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 Episode 16

Carly Kade on Life as an Independently Published Author

by | Feb 21, 2020 | Guest | 0 comments

Carly Kade is an independently published author with a three-book series that tells a WONDERFUL story of a girl, her horse and the romance of cowboys. 

We loved our interview with Carly. She is fun and lighthearted but not afraid to share what’s on her heart. We asked her all of our burning questions, and she delivered way beyond our expectations.

Hosts & Guests

April Hardeman

Laura Langfitt

Carly Kade

 

 

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Carly Kade on Life as an Independently Published Author

Carly Kade is an independently published author with a three-book series that tells a WONDERFUL story of a girl, her horse and the romance of cowboys. 

  • In The Reins
  • Cowboy Away
  • Show Pen Promise

If you have a Kindle or are a member of Kindle Unlimited, you can get the box set for an insanely affordable price. 

We loved our interview with Carly. She is fun and lighthearted but not afraid to share what’s on her heart. We asked her all of our burning questions, and she delivered way beyond our expectations.

What inspired you, what made you jump off the fence and start writing?

Everyone has a book in them. I think there’s like a statistic out there that says 80% of the population wants to write a book, but only 3% do. Fear gets in the way, but you can overcome that. The only thing you have to do is make time to sit down every day and start writing your story.

Once I sat down and started writing, it sort of magically flowed through me. It’s like the Muse showing up and guiding me on my way. Stephen King wrote a great book called On Writing that I would highly recommend, and his quote is:

The scariest moment is always just before you start.

I love that quote because it is so so true. I have always enjoyed creative writing. I was in all the honors English classes but thought of myself more as a poet. I never had the intention to write a book, let alone three books.

I believe the characters show up, and they want their story told through you. You’re not telling their story, they are.

One day I was carrying a journal with me, and McKennon Kelly, our handsome cowboy horse trainer, magically appeared in the form of a poem. I wrote the poem down, and I was like, “Huh, that’s interesting. Where did he come from?”

A couple of days later, I wrote the entire end of the book, which is so strange. I started sitting down and playing with writing a book, and I stopped, and I started, and I shelved it so many times because I was like, “Who am I to write a book? What I don’t know what I’m doing. How am I going to do this?” But, the story just would not leave me alone, so I started messing around and writing down chapters. 

I had so much self-doubt. I sat down one day, and I said to my husband, will you just read these chapters and tell me if they have any merit at all before I spend a lot of time on this? The only book series my husband has ever read is the Hunger Games series on my honeymoon. He’s not a reader.

When he read my chapters, I was sitting there watching. He was laughing, engaging, and enjoying it. As he read it aloud to me, I thought, “I don’t know where this came from. Who was writing this?”

At the end, he put the chapters down in his lap and said, “Carly, this is really good. You have to keep going.” It started from there. I just did it because he liked it. I’m so glad I did.

People are loving the book, and they’re reading it in a day, and it’s gone on to win awards. I just overcame that self doubt, and I’ve put something into the world for other people to read and enjoy and it’s amazing.

Books show up in your life when they’re supposed to, when you’re ready to receive whatever message they have in them. When you’re ready for an escape, they show up so you read them when you’re when you’re supposed to read them.

What has been probably the hardest part about promoting your books online?

There’s so much noise online that sometimes you feel like you’re, putting your content out to the world without knowing if it’s even reaching anyone. Comments are so important. When you’re marketing anything comments tell you know that it’s resonating with people and they’re out there and they’re seeing your posts. 

I have a PR background, a branding background, a marketing background, so I know how to do all this myself, but time spent promoting my business and my books is time spent not writing. I’m not continuing that journey and getting the next book out for my readers. 

There’s a very delicate balance between being creative and promoting your work, it’s an important thing to think about. I write first thing in the morning, that’s when I’m most creative. That’s when I’m fresh, before I get tired. I don’t feel like writing after a long day of looking at a computer. So I do that first thing.

