2003, 2004, 2005 & 2006: Named one
of the 101 best Web sites for writers by Writers Digest Magazine.
Question: Your freelancing career is amazing! You have written over 1,000 published articles, essays and stories and garnered over 100 writing awards. Congratulations! What keeps writing fresh and exciting for you?
Kathryn Lay: I guess it's never gotten stale. I love coming up with new ideas, with letting the words flow, with trying to find new or better ways to say something or let a new character lead me around. Part of it is the challenge, some of it is the validation that this is something I can do successfully, some of it is the 'lottery' feeling of receiving an acceptance and check, and there is a thrill to seeing my story, essay, article, or book in print and know someone is reading it and enjoying something I've put together.
Q: When did you start freelancing full time? Was it difficult to "take the plunge?"
Lay: I started writing part time in 1986 when my husband suggested I get back into my childhood hobby/dream. I started selling pieces in 1988, but didn't quit my job and really jump into it until twelve years ago when my daughter came into our lives. I really consider myself a part-time writer still. I've home-schooled and helped run a ministry and done a lot of other stuff with my days, so I don't write and market officially more than 3 hours a day, though many times it's a lot more with added times here and there. I've been lucky that my husband has totally supported me taking this plunge, even though financial security would've been much stronger with me continuing to work another job.
Q: As a well-known children’s author, including your recent release "Crown Me!" what marketing tips do you employ? Any favorite tricks?
Lay: I wouldn't say I'm well-known, though I hope to be someday. I have always kept watch on market information, through writers' magazines, Web sites, e-zines, and what I get from SCBWI. I watch for new publications that are talked about by friends and family. I spend one day a month specifically on marketing; keeping up with the new market info I've gathered, looking for places to send out new and reprint pieces.
Whenever I see information about a market seeking writers, I mentally go through my writing to see what might fit. More often, I go through dozens of disks to see what I might have that needs to go out again. I also make a marketing list for each thing I write or each query, and then if one is rejected, I know exactly where I'll be sending it next. When it sells, I start a reprint list for after it's published.
As far as marketing my books, I leave that up to my agent most of the time now. Though, if I meet an editor at a conference or something, I certainly will suggest she send them something.
Q: You juggle many things, including your family and writing career. Do you share your secrets to successful juggling in your e-book "The Organized Writer is a Selling Writer?" What other organizational tips can you share with us?
Lay: I share a lot of my organization secrets; more on the writing and idea forming of it, but also a little of the time organization and planning as well. My biggest organization help is probably my Marketing Day strategy as mentioned above. On that day, I push away the guilt of not writing (which I struggle with if I miss a day or two) and concentrate on marketing: reading about it, preparing query letters, sending out manuscripts.
Q: Is there any type of writing that is more challenging for you? Are there genres you would never want to attempt? Why or why not?
Lay: I rarely write things that I find too challenging, but sometimes I've written feature how-to type articles that require lots of expert interviews and heavy planning. I can do them, but I don't enjoy them as well as I do personal experience writing and fiction. I would never attempt romance novels because I don't read them. I don't read a lot of super edgy YA, so unless I came up with an idea that pounded into me, I wouldn't attempt to write Chick-Lit or Edgy YA.
Q: What or who inspires you most as a writer?
Lay: Acceptance letters.J Truly, the reason I still write articles, essays, and magazine fiction is mostly that it keeps me going as I'm working toward becoming a full-time children's book writer. I do enjoy writing the short things a lot, but it's the continued acceptances that keep me feeling that, yes, someone likes my writing and it CAN sell. My faith in God also inspires me, as I believe that my writing ability is a gift from Him.
Q: In your opinion, what was your greatest achievement so far?
Lay: Definitely the sale of CROWN ME!, my first kid's novel. It's been a dream since I was in grade school to have a book that kids read. It's given me the satisfaction of seeing a dream come true, holding that book in my hand, sitting at a bookstore and autographing it, reading portions of it to kids.
Q: With all that you’ve accomplished, is there anything you aspire to? What are some of your future goals? What are you working on now?
Lay: I definitely would like to be making a full-time living off it, really helping to support our family. And my goal is to be known as a children's author that kids recognize and that when my next book comes out, kids and librarians buy it because they know it'll be a good, fun, interesting read. I'm currently working on several short stories, essays for an anthology series, a few magazine articles and queries; but most of all, rewriting several children's books that my agent is beginning to send out—humor, fantasy, religious, science fiction, chapter books, novels...a little of many things.
Q: Do you have any advice for writers or additional comments, Kathryn?
Lay: Read a lot, especially the type of stuff you want to write. Don't give up easily. I've sold some things the first time out, others have gone through dozens of rejections and found homes. Resell those short pieces. Find writing buddies for support and encouragement.
Shaunna Privratsky has authored over 200 articles, including pieces in The Writer, FundsForWriters, Write Success and Absolute Write. Her new book "Pump Up Your Prose" was released November 15th. Check out her acclaimed writer's e-book series and FREE newsletter at The Writer Within at http://shaunna67.tripod.com Learn her money-saving secrets at The Discount Diva while you're visiting.