Picky Reader discovers Karen Cantwell

Take the Monkeys and Run (A Barbara Marr Murder Mystery) by Karen Cantwell.  I downloaded this to my rarely used Kindle, because it sounded intriguing and it was only 99¢.   The story is told with a sense of humor and a light hand, but I think we all know by now if the book sucked, I wouldn’t continue reading it.  I’m intrigued from the first page and the story is written well enough to make me continue.  It’s unexpected, I guess, the way the story unfolds and the manner in which it’s told.  Barbara Marr is a bit of a mess.  We’re in her head and her POV the entire time and that might be what I liked best.  She wasn’t logical.  She was a bit warped, but her intentions were good even when they wouldn’t have made sense to anyone else.  We, as the readers, understood her thought process.   Reading this book is like getting in a funny car with someone you’re not quite sure has a license to drive.  Against all odds, you really, really want to take that ride.  You have no idea where the driver is taking you, but it’s a really fun ride.

This is absolutely the first time I’ve been so taken with a book that I contacted the author and basically asked, “How’d you do it?”  A very gracious Karen Cantwell, tells us below:

Me:  Can you give me a little background on the idea for the book, sort of how it came to be?

 Karen:  Yes. I had written a few one-act plays and several short stories, but I could never seem to complete a novel.  I had many unfinished novels sitting in my drawers, but not one with THE END typed on a last page.    So I sat down with one goal: finish a book.  I decided writing a mystery would help me in that endeavor, because I could decide “whodunit” and write to that goal.  The idea of the monkeys was inspired by a true story of something that happened in my neighborhood over 30 years ago when there was only house on the street – a family of monkeys was actually found playing in the trees.  My writer’s mind took off with that, and a book was born.

Me:   As a writer, I’m also interested in the process.  Probably a lot of other writers are as well.  Is this self-pubbed through Kindle?

Karen:  Yes, it’s self-pubbed through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform as well as PubIt (for Nook).  It’s available in paperback as well. 

Me:  How did you come to that decision?  Did you try more traditional routes for publication first?

 Karen:  I had tried the traditional route for over a year with no luck.  I found that I wasn’t progressing toward finishing the second book in the series because I was spending so much time and energy on trying to find an agent or publisher for Take the Monkeys and Run, so when I heard of publishing for Kindle, I thought, “I’ll give it a try.”  I figured it couldn’t hurt.  Plus, I would be able to focus on getting the second book out then

Me:  How have you found the e-publishing experience and frankly, I’d like to know if it’s financially worth it? 

Karen:  For me personally, the publishing on Kindle has been very financially rewarding.  I now pay my mortgage and a new car payment with my month royalties from Amazon.  NOW – I know not all people have this sort of success, but even if I were only making a car payment with my royalties, that was more than I was making before – which was $0.00!   

Plus, remember that traditional route I tried earlier?  Well, recently, an agent from a well-respected literary agency read my book, loved it and emailed me to ask me if I’d be interested in representation.  So I found an agent via a rather un-traditional route.  

Me:  I know it’s rude and we’re not supposed to talk about money or ask what anyone makes and that’s doubly true of authors.  But anything you want to share on the subject would be welcome.  There’s a ton of buzz I pick up on through Novelists, Inc., about Kindle, self e-pubbing, pricing, etc.  Any facts from your personal experience would be helpful. 

Karen:  I’ll say this: I highly recommend authors trying this if they’re not having luck with traditional routes and they’re willing spend a certain amount of time promoting the book(s) themselves. 

A person should do a professional job – make sure the formatting is spotless, the book has a GREAT cover that catches a potential buyer’s attention, a captivating description, a competitive price, and of course, a good book. 

I find the author that follows these rules will sell reasonably well at the very least.  There used to be a certain stigma attached to self-publishing, and that’s starting to fade away with the advent of e-publishing.  More importantly, writers are starting to enjoy having more control over all aspects of the publishing process. 

For anyone looking into this option of self-publishing on Kindle and Nook – a good resource is Joe Konrath’s blog at http://jakonrath.blogspot.com.  He has several resources for authors pursuing this route. 

Thanks for the opportunity, Barb!  And again, I’m so glad you enjoyed the book.  

There are some people doing this making WAY more money than I am right now, and it’s going to become big news very soon.  Now is the time. 

You can learn more about Karen at www.karencantwell.com

I am now even more intrigued by the Kindle publishing idea.  Unlike Karen, I have many manuscripts sