When I first came across Kate Hilton’s publication story I was out of the query trenches but deep into the submission process, and trying to balance ALL THE THINGS that come with being a work-at-home writer mom. Not only did her book premise resonate with me (key word: BALANCE), the fact that she’s a fellow Canadian author was exciting — finally, someone else who puts a ‘u’ in favourite! 🙂
Kate’s publication journey is an interesting one — she self-published her first novel, THE HOLE IN THE MIDDLE (read more about her process below), achieved great success, and was then offered a traditional publishing contract with HarperCollins — so she’s seen the process from both sides, and has some great insight into what it takes to make self-publishing work (hint: it takes A LOT of work).
Here’s the blurb for THE HOLE IN THE MIDDLE:
Sophie Whelan is the kind of woman who prides herself on doing it all. In a single day, she can host a vegan-friendly and lactose-free dinner for ten, thwart a PTA president intent on forcing her to volunteer, and outwit her hostile ‘assistant’ in order to get her work done on time.
With her fortieth birthday looming, and her carefully coordinated existence beginning to come apart at the seams, Sophie starts to wonder if she might expect a little more help from her husband, Jesse. He’s awfully busy at work, though, and spending every waking hour on a project with his dangerously sexy business partner.
The last thing Sophie needs is a new complication in her life. But when an opportunity from her past suddenly reappears, Sophie is forced to confront the choices she’s made and decide if her chaotic life is really a dream come true—or the biggest mistake she’s ever made…
And here’s more about why Kate decided to self-publish, her number one piece of advice, and what’s next for her …
Tell us about how/why you decided to self-publish?
I didn’t want to put myself through the frustration of a second submission process! A year before I self-published, I had tried very hard to find an agent, and I’d failed miserably. I didn’t see any reason why I would have more success the second time around. My original query letter was good, and I’d had done my research and targeted agents I felt were a good fit for the book. Also, the book itself was as strong as I believed I could make it.
I knew that I was at a huge disadvantage in an extremely tough market, as a completely unknown writer from Canada. There was no reason for anyone to take a risk on me. I thought that if I self-published, I would at least be creating a presence for myself in the publishing landscape, which might help with my next book.
What was the most challenging aspect of self-publishing? The most rewarding?
The most challenging aspect of self-publishing is internal. It takes enormous courage to put your work into the world without the stamp of approval that a publisher gives you. In your secret heart, you really don’t know if your book is good enough, and often you suspect that it isn’t (because if it were, you think, someone would have agreed to publish it).
Overcoming this fear of unworthiness is, I believe, the biggest obstacle that self-published writers face; and you are required to confront it over and over again, every time your promote your book (which is daily, and often multiple times a day).
The good news is that conquering the fear of failure is the most rewarding aspect of self-publishing. My confidence in the quality of my work is much higher now. So, too, is my resilience. Building courage is a virtuous circle; the more you confront the things that frighten you, the less frightening they become.
What advice would you offer an author who is considering self-publishing? What’s the #1 thing you wish you’d known before you published?
The advice I give EVERY writer is to make sure that any work you put out, in any form, is your very best. There is no substitute for professional editing, and it should be part of every self-published writer’s budget. A professional editor will also give you an objective perspective on the quality of your manuscript, and help you think about the right next step for you and your book.
The #1 thing I wish I’d known is how incredibly time-consuming the marketing aspect of self-publishing would be. Marketing through social media is powerful, but to achieve results, you need to invest a lot of time, and invest it consistently. And, of course, that takes time away from the business of writing the next book. Even as a traditionally published writer, I still struggle to find a balance between creation and promotion.
Have you ever met someone you idolized? What was it like?
I have! One of my favourite writers lives in my city, and we went to the same law school. Our law school decided to have an event featuring alumni authors, and we presented together on the panel. I was, frankly, in awe, but managed to be coherent enough that we hit it off and became friends. And over time, he has become an incredibly important mentor to me, and I’ve relied on his excellent career advice on many occasions. It has been such a gift.
What’s up next for you?
I’m right in the middle of my second novel right now. I’m also working on a non-fiction project called The Pen Pal Project. It’s a series of letters to and from my friend and fellow writer, Reva Seth. You can catch up on our correspondence at https://www.facebook.com/ourpenpalproject.
Lastly, I’m looking forward to the re-release of The Hole in the Middle in Canada on May 5th and the American launch of The Hole in the Middle in January 2016. I can’t wait!
Thanks for stopping by the Ball Kate, and best of luck with your novel’s re-release and U.S. launch!
GIVEAWAY: Comment on this post by Noon (EST) on Tuesday, April 21st to win a copy of THE HOLE IN THE MIDDLE (North America). Winner will be announced on Karma’s Wednesday, April 22nd blog post. Follow The Debutante Ball on Facebook and Twitter for extra entries—just mention that you did so in your comments. Good luck!
The Hole in the Middle is Kate Hilton’s first novel. Before turning to fiction, Kate worked in law, higher education, public relations and major gift fundraising. She has an English degree from McGill University and a Law degree from the University of Toronto. She is a working mother, a community volunteer, a voracious reader and a pretty decent cook. On good days, she thinks she might have it all. On bad days, she wants a nap. Kate lives with her family in Toronto. Visit Kate’s website, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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