Kristen Kieffer, author and creative writing coach, agreed to be a part of our Author Interview series! She’s best known for her website, Well-Storied, which is dedicated to helping writers finish their novels and actually submit them for publication.
Let’s see what she had to say!
Who Is Kieffer?
So, first things first: you’re an author and a creative writing coach. Could you tell us a little about what you do?
Absolutely! First and foremost, I’m an author. I write speculative fiction, though most of my projects fall into the medieval fantasy vein. I’m currently working on two passion projects: The Books of Maveryn quartet and The Dark Between series, both of which I plan to begin indie publishing within the next two years.
I also work as a creative writing coach through my website, She’s Novel, which will actually become Well-Storied on January 31st. My mission for my work is to help writers craft novels that will endear readers, excite publishers, and launch their writing careers. It’s an absolute passion of mine!
In addition to my blog archives and weekly subscriber newsletter, I also publish digital workbooks and video workshops that helps authors write, edit, and publish their novels and build their very best writing lives.
You also sell ebooks, workshops, mugs and “The Novel Planner.” What is the novel planner, exactly? How does it help authors?
The Novel Planner is a daily planner that I created specifically to help writers achieve their dreams. It features monthly and weekly calendar spreads, a reference guide that can be used to outline and plan for up to two novel projects, and a brainstorming and research section for organizing writerly inspiration.
Your blog is downright beautiful and informational. Your entire site is, really. How did you start your blog, where did you get the idea?
Oh, thank you so much!
I began writing in 2012, but it wasn’t until late 2014 that I began actively studying the craft. I had run a few small blogs in the past, so it was only natural that I found myself wanting to start a new site to share all that I was learning.
I launched She’s Novel on January 31st, 2015, and within a few months (and much to my surprise) it began to really pick up steam. By June, I decided to take a chance and quit my soul-sucking day job in order to pursue a freelance career. I’ve been mentoring writers via my blog and resources ever since!
You encourage those pursuing a professional writing career to set scary goals. Why is that?
You don’t grow from your comfort zone.
A lot of writers have big dreams. They want to build careers as novelists, hit a bestseller list, go on a book tour. But those things don’t happen unless you break them down into actionable steps that challenge you to constantly better yourself and your stories.
And so that’s where the term “scary goals” comes from. It doesn’t always feel safe and comfortable to step outside your comfort zone, but doing so is how you make your writing dreams a reality.
Did you set scary goals for yourself?
Oh, absolutely! In fact, I often go too big and aim for goals that are simply unrealistic (usually involving how much I can do in a short period of time–whoops!). But hey, that’s why reflection and reevaluation are so important.
My 2017 goals currently include completing three revision drafts on two different fiction projects and publishing my first full-length writing reference book!
Speaking of which, how did you start doing what you do? What steps did you take to get where you are?
After starting my website in early 2015, I decided to throw up a short PDF ebook just to see if my readers would even be interested in purchasing a paid product. I literally sold the thing for a buck! And sales did come in, which absolutely shocked me.
I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, and seeing those initial sales come in brought that spirit to life. I began reading every resource I could find on freelancing and running an online business while I saved every extra penny from my day job. In June 2015, I decided to say goodbye to the barista life and give myself 6 months to make a freelance career a reality.
During those 6 months, I launched three paid ebooks and The Novel Planner and collaborated on a resource bundle. I haven’t looked back since! 2016 was a year of experimentation for me (I tried out SO many income avenues), and now 2017 is the year that I scale back and streamline my business. I plan to shift from my role as a creative writing coach into a more specific role as an author of writing reference books.
Clearly, you’re a busy girl, and you have a lot of fans on social media. How do you market yourself to maintain your dream?
Marketing is all about serving your customers–or in my case, my fellow writers. This makes marketing a lot of fun for me because I get to focus on building community and offering epic value with people I relate to.
My blog in itself has become a marketing tool for my paid resources, as well as the weekly tip-packed newsletters I send out to subscribers. I also run Your Write Dream, a Facebook group for writers looking to achieve their writing dreams, and #StorySocial, a weekly Twitter chat for writers.
I also try to make sure that I’m not shoving my brand or my products down writers’ throats. Marketing becomes so much more powerful for online freelancers when you market yourself. People like purchasing from brands (or in this case, freelancers) they know and trust. I try to be as open, honest, and human with my readers as possible. They’re friends, not numbers on a sales chart.
If you could do anything else in life, what would it be?
Oh, that’s so tough! I don’t think I could ever stop writing, that’s for sure. But if I couldn’t write for a living, I would probably work as a freelance website designer. I’ve wanted to be self-employed for near as long as I can remember, and website design is a hobby of mine that I’m still actively improving. Put the two together, and I think we have my alternate career!
We have quite the aspiring writer fanbase. Is there any advice you’d like to share with them?
Sure! My favorite piece of advice I like to share is this: make your writing a priority.
Success is not asking yourself what you want, but what you would like to achieve more than anything in the world. If you truly want to publish a book, you have to buckle down and give your writing the time and attention it deserves.
For me, this means keeping a daily writing habit. My goal is a minimum of 200 written words or 10 minutes of writing-related work, though most days I do more. I’ve been keeping this habit since February 2015, so I’ve now written over 650 days straight!
All writers should work on finding the schedule and process that works best for them. You don’t have to write every day like I do, but you do have to start actively working on putting your writing first. That’s how you grow as a writer and finally finish that book you’ve been working on.
Where can readers follow you, or get in touch for help?
My digital homebase is Well-Storied, where writers can find dozens of free resources, blog articles, and more. I can also be found on Facebook, Pinterest. Readers can get in touch directly by emailing me at [email protected].
We’d like to take a moment to thank Kristen Kieffer for agreeing to an interview! It was a pleasure asking her questions, and getting such informational answers. It is our hope that her 2017 goals go off without a hitch. It’s also our hope that readers out there will find some valuable advice, or information in this interview that helps them set their course towards promising writing careers.