Then I kind of map my day, so I know where I want to go. When I go into social media, and I go to promote my work, I go in there, and I get things done, and then I get out really fast because social media can be a rabbit hole. You can spend a lot of time not generating anything that actually creates something of value.

A social media post doesn’t last that long, but valuable content, like a book or a blog post, lives a lot longer so I try to look at what I’m creating with my time during the day that has value. Instead of a five second, social media post, I can create a video or a whole chapter and in a book.

You are everywhere. You’re on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, you’ve got your email marketing up and running, you’re blogging, and now you’re podcasting. You’re creating tons of value. How do you keep up with it?

I do have a presence in a lot of places, but I don’t pressure myself to be in all those places every day all the time. So I started building my brand before I wrote my first book. I started connecting with people and playing around with what works and what doesn’t. I was very thoughtful about taking on channels.

When I first developed my brand, I started with Facebook, and Twitter. A little ways down the road I developed an Instagram channel and played with that. Then it just sort of naturally happened that I was in all the places. I think of where there’s a community of readers and equestrians who would be interested in the kind of content I was creating.

I never pressured myself to post every single day. You don’t you don’t have to do it that way. I don’t force anything. When I sit down at my desk to start my work every day I kind of look inside and ask “what’s the Muse want me to do today?” I have to do lists like crazy. I always keep track of my to do list, but I always follow the muse.

Sometimes there’s this great idea that I have for my book that I have to get down. Even though I plan to do that first thing in the morning, it might show up a little later in the afternoon so I follow that. Maybe the horses did something silly so I went out and I captured that and then that becomes video content or I’m at a speaking engagement that day.

A blog post might just bubble up in my mind, and I just follow the creativity. That generally helps me create my content. We’re overly involved in our screens so I make a rule to stop my work day at you know, 5:00-6:00 every day and turn off the screens.

After that I don’t do social media, I don’t look at my phone, I don’t do the computer. I don’t do anything so I can recharge for the next day. That’s a real service to my brain and my creativity. To be present with my horses and my family and my dogs is really important. You can have a presence everywhere. But you don’t have to be there all the time.

Knowing your audience is the most important thing you can do when you’re looking at where you want to be online. Where is your audience? Where’s your community? At first, you might want you to set up all these accounts and do all these things, but just know where your community is. 

With all these platforms that we’re talking about which one do you think has had the biggest impact on your book sales?

It’s so funny, it’s where I have my least amount of followers, but the biggest amount of impact and where I have a lot of fun is my YouTube channel. I make meet the characters series for each of my books and I also launch book trailers. The value of that is then I can take those videos that I’ve created for my books and embed them in my website. People like video, I also share them on Facebook, Twitter and my other channels. It’s been a very important part of my strategy.

Video tells a story and I think people like to get to know the characters before the book even comes out. I also do book cover reveals and now my podcast is a big part of my YouTube channel. I’ve seen a lot of growth since I started my podcast. 

Pony Update – Carly’s Horse World

For the first time in my horse owning life, I have been able to bring Sissy home. I’ve always been a border and had to travel to get to her so she is now in my backyard. I’m actually sitting in my office right now and I can look out my window and I see her.

I’ve dreamed of this ever since I was a little cowgirl. It has been the most amazing change. I’ve owned sissy for 14 years, she’s my heart horse. She’s a paint mare. Her registered name is I’m Going to Kiss You. We used to do a lot of showing and showmanship, but she’s since retired.

Now we are exploring the opportunity to trail ride. I literally walk a block across the street and there are hundreds of miles of trails that we can go explore. It is a dream come true.

love the physicality of having your horse at home too. It’s such a great workout and good exercise. My bond with her is growing even deeper now that I’m her sole caretaker. We just got an addition to our herd so Silly now has a sister. 

We bought the property about a year ago, and we did some renovations. I was quietly looking for another horse for my husband so we could go trail riding together. He’s gotten into horses. He’s actually pretty much a natural. He has excellent equitation.

