Friday, September 12, 2014

Top FIVE Things I Learned AFTER My Debut Novel Came Out

YAY! You're what?


After the exuberance at signing my first contract ebbed a bit, I set my sights on what it would be like following the novel’s release. I didn’t worry too much about the logistics of it, but I had imagined that over time, I would become pretty well versed on how things would progress.

I wasn’t.

Partly because there’s a lot to learn and experience, but also partly because, for everyone else involved, it’s not their first time to the publishing watering hole and they don’t know how much (or in my case, how little) you know about the after party. While it’s only been two months since Wanted:  Dead or In Love (Merit Press) came out and even shorter since One Smart Cookie (Omnific Publishing) was released,  I’ve already learned A LOT since then.  Here we go:

5. YOUR PUBLISHER WILL PROMOTE YOU, BUT…you have to promote yourself.  A LOT. Your publishing house has tons of authors on their lists, with more books being released each season, so keep on tagging them in your tweets and status updates and it works to doubly promote them and you. It’s a good thing.

4. YOU HAVE TO FIND YOUR OWN WAYS TO GET THE WORD OUT – no one wants a blowhard that says “Buy my book, buy my book!” all the time, so think hard about alternate connections to your books and make it fun. Run promotions that get readers involved. Make connections with librarians, appear at functions near your home (so it’s not too expensive)….just get out there and be visible and friendly, not pushy.

3.  GIVEAWAYS CAN GET YOU NOTICED…but if you offer a gift card along with your book, many people will enter for the money, but not your book. Something to think about.

2. YOUR FRIENDS ARE EXCITED FOR YOU, BUT MIGHT NOT BUY YOUR BOOK. And that’s okay. Not everyone is a reader. Try not to get too disappointed and don’t hold grudges. (But hopefully they won’t mind if you don’t buy their kids’ Boy Scout popcorn either…) Just kidding!! Okay, maybe not. See how hard it is NOT to be disappointed? J But to my wonderful friends, family, and fellow scribes who have supported me by coming out to my book launch events, purchased my novels, or spread the word, you’re the best!! I can’t thank you enough!

1. SALES TAKE A WHILE TO ACCRUE. While there will (hopefully) be a nice spike when your book first comes out, it takes time for word of mouth to build. Keep buzzing about your book because you might think everyone has heard, but many haven’t. Everyone needs reminders and fresh news about your book and appearances. Slow and steady wins the race. 

So there you have it…and the learning curve doesn’t stop there. What was something that surprised YOU about the publishing business after your debut came out?



Kym Brunner dreams entire novels in her head, but needs about a year to write it all down.  She wishes there was an app for this. She's addicted to chai tea, going to the movies, and reality TV. When she's not reading or writing, Kym teaches 7th grade full time. She lives in the Chicago area with her family and two trusty writing companions, a pair of Shih Tzus named Sophie and Kahlua. She's repped by Eric Myers of The Spieler Agency.

Wanted: Dead or in Love, Merit Press, June, 2014
One Smart Cookie, Omnific Publishing, July, 2014


Sunday, August 24, 2014

CREATE A PLAN TO BUILD A PUBLISHING CAREER - Taking Agent Laura Rennert's Advice

At the SCBWI-LA conference earlier this month, executive agent Laura Rennert from Andrea Brown Literary Agency wowed us with her knowledge about how authors should build successful careers.

She suggested that we view ourselves as being the CEO of our own company, which would make your agent your COO. After reviewing who her authors are, she develops very systematic plans for each of her clients and says we should do the same for ourselves.

Basically, you need to think about who you are as a person, who your readers are, and what your books are about, then build your brand and marketing efforts upon those ideas. So here are my thoughts on each of those topics:

Who am I as a person?
  • teacher/ author
  • outgoing
  • always striving to be humorous
  • am intrigued by things unique and unusual 
  • laid back and easygoing

Who are my readers?
  • teens
  • smart adults who dig YA
  • librarians? reviewers? teachers?

