Today’s guest is Kim Boykin, author of the southern women’s fiction, Palmetto Moon. Kim was raised in her South Carolina home with two girly sisters and great parents. She had a happy, boring childhood, which sucks if you’re a writer because you have to create your own crazy. PLUS after you’re published and you’re being interviewed, it’s very appealing when the author actually lived in Crazy Town or somewhere in the general vicinity. She is the author of The Wisdom of Hair from Berkley, Steal Me, Cowboy and Sweet Home Carolina from Tule, and Palmetto Moon, also from Berkley 8/5/14. While her heart is always in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, she lives in Charlotte and has a heart for hairstylist, librarians, and book junkies like herself.
Thank you for this interview, Kim. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
I’m an empty nester and live in Charlotte where I write full time. Before that, I was a full-time mom. Every stay-at-home parent who’s pulled in a million different directions needs something that’s belongs only to them. That was why I started writing books. I completed my first manuscript when my son was in the third grade but didn’t publish my first novel, The Wisdom of Hair, until he was twenty-three. I sold Palmetto Moon a year later.
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
Palmetto Moon is set in 1947 and is the story of Vada Hadley a Charleston high-society runaway bride who escapes the night before her wedding and runs away to a Round O, SC, barely a dot on the map. There, she falls in love with Frank Darling, owner of the Sit Down Diner, and is happy in her new uncomplicated life. When her best friend, Darby, needs her help, Vada will have to confront her powerful father and the life she gave up and decide where her heart truly belongs.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
I didn’t choose women’s fiction; it kind of chose me. I write stories about strong Southern women with a Southern gothic streak. Publishers and readers like to put your work in a box; that one fits my novels best.
What was your greatest challenge writing this book?
It’s told from four POVs. After reading the manuscript, my editor wanted to move Claire, one of the secondary characters, up 100 pages. Claire came in on page 150, it was a big job, but she was right. Claire’s character became richer, more complex. It was the right call.
Are you published by a traditional house, small press or are you self-published?
I publish contemporary romance for the Tule Publishing Group and publish women’s fiction with Berkley Books, a Penguin imprint.
Was it the right choice for you?
At the time, it was the best choice for me, but, honestly, if it had been one year later, I probably would have self-published. NOW is the best time in the history of authors to write and publish because there are so many options.
Unless you get a huge advance from a traditional publisher, you still end up doing the massive amount of marketing and promotional work; you’re just working for yourself. I do however, adore my editor and my covers from both publishers, and you do have a certain degree of promotional clout when you’re published by a major publisher.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
While it is the best time to publish, NOBODY tells you how hard it is to sell books. I’m big on Facebook, I pay for digital advertising, and have promotional items to had out at events. I’m doing bookstore signings and book festivals, author luncheons. Honestly, if you have a crowd of people who love women’s fiction, I’ll be there. It’s important to get your face in front of as many readers as possible.
How is that going for you?
Marketing is all consuming. Palmetto Moon launches August 5, and the whole month is looming like a tidal wave. I asked NYT bestselling author Wendy Wax if it’s always going to be this crazy and she told me she’s published eleven books. And last summer’s While We Were Watching Downton Abbey was the first book she DIDN’T feel like she had to kill herself to make it successful. Oy.
Can you tell us one thing you have done that actually resulted in one or more sales?
Facebook has some really great targeting tricks when you place an ad that has resulted in sales. My favorite is creating a lookalike audience from my author page. It takes the demographics and preferences of the 2000 or so folks who like my page and find a target group of over 1.5 million with those same stats. It’s brought my click rate down from .50, which is the average, to .19. And I see a bump in my Amazon rankings.
Do you have another job besides writing?
I have two homes and aging parents who live nearby. Oh, and three dogs who live to get me off of my yoga ball office chair to go in and out ever five seconds.
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
Make friends with other authors. Listen to them bitch about how hard it is to sell books and do a little of it yourself. Then, put your heads together and figure out ways to help each other. Even if you don’t see a bump in sales, it’s good karma.
What’s next for you?
I’ll continue to write contemporary romance novellas because they’re fun and I adore Jane Porter and her company, Tule. My next novel is set in 1952 and is called A Peach of A Pair. It’s the story of a young woman who is betrayed by her sister and the two old maid sisters who teacher her the meaning of sisterhood and forgiveness.
Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?
Palmetto Moon is available at Amazon.