Many people don’t start out as writers nor do they have training. For many it is a love of reading, and so it is with Kimberly Wenzler. When I sat down with her, we discussed the typical writing formulas and idea generators. I soon found this remarkable woman extremely talented and funny.
As you approached finishing your first book, Both Sides of Love, did you have any expectations / goals?
Hi Suzanne, Thank you so much for having me!
I had no idea what to expect as I wrote Both Sides. I had written two other manuscripts and both were sitting in a drawer. So, my only goal at the time was to finish the book. When I did, I finally felt I had a story worth sharing and gave it to a few readers. When I started to receive their positive feedback, it fueled my desire to move forward.
So I set a new goal to get it published. Over the next two years I learned, through extensive research on the business side of writing (which is never part of that dream when you first put pen to paper) that for a completely new and unknown writer like myself, the chances of getting an agent and getting backed by an established publisher was small if I didn’t have a platform or an edited manuscript. I got some great feedback from several agents who said they couldn’t or wouldn’t devote their resources to me but that my story had much potential.
So, I joined a writers group, hired my own editors, found a fantabulous graphic designer who designed my cover and who also formatted everything for me and in the end, after much revising, decided to self-publish. It was a long process, but I am so happy with the road I chose. Now, my goal is to keep doing what I’m doing.
Now that the Both Sides of Love has been out for a few years, have you ever been tempted to go back and edit? Make it better?
No. I went through an inordinate amount of edits until I couldn’t read it anymore and then had two professional editors work on it with me. I wanted to make sure it was the best it could be. I am proud of the end result.
It’s comparable to having your first child. You make mistakes and learn with him so the next kid gets the benefit of experience. Do you love the first child less? No, he’s still your baby. He just needs a healthier therapy fund.
The closest genres for your books are Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Romance, but these aren’t entirely accurate. Do you find it hard to find the right genre at times to target your market? If so, what have you done?
I do. I love to write stories that intertwine the various relationships that define women: the importance of female friendship, the mother/daughter dynamic, self-acceptance and of course, true love. So, I think Women’s Fiction and Contemporary Romance are the closest fit for me.
I’m waiting for the Book Club genre to be formally instituted. Until then, I’ll hang out where I am and hope to find the readers who are looking for me
What have you done to get the word out about your book (other than the usual Social Media, Blogs and paid advertising)?
At the beginning, I was the textbook example of what not to do.
When I hit “Publish” for the first time in May, 2014, I told no one. I received the confirmation from Amazon in the morning that Both Sides of Love was up for sale. I closed my laptop, went to a yoga class and spent the whole time in down-dog muttering, ohmyGod, ohmyGod, ohmyGod, which I’m pretty sure is not the right mantra for yoga.
I did no pre-release advertising, no pre-publish giveaways, no blog posts. I finally told one friend six hours after getting that email and that got the ball rolling. Fortunately, I have some very supportive, network-savvy friends who believe in my books and spread the word. I’ve been invited to almost two dozen book club meetings on Long Island, which has been very rewarding.
Aside from Goodreads giveaways and reviews from book reviewers/bloggers here and overseas, word-of-mouth seems to be the crux of the advertising I’m using at the moment.
The marketing portion of this business is, in my opinion, harder than writing the book. Publishing is an ever-changing business and you have to keep up with the various, emerging marketing tools. I try to keep myself apprised of the latest effective methods for when I’m ready to use them.
I know I’m a tiny star in a galaxy of writers trying to be noticed, so my long-term plan is to keep writing, hopefully continue to connect with readers and when I have more to offer, finally invest some time and money into proper advertising.
In your second novel, Letting Go, you have a family in a different sort of crisis, which borders on the paranormal. Did you find your target audience shifting or accepting?
I was nervous when Letting Go came out. It was a bit of a departure from the style of Both Sides of Love. Though the two books are different in a lot of ways, at their core, they’re both about true love, the importance of family and friendships and I think those themes speak to the readers I write for. At least, that’s the response I’ve been getting.
Your books, thus far, have been stand-alone works. Have you considered a book series in order to say everything that you wanted to?
Not yet. I have commitment issues.
I’ve been asked many times if I plan to continue Daniel and Lizzie’s story (Both Sides of Love), but I feel it ended in the right place. I compare them to pancakes. The secret is to stir the batter only until the wet and dry ingredients are just incorporated. If you over-mix, they go from deliciously fluffy to chewy. Now you’ve ruined the meal.
Do you find the idea of writing a book series, even if it is only 2 books, nerve wracking? Why?
I find the idea of writing anything for public consumption nerve wracking, so yes. However, a series might be fun because I’d be able to hang out with the characters longer. I’d love to try it when I’m ready or when a story I’m writing won’t reach a satisfying conclusion in 300 pages.
If you were to switch genres, what would you write about?
Historical fiction. I love it. When I’m brave enough to tackle the research required to do it justice, I may venture there.
Your blog is extremely funny at times. Have you considered adding humor into your writing? And is it more difficult and why?
Thank you. I’d love to add more humor and I did infuse some into Both Sides of Love, as well as my current WIP, but to write a consistently funny novel and still get the right message delivered is very difficult. I commend Kristan Higgins, who I recently discovered and love. She has me giggling throughout her books, yet she still taps into my other emotions too.
I want to write stories that leave readers feeling better than when they started. If I can make someone laugh in the process…well, there’s no better feeling. I’ll keep trying but it has to feel natural to the story, otherwise… crickets.
See? That answer was not funny at all.
Kimberly Wenzler was born and raised on Long Island, New York, where she currently resides with her husband and their two sons. She blogs at www.kimberlywenzler.com using humor to share her personal views on life, writing, and reading.
Wenzler debuted in 2014 with her first novel, Both Sides of Love, which has reached the top-selling list on Amazon. She release her second novel, Letting Go, in 2015.