What are my books about?
  • everyday teens on the brink of something new
  • often suspense & plot driven
  • falling in love
  • humor + heart
  • something unusual or quirky such as:
  • Bonnie & Clyde, Polish superstitions, falconry, space camp.

So based on those bullet points...what's my plan?
I'm going to try and formulate one now:

I'll focus on writing blog posts, running contests, and appearing at events hoping to showcase my sense of humor, my knowledge of suspenseful writing, and showing my love for things that are quirky.

Hmm....I think I like it. At least for now.

Laura Rennert did mention restructuring now and then as you go along. Figure out what's working and continue doing those things, while at the same time, weed out the strategies that weren't so successful. What works for one author might not work for another, so don't lose hope. It may take years to develop, but keep working and hopefully you'll see sales rise and offers increase. (*see me grinning with sparks of hope in my eyes)

Now it's your turn to be the CEO of your book company. Write down the three categories listed in bold above, along with your bulleted lists that represent you, and then come up with a one-line plan. I'd love to hear what it is, so please share in the comments....


Sunday, August 10, 2014

Need a FREE Way to Promote Your Humorous Book?

Find a connection to something famous and make it your own! Make sure you either own the rights to the pictures or give photo credit. You just might find readers who appreciate your sense of humor.


Thanks for the idea, Veronica Rundell, a friend and book reviewer,  V's Reads, who graciously shared her pictures from Chicago's Museum Campus! 

Got any other ideas?

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Choose Titles for Your Blog Articles Wisely....Or You May Anger Readers

Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos/Stuart Miles

I was blessed with the opportunity to write an article for Chuck Sambuchino's "Guide to Literary Agents" column for Writer's Digest. Considering how many hits Chuck's blog posts get, I was in debut author heaven. After being given the okay for a guest column with the freedom to choose the topic, I excitedly detailed how I came about writing multiple POVs for Wanted:  Dead or In Love, my YA novel about Bonnie & Clyde taking over the bodies of two modern day teens (which resulted in four POVs interspersed in the story). I figured readers might wonder how and why I chose to write it in alternating POVs, and so I gave (what I hoped was) the interesting background about my thought process.

Before it appeared online however, someone at WD changed the title of my article from "Cracking Down on Multiple POVs:  Surrender and Nobody Gets Hurt," to "You Should Write From Multiple POVs if Your Story Demands It." Perhaps mine was too long or they felt it wasn't catchy enough. Although I thought my title with the criminal undertones was clever and fit my article, I wasn't upset.

No biggie, right?

I didn't think so....until I saw the list of comments on the Writer's Digest Facebook Page that linked to my article (which has since been taken down). People were writing angry comments that my post was nothing but a promo for my book and didn't give advice about whether or not to write from multiple POVs. The thing is...I hadn't intended to do that.

I left one short polite reply on the Writer's Digest Facebook page explaining that my original title had been changed and basically, sorry for the misconception. (I'm not sure if my comment caused them to take down the post or if the fury of the commentators did, but either way, it's probably a blessing for both of us).***Editing to say that on the webpage itself, there were lots and lots of wonderful comments by readers. Definitely the lovely outweighed the grumblers. Thank you, positive readers! :)

Here's the thing:  the title gave readers a different expectation. And I guess, looking at it from their perspective, I can see why they might have had some sour feelings. They wanted a checklist or guidelines of when you should use multiple POVs in your story and when you should stick with a single POV. I'm not sure there's a right/wrong answer to that question, except to say that uh (ahem) you should do it if your story demands it.

That said, I guess I learned that blog post titles have more significance than I knew. With that in mind, I decided to create a few guidelines for choosing blog post titles:

1) CRAFT A CATCHY TITLE - it's important that you make readers curious to see what your article is about. If you're tweeting a link to your article, you only have a split-second to catch a reader's attention. "Write a Title That Fits" wouldn't have been as interesting as the one I chose for this blog post, although it would have reflected the content.