I was always showing him pictures Tanner popped up one day and she’s a buckskin. I showed him her picture and he was like, “Oh, I like her.” I made an appointment to go see the horse on Saturday. But I told him, “you cannot fall in love with Tanner right away because this is the first horse we’re looking at.”

Of course he fell in love with her. He ended up bringing her home a week later. She’s been a perfect fit. She and Silly get along really well. I made two videos one of when Sissy first came home, and another the day we brought Tanner home. If you want to know more about Sissy and Tanner they are stars on my YouTube channel.

Silly inspired the lead character horse Faith in my In The Rein series. My trials and tribulations with her helped me write that book. My horses are a very important part of my life and I’m happiest when I’m in the saddle. I always had this anxiety about how my horse was being cared for and how I could fit her into my schedule. It’s freed up a lot of time having her at home. Plus, it eliminated that enormous expense of boarding. If you can afford the property, it’s so much more cost effective to have your horse at home. 

When you’re writing does the ability to look out and see your horses in the pasture really inspire you?

Absolutely. I can’t even tell you what, what it feels like to look out and see them. Even though I’m writing fiction, things that happened in my life or moments that happened in my life, do wind up in the books like the horses might do something and it inspires a whole chapter.

Sometimes I’m out riding and I have to jump off really quick and I would grab whatever I can to hurry up and write down something that popped into my head. A couple times it’s been the inside of a feed bag.

So what are the best resources that have helped you along the way?

I strongly believe in coaching. I’ve had some good coaches along the way that kept me on track and on target. I was involved in some coaching programs that really helped me with my writing, but also, I did a lot of reading and I listened to a lot of podcasts. 

My first advice, though, before you do anything is write the book. You can’t think about all this other stuff like the marketing or the, publishing until you actually have a book written. My advice when you’re starting out writing is write the book.

I learned so much from other authors, particularly through their podcasts and then of course, I read books about how to write a book. That was a great use of my time because I was always learning. I would listen to podcasts when I was at the gym on the treadmill and while I was commuting to the barn. 

The most important thing before you take on any project is educating yourself. Answers are not going to magically show up. Get a good coach. listen to podcasts, read books, do Google searches, educate yourself about the platforms in what direction you want to go in.

That’s more important than anything because once you’ve written the book, you want to own your intellectual property. That is a big thing that authors sometimes miss out on because they’re hunting down those traditional publishers. They often sign away rights without even realizing it.

I own all of my intellectual property being an independently published author, and I made that choice, specifically because I own my intellectual property, and I make more money.

That’s why I started my equestrian author spotlight podcast because it’s the resource that I wish that I had had when I was starting out on my journey focused very much on horses. I believe in authors uniting I think we’re stronger when we work together, so that it’s a place for people to have conversations about what’s working for them, how they got going, book cover design marketing tips, everything. It’s a place for people to learn, because that’s the sort of thing I was looking for when I was starting out.

What advice would you give business owners about creating content for multiple platforms?

Pick the channels that speak to you that you will want to keep updated. There’s nothing worse for a brand or an author or business owner when they open up a platform and then they just leave it out there and it hasn’t been updated for years or months. It’s really important that you always stay current and make sure those channels stay current.

It may seem really tedious to manage a lot of channels, but create content that you can spread across all your channels. Let’s say I go to a speaking engagement, I’ll record the speaking engagement and then use that video to feed your YouTube channel. Then I’ll embed it into my blog and write a post about the experience. I take that blog post and post it to my social media platforms so it drives people back to my website.

I pull out a quote or a tip from that and make a graphic. I take a picture of myself at the podium and share it on Instagram and in my stories. I take that one, idea or that one topic and use it on all the different channels. It’s important not just to plaster the exact same thing on every channel.

I put out a podcast episode every Wednesday, I add the video to YouTube, I create a blog post for the show notes, I share it on Twitter, and Facebook, Instagram and my stories and pin it on Pinterest and then put it on Tumblr. All that takes me like 20 minutes because I know what I want to say. It doesn’t have to be daunting, and you don’t have to do it every day.

