peeps: Karen Luellen
Karen Luellen — author of the YA Sci-Fi/Fantasy Winter’s Saga series — grew up the middle child, the only girl between two brothers, each with distinctly different personalities. Although she was able to adjust to each brother’s interests and preferences if she wanted a playmate, she still had more than enough time left over by herself, pursuing her own interests. “I created entire worlds of make-believe and adventure with my stuffed animals and books in my bedroom,” she remembers. “Hours of storytelling, personally made sound effects and character voices entertained me to the point of utter happy distraction. Hindsight shows me, I’ve been a storyteller all my life.”
Her penchant for telling stories did not go unnoticed by her family. “My father, now a retired colonel, would tell me to stop telling ‘dinosaur stories.’ Apparently, he just wanted to be briefed. My mom, a psychologist, probably read too much into my stories — especially the one when I was two-years-old and wanted to marry a plant.”
Now a schoolteacher by day, she lives in North Texas with her husband and four children. And despite all that going on, she’s still managed to tell us even more stories: five Winter’s Saga books to date — her latest is Winter’s Scars: The Forsaken — with the sixth and final series installment due in October. Even after this series wraps up, though, I think it’s a pretty sure bet that there’ll be a heck of a lot more Karen Luellen stories to come!
How Karen Got Started Self-Publishing
After Karen finished the first book in her series, it was picked up by a small publisher and placed on its virtual bookshelf. Which, unfortunately, is just where it stayed and languished. “Every time I thought about my pathetic little book that no one ever read except my Mom and a couple friends, I wanted to cry,” she remembers. Needless to say, this was disheartening, and pumping out book #2 in the series wasn’t high on her list of priorities.
Then she broke her hand.
“With all the gracefulness of a washed up beluga whale, I tripped on two small steps and shattered my 5th metacarpal,” she painfully recalls. “I couldn’t write or type at all, so I curled up with my Kindle instead, reading book after book. Some of the books I enjoyed so much, I looked up their publishers to see if maybe I could submit my work to them. The thing is, I often found it was just the authors themselves listed as the publisher. Interesting.”
That got her researching indie publishing and Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing program in earnest. “I learned how to submit my work to Amazon on my own. Through an author’s forum, I found an awesome cover designer. I met other authors willing to share their insights with a newbie like me. The world of KDP Select opened up, and I have been riding my indie wave ever since!“
- “As an indie author, you’re going to have to be more than just an awesome writer. Of course, you have to keep practicing your craft, getting better and better at weaving engaging plots, fleshed-out characters, gripping drama, complex problems and gasp-worthy resolutions. However, you also have to be willing to share yourself with your readers by way of social networking. This is tricky as most of us who write are introverts by nature.”
- “I can’t tell you how many talented writers I’ve met whose work isn’t read by more than a lucky handful because the author is too shy, too unconcerned, too busy writing, or too whatever to open themselves up to their readers. Find the balance between your imaginary world and your real world. Be humble, sincere and human with your readers. Most of all, talk to them like friends and not just ‘fans.'”