2) DELIVER WHAT YOU PROMISE - the title should reflect the content. No one likes bait and switch. Yes, it should be catchy, but it can't promise something that you don't deliver. Make sure the reader gets what he's coming to your blog for, or they might not come again.

3) REFRAIN FROM GENERIC "GRABBER" TITLES - there are many tweets that say, "Check this out!" or "You won't believe what you'll see by clicking HERE." Yes, we are curious by nature, but when you've seen enough of those, you stop following the link. No one likes surprises THAT much.

Those are all the rules I can think of at the moment (except maybe if you host someone as a guest on your blog, don't change their title without running it past them first.) :)

If Chuck Sambuchino or anyone from Writer's Digest reads this article, I want to reiterate how grateful I am for the opportunity to post an article for your organization. Hopefully the readers that left those angry comments will surrender their feelings and no one will get hurt. :)

Care to share any other guidelines that I missed?

'Til next time...xoxo, KYM

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


If I never publish another book, I will forever treasure the moments that I am experiencing this summer with the release of my debut novels: WANTED: DEAD OR IN LOVE from Merit Press, and in a few weeks, ONE SMART COOKIE from Omnific Press.

Maybe it's because it took me ten years to get here that I now cherish this moment so much, but I've come to realize that the difficult journey might be what is making this reward all the more precious.

I have acknowledgments and dedications in my books to thank all the hundreds of supporters and writers and friends who made my dreams come true, but still felt I needed to share this glorious night with those who couldn't be there in person.

Here are some pictures from one of the best writer days of my life thus far––billed as "A YA AUTHOR EVENT" at Barnes & Noble––when I was actually part of the panel instead of an attendee. Woot!! The other three authors were not only cordial, but funny, sweet, and super smart too!

Barnes & Noble Window Display in Arlington Heights, IL

The four of us who presented: me, Stacey Kade, Elizabeth Fama, and James Klise (they were all awesome!!)

A few members of my amazing SCBWI writers' group:  Terri Murphy, Terry Flamm, me, and Mike Kelly

The adorable Ruby clan - family friends and super supporters!

My good friend and colleague, Pam Lily - who was with me when I got the original "call" from my agent!

FORTY MINUTES INTO THE PRESENTATION - about 60-75 of you in all!

You seriously have no idea how much it meant to me to see all of you!
Thanks for taking time out of your busy lives to come cheer me on. 

Giant thanks also to the B&N managers, Ralph & Amy, who were wonderful to work with!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014


Splash into summer with great books from your favorite YA authors!

The authors at Darkly Delicious YA have banded together for a huge giveaway. With lots of fun prizes, there's something for everyone.

One lucky winner will receive a $40 gift card.

Plus there are lots of other amazing prizes from the authors at Darkly Delicious YA.

Good luck!

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 20, 2014

My new (and totally 100% perfect!) book cover for ONE SMART COOKIE...

When Omnific Press bought One Smart Cookie, I freaked out with delight. This book is so true to who I am (Polish, a little crazy and awkward at times, and naturally clumsy), that it feels like a little slice of my own life on the page. While my parents are happily married and didn't own a bakery, I did have a spirit-conjuring Busia who believed ghosts lived in her house and took her glasses when she couldn't find them.

When the Omnific Press art direction team sent me a page asking about the story and all the characteristics and the feelings one would get when reading my book, I knew they were serious about getting the cover just right.

But it wasn't until I actually saw the cover choices, that I knew they had nailed it.

They listened to me and it shows.

The other choices they sent were super cute too, but when I laid eyes on this one, I swear it was like the movie Ruby Sparks - a character I wrote about actually became flesh. And just like the character Paul Dano plays in the movie, I fell in love with her.

So here she is, Sophie Dumbrowski, on the cover of my YA humorous romance:

�� Arrives July 15th, Omnific Publishing.��

No links yet, but hopefully soon...