Friday, May 20, 2011

QueryTrackers Making Tracks, #9

Today is installment number nine of my Friday series on successful authors from QueryTracker. Some of my guests have agents, others have found success in less conventional ways. But one thing they all have in common is the utilization of the QueryTracker website to help make their tracks in the publishing world.

Today’s guest,
Kaylie Austen (KAusten to us QTers), is not only a prolific writer (it's rumored she can whip out 6-10k words a day--WOW), she also managed to land an editor without an agent. Amazingly, this same publishing house (kNight Romance Publishing--e-books and trade paperbacks) only accepts agented authors now. So, the lady also has really FANTASTIC timing. ;)

Welcome Kaylie!

Kaylie: Thanks for having me! I feel so honored.

AGH: And I'm honored to have you here. Seeing as you're about to be sitting happily on the shelves, you have a lot you can teach those of us still climbing our way up. I'm very excited to pick that prolific brain of yours. For starters, how many books had you written before you found your publisher?

Kaylie: Two poorly written sci-fi books. They had interesting concepts, but bad writing. I've learned a lot about writing since.

AGH: When was your first book accepted, and what is its title/genre?
Kaylie: Ravens was picked up last summer. It's a YA urban fantasy (with a smidge of sci-fi and romance). Ravens are those who are sought out by portals and dragged into a parallel dimension where they acquire superhuman powers. The have white eyes and black sclera, an uncanny look which earns them the name Ravens. Liam and Julie vanished 10 years ago, and Liam's illusions haunt Kendra. When she moves closer to the brink of sanity, he appears through his telepathic ability and coerces her into the portal. She is the last human to portal into a world where Ravens are hunted by humans. Kendra has ill-controlled powers, is trapped in a torrid affair with Liam, and desperately struggles to find a grip on her new reality.

AGH: Sounds like my kind of read! ;) Did you try querying the book first?
Kaylie: I queried Ravens for several months. I had a few bites from agents and publishers, but mainly rejections. As soon as I found a publisher who offered a contract, I accepted.

AGH: It's so wonderful that you found a home! How many books do you now have available to the reading public?
Kaylie: Ravens will be my debut novel, but I am contracted for three other series in the upcoming years in the genres of YA fantasy, sci-fi, and dark fantasy.

AGH: Wow. That's an amazing line up. Congrats! Are there any marketing tips you’d like to share for others who are venturing out into publishing?
Kaylie: Do your homework to see where your novel will find the best exposure. Large publishing houses have entire marketing teams, and trade publishers have small marketing teams. All I have to do is say is that I'd like to go here or there, and the team will try to set up a signing or appearance. They send out ARC's to reviewers, and work out business with bookstores. I've been known to approach local libraries and grocery stores to ask if they'd like to carry my work. If you do this, check with your publisher first. They might have a deal going already and don't want their authors doing the leg work.

My publishing house actually prefers that their authors concentrate on writing and they'll handle marketing, which was new to me. I've also gone after radio stations. Definitely look for free advertising like interviews, social networks, and sites which cater to your genre. Take advantage of connections. I know several business owners who are willing to put my books out in their stores, coffee shops, bakeries, and other businesses.

AGH: What books / authors have most influenced you (either in your writing or in your publishing decisions)?
Kaylie: I like almost anything that is fantasy or sci-fi, so I set out to look at publishers who are big in those genres.

AGH: How did you find QueryTracker, and how did it help you in your effort to get inside the publishing doors?
Kaylie: I don't remember how I came across QT! But I'm glad that I did. I enjoy the community, the positive and informative feedback, and the new connections. It's good for new writers to learn about the experiences of others, no matter how long it took them to find writing success. It's very up building when QT'ers cheer you on and help you to keep going. Likewise, it's beneficial to learn about their struggles. You realize that you are not the only one who has difficulties. Actually, a friend from QT pointed me toward my publisher.

AGH: That's a really great friend. What advice on the business side of publishing would you give to up and coming writers … something you wish you’d known when you first started?
Kaylie: Read and research. Know the craft, know how to edit, find a critique partner to catch what you've missed. This saves your butt from a major spanking when the pro's are editing your manscript. Research the market, know what goes into contracts and rights, and get thick skin! This is a business. We may find friends along the way, but the publishing world wants quality books that make money, and they are not afraid to tell you what they expect from a writer. Being a writer is hard work even after the contract. You have to dedicate a lot of time and energy into your work including edits and marketing.

As you know, it's not as easy as people expect it to be.Take deadlines seriously, and don't do a half-butt job because you're busy, lazy, tired, or just stumped. If you truly want to be a published writer, consider it a career and not a hobby, but always remember that you do it because it's a passion, a skill, and you have a story to tell.

