First things first: “Kaitlin Queen” is a pen-name. In real life I write for children aged six or so through to teens, and I write journalistic pieces for national and local newspapers, websites and radio (more feature-writing than reporting, although my experience of court-reporting contributed greatly to my first venture into adult crime fiction, One More Unfortunate).
You may be wondering why I felt the need to adopt a pen-name. I did seriously consider publishing One More Unfortunate under my own name, but ultimately opted to keep it distinct.
Increasingly publishing is about brand: the author as brand, the publishing imprint as brand, the series or protagonist as brand. It makes a lot of marketing sense to keep my adult fiction brand separate, confirmed by discussion with my agent and others in the business.
Once that decision was taken I was soon to discover a number of consequences, mostly positive. Taking on a new persona was surprisingly fun, freeing me up to write a very different kind of story: a love story with grown-up complications, a crime puzzle, and a novel deeply embedded in the history of a place I love dearly.
It also made me start thinking about approaching the publishing of the novel in new and different ways. While I hope the novel is a success, it’s not likely to be my main source of income, so I felt free to explore alternatives. The indie publishing phenomenon, where writers such as current indie darling of the press Amanda Hocking are major news due to the way they have found publishing success by going straight to the reader (well, via the good offices of Amazon). By dipping my toe in the water, I might learn valuable lessons, and I didn’t feel I had much to lose.
The technical side of it all was another matter. Friends assure me that electronic publishing is easy, but they are saying this to someone who still writes in longhand, who has just about overcome her fear of email but has yet to brave the world of websites and Facebook and blogs. This is my first ever blog entry; and I wrote it in longhand.
It just so happened that my old school friend Keith Brooke was in the process of launching an ebook imprint, infinity plus. We got talking, and I learnt of his plans to publish a first short story collection by Iain Rowan (a writer I know and admire from the pages of Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine and Postscripts [Editor: IainRowan’s Nowhere To Go was published on 25 March]) and a revised, definitive version of Molly Brown’s marvellous Restoration mystery An Invitation to a Funeral. Now, I have occasionally been known to be slow on the uptake, but really this seemed just too perfect a set of circumstances to ignore.
So here we are: my first novel for adults is an ebook original. It’s gathering some nice responses from readers and sales look good, although it’s very early days. I’m happy to let my publisher experiment with special offers and extracts. I did enter into this in the spirit of discovery, after all! So my novel is on special offer for the rest of this month at a mere 99 cents. Silly prices, but I still earn as much per sale from this as I do from a mass market paperback, and I hope it helps my Kaitlin persona a new audience.
Let’s see how it goes. Success for me would be if One More Unfortunate gathered a large enough audience for me to justify writing the next in the series. These are certainly very interesting times in publishing!
Kaitlin Queen, March 2011
…amazon.com (Kindle format, $3.45 cut to $0.99 until end of March)
…amazon.co.uk (Kindle format, £2.47 cut to £0.86 until end of March)
…Smashwords (various formats, including epub, mobi, Sony and PDF, $3.45)
…Barnes and Noble (Nook format, $3.45)
“There are twists and turns galore before finally the murder is solved… The characterizations are vivid, and in a couple of cases really quite affecting; the taut tale-telling rattles along at good speed; and the solution to the mystery is both startling and satisfying. Recommended.” — 5* Amazon review