?
Today’s guest is Karen Ann Hopkins. Karen resides in northern Kentucky with her family on a farm that boasts a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats. Karen’s main job is home schooling the kids, but she finds time to give riding lessons, coach a youth equestrian drill team, and of course, write. She was inspired to create her first book, TEMPTATION, by the Amish community she lived in. The experiential knowledge she gained through her interactions with her neighbors drove her to create the story of the star-crossed lovers, Rose and Noah.
Is it hard to leave behind the first novel and focus on the next?
Thank you for having me! I’m so happy to be here today. I’ve written three second books, two third books, and one fourth book in a series. I guess you can say I’m kind of an old hat at it now. To answer your question, no, writing the second book was always very exciting for me. With each of my series, I ended the first book on a bit of cliff hanger, with a definite lead into the next book. So I was already thinking about the second installment. It’s actually the third book that really gets me. By that point, you have expectations from your readers. And sometimes it’s difficult to write your own story without taking into account how your fans will react. Also, by the time the third book rolls around, the deadlines seem to be tighter, and your writing may be a little forced in places.
At what point do you start diverting your energies from promoting your debut and writing / polishing / editing your next novels?
That’s a great question. It’s a never ending game of writing, editing, and promoting. I wasn’t very savvy about self-promoting when I wrote TEMPTATION and BELONGING, and it affected my sales. By the time I began FOREVER, I’d finally figured out that I needed to set aside a block of time each day, usually two hours, to promote my books. When I changed my mindset about how important the promotion part of being an author is, I saw immediate results in sales and my fan base grew exponentially.
Your first book landed an agent and an editor, and hopefully some fans. Who are you writing the series for? Them, or yourself?
When I wrote BELONGING, I was still very much writing for myself and the story itself. I had so many ideas swirling around in my head about what was going to happen to Rose and Noah. He was Amish. She wasn’t. There were so many aspects of the relationship creating turmoil and so many issues to sort out. I guess you can say that I was a little over stimulated in the creative process for that book. FOREVER was the third book in their story and the one that was going to sort everything out. I was half way through FOREVER before I even decided how to wrap up Rose and Noah’s love affair. And with that book, I was definitely thinking about how my fans would react, what they wanted, and what was really best for the story and characters. It’s much easier to write the beginning of a story than the closure of one, in my opinion. When I began book four in the series, RACHEL’S DECEPTION, which will release on May 19th of this year, it was like going home for me. Fresh story lines and new faces mixed in with much loved characters and an amazing setting, taking the series to higher heights than I ever imagined. And in this case, I had more fun writing RACHEL’S DECEPTION than I did any of the previous books.
Is there a new balance of time management to address once you’re a professional author?
Unfortunately, there’s a lot less time to work with nowadays. I have three series going simultaneously at this point, and it seems that the more books I write, the harder it gets to manage my time. But I won’t complain though. It’s far better to be too busy than the alternative.
What did you do differently post-debut, with the perspective of a published author?
As I said above, I didn’t catch on to the expectations of self-promoting until I reached the third book in the TEMPTATION series. I really wish I’d taken more time to promote TEMPTATION and the ongoing series straight from the beginning. I’ve managed to make up for that time lost, but it was a real uphill battle. My advice to other writers, is to realize that being an author is as much about promotion as it is about writing. It’s imperative to block that time off in your schedule, and just do it. It will make a huge difference in your career.
I love to connect with readers and I’d be happy to answer questions about the Amish way of life or writing in general. Please contact me at my website or you can message me on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.