AGH: So true. Writers really have to be in it for the long haul. Do you have any current news to announce? A new book or books you’re working on?
Kaylie: Ravens will release in paperback and eBook on June 11, 2011 at local bookstores.

Currently, I have multiple projects that I'm working on. The release of Ravens will be followed by a YA fantasy series where mermaids and other mythological creatures destroy mankind and take over the world. This is a two-book series. There's been a lot of hype about my zombie mermaid joke prompted by the arrival of the Lady Washington (featured in The Pirates of the Caribbean). I didn't give in to turning my mermaids into zombies, but I started a different YA dark fantasy about mermaids, the secret of Atlantis, and zombies--err--sirens (who just happen to enjoy a succulent human or two). This is my "just for fun novel', but maybe it'll get picked up. Who knows?

Also, I'm working on a different YA dark fantasy which incorporates Egyptian mythology. This was sparked by all those History Channel documentaries (because I'm a nerd), and oddly enough, the TV series Vampire Diaries. Instead of vampire brothers, I use immortal Egyptian "gods" who are after something important that has fallen into the lap of an Egyptologist's daughter.

**Five for fun**

AGH: Which would you rather do: carry an umbrella or sing in the rain?
Kaylie: Carry an umbrella! However, I live in the rainy state and no one carries an umbrella. They just wear hoodies, hats, or get wet. No thank you, I don't like getting rained on, plus I can't sing.

AGH: What’s your favorite breakfast?
Kaylie: New Orleans French Quarter-Cafe Du Monde. A simple cup of cafe au lait, and a side of beignets (French powdered donuts). I'm literally moving there for this!

Are you Team Dog or Team Cat?
Kaylie: Team dog. Cats are cute, but they're so independent and sometimes cranky. Dogs love attention and they are always excited to see you.

AGH: What would I find in your refrigerator right now?
Kaylie: Lots of veggies and fruits, juices, and an assortment of cheeses. Oh, and Mike's Hard Mango Punch! Which I didn't know they made until it mysteriously showed up in my fridge.

AGH: If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?
Kaylie: The same as my characters in Ravens: Agility, superhuman strength, hyper-regenerative healing, heightened senses, telepathy, and the ability to fly.

Kaylie: Thanks so much for having me! This was really fun, and I hope to get to do it again! For anyone who's interested, you can become a member on my website and read about all of my projects as they come out; read my rants on; follow my randomness on Twitter @kaylieausten, or friend me on Facebook I look forward to hearing from you.


And thank you for the interview, Kaylie! That book cover is lovely. I'll bet you're looking forward to holding it in your hands. J And after seeing the kinds of food you keep in your fridge, no wonder you have enough energy to write so many words each day! I need to start eating more veggies. ;)

Congrats on all of your successes so far, and I wish you much luck and happiness on the rest of your writing journey! If anyone would like to show your support or ask Kaylie a question, please leave a comment below. I know she would love to hear from you.

I hope to see everyone next Wednesday on my new
weekly blogging day. Until then, have a wonderful, safe, and relaxing weekend.


  1. Great interview. Very cool concept, and I am very very interested in the one about the Egyptian mythology one :-)

    As a born and raised New Orleans girl, have to say I agree with your breakfast choice!

    Have a great weekend everyone!

  2. Great interview, and congrats to Kaylie! I remember talking to you over on QT - that was a fast turnaround to success - congratulations!

    Great post, Anita. Feel better!

  3. WOW I bet getting a publishing deal w/out an agent doesn't happen all that often if at all. Kaylie must be awesome!

    Congrats Kaylie to achieving the improbable and thanks Anita for the great interview!

  4. Anita, another fun QT interview. Thanks.

    Kaylie, I'm intrigued by your mention of Egyptian mythology. I'll watch for Ravens in June.

  5. Kaylie!! So exciting to see you in the hot seat! Congrats on all your success. Your book sounds so cool!

    Another great chat Miss A!

    Happy weekending everybody.

  6. Thanks for the excellent interview...I love knowing that query tracker helps all those you have been interviewing. I will have to check it out!

    And Kaylie, amazing! The things you are doing are awesome:) Good luck to you!

  7. Another great post! I accepted my award in today's post and I also added a link to you on my awards page. Thank you again.

  8. Wow, sounds like my kind of book to read. I like dark fantasies.

    Congrats Kaylie! Thanks, Anita doll, for the great interview. So fun to meet new authors and hear of their success. So inspiring!

  9. Thanks everyone!
    I thought of incorporating Egyptian mythology because it's seldom seen these days. I like to go against the grain, as you can tell with a story like zombie mermaids!
    Rachel, New Orleans is a fun place for food! My adult dark fantasy is set there.
    Mindy, I was on QT for a different project when we "met". I'm still pushing that one around.
    I hope everyone has a good weekend!

  10. Thanks for the interview!
    This one sounds great: "YA fantasy series where mermaids and other mythological creatures destroy mankind and take over the world."
    It's over, mankind!

  11. Hey there Rachel, Mindy, Sophie, Mary, and Bethany. So good to see my blogger gals today! Thanks for dropping by and giving Kaylie some QT props. :) Hope you all have an excellent weekend.

  12. Hey there Deana! Thanks for stopping by. Your blog interview was awesome, too! Love meeting an agent turned writer for once. It happens the other way around more often than not, so this was refreshing. :)

    Hi Sylvia! Thanks! I'll be by your blog in a bit. Looking forward to it. ;)

    Hello Cherie and Jenny, my favorite vampire and pony girls. Heehee. LOL, Jenny, on your comment about mermaids taking over ... but remember, they only have a few hours left to do it before world's end. They'd better get a move on. ;)

  13. Congrats to Kaylie! Woot!

    I'm about to start using query tracker. As soon as I get a decent query together. So far, I love it.

  14. Great interview. I love reading these Anita.
    Kaylie, I can't wait for these books to come out. Just what I love to read.
    Awesome job ladies!

  15. Hey there M Pax! Yep, QT is a great site, not only for the awesome info moderator Patrick always has updated and available, but for the support of the other writers in forums and comment threads. That place kept me SANE while I was querying. I feel bad that I can't visit as much now, but some QTers hop over here long enough to read about their pals' successes, and I get to chat w/them then.

    Hey there, Mandie! Thanks for stopping by, and for your very kind words. :) It's fun doing these. And yeah, all of her books sound great. I'm really looking forward to the mermaid series!

  16. Ha, thanks Jenny. Sounds interesting to me, too. It's much different than what one would expect to find in the mermaid section of the fantasy shelves. I got a green light that Silver Waters will go into editing June first! PS, if you like the sound of not-so-nice mermaids, check out Pirates of the Caribbean. I just saw it. They have vampiric mermaids, ha!
    Anita, everything will blow over tomorrow when we keep on living in an undestroyed world. It'll leave more for my mermaids to annihalate.
    M Pax, there are wonderfil resources out there on how to nail a query letter. And I agree with Anita, once you get on QT, it'll keep your spirits up and keep you going because rejections will always hurt(even if just a little). But, you'll get hordes of cheerleaders when an agent takes a bite!

  17. Hi Kaylie,
    Congrats on the book coming out soon! It's very exciting. You have a lot of great stories you're working on. You Rock!

    I love Query Tracker, too. It's a great resource to find info on agents and to track those queries we send. :-)

    Best of luck.
    Melissa Stark

  18. Nice to meet you Kaylie :) That book cover is awesome. Yes, I'd like to have a superpower that lets me fly. I think I'd opt for wings though, not just the gravity defying type. There's just something appealing in wings.

    That was a great interview, thanks for sharing your journey. I haven't been around QT much, mostly b/c I can't get the hang of the tracking form. I just need to sit with it, I know.

    Congrats on the book release, and the contract. Your interview here was inspiring.


  19. Welcome, Melissa! Thanks for stopping by and cheering Kaylie on. Good luck in your own journey!

    Hi Donna! I'm with you; I want wings. They're beautiful, for one thing. :) Keep trying QT. It can be such a great encouragement when you're down. Thanks for popping in!

  20. Thanks Melissa! You're rocking it on your end, too. =) I'm sure I will see your name on shelves soon. Or with that special agent...
    Donna, thanks for the cover comment. I like it as well. I didn't have anything in mind for the cover, so my publisher found something that really worked. The fog actually appears when the portals open, and if you're wondering, my MC's hair IS black and pink.
    I'd like to fly, but without wings. They look magestic, empowering, and awe-inspiring, but I'm more practical. How could I wear clothes and just fly without taking my shirt off? Unless, if you've seen Wolverine and the XMen cartoons, Angel gets metallic wings that rip through his shirt. Still, there goes my shirt. lol!

  21. Very cool, Kaylie! And that's so interesting about the marketing angle. I hear so much about needing to be "out there." I'd love to just be able to write... :D

    Also, super-congrats! Your book sounds very interesting~ :o)

  22. LTM, I'm afraid that I wasn't clear. Authors have to be out there and do a lot of promoting. What I meant was being with a publisher who has a marketing team, an author doesn't have to do a lot of the legwork to get booked. You know, phoning every bookstore in town, or convention to get a booth. Those sorts of things. But you will have to get out there. Readers will want to see you, and nothing helps like word of mouth.

  23. Hi Leigh! Thanks for stopping by! :) I'm w/you about just writing. Hee. Gone are the good old days...

    Good point, Kaylie, about word of mouth.