Just make sure you’re doing it so there’s always something there. When I discover a new author and I get to their website and it’s down, or I get to their Twitter feed, and they haven’t updated it in three years I might not continue my search.

Educate yourself or talk to someone like Laura and April or me about how these platforms work. You don’t you don’t have to create a ton of work for yourself, but you do have to educate yourself on what works best for each platform.

Do you think that promoting your books is any different than promoting a product or a service? How do you envision what you do transferring to another equine business owner?

Promoting a book isn’t any different than promoting any other product or service. What’s important is to make it unique to you. This is sort of where branding comes in. Is it on brand? does it speak to people? My biggest recommendation for promoting anything is don’t just constantly be promoting, sell, sell, sell, buy, buy, buy, people are interested in the people behind the product.

Get to know the people that support your business. Get to know the people that want to buy your products or services and let them get to know you a little before trying to ask for that sale. People have to see you like a billion times before they actually are engaged enough to make a purchase.

What I see happening a lot with authors and I’m sure it’s similar for entrepreneurs is they’ll just post the cover of their book and link to Amazon over and over and over and over again. They put it in groups and they put it in on their pages, and there’s nothing else.

Writing a book is the scariest thing in the world because you are putting your creative soul on the line for people to love or hate. Not everyone’s going to like your product or your service or your book because we all are different people and we all have different content that we like to consume. 

When I first got going I was always nervous about a negative review upset when someone unfollowed me, but if somebody unfollows me that means they’re not a right fit for me and I cannot feel bad about that.

When somebody leaves a review I hope it’s constructive. Authors on my Austrian author spotlight podcast say that people just leave these reviews that say something like “hell no” and that’s hurtful to an author because it takes a lot to write a book. If you don’t like it that’s okay but be constructive in your feedback.

I’m very fortunate I’ve never gotten a one or two star review which is fabulous. I’m all three stars and above, which is amazing feedback and very rare. But, some of the reviews that were a little more difficult I learned a lot from. You just have to take that on as a learning experience and you have to get a thick skin.

If you’re going to do anything online, if you’re going to sell a product, if you’re going to offer a service, if you’re going to write a book, you just have to know that you’re not a good fit for everybody and that’s okay. It’s crazy putting your heart and soul into this stuff. It took awhile for me to get comfortable with that. 

Is there a fourth book on the way? 

I’m working on the fourth book in the series right now. I’m calling it JD story. That is probably not what the title will end up being. But I never know what I’m going to name my books until the story tells me what it wants to be called. It was the same with all three books. JD’s story hasn’t told me. 

The coolest thing about JD’s story is I have readers reaching out to me saying, “I love JD I want more of JD” and I was kind of hoping that that would happen. JD is our handsome bull rider with swagger who’s sort of rough around the edges.

McKennon Kelly is the pensive cowboy, horse trainer. He’s sort of the other side of the gamut and I was hoping that it would be difficult for readers to choose between the two cowboys. Of course, all the other characters will be coming along in the book.

Where can our audience find your books?

The books are available pretty much anywhere where you can buy books, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks they’re everywhere, and pretty easy to find. 

I love hearing from readers. That’s why I write these books to provide escape because I know how it feels to get lost in a good book and that’s that’s what I was trying to do I fast reads ones you don’t want to put down cliffhanger chapter endings that make you want to read more and be like, you know how many more pages so I wrote my chapter short too because I don’t like those chapters when you when you’re tired and you want to go to bed and you’re like, how many more pages is this? So I write fast, quick chapters so you can gobble them up.

I wrote the books I wanted to read because I grew up reading horse books for young people, but there isn’t a whole lot of equestrian fiction for adults. I took it on because I could not find that sort of book on the bookshelf, so I wanted to create it.

I’m learning so much from the Rein In Your Herd Podcast as well from your Facebook groups. So thank you for sharing such valuable information. You guys are doing a lot of great work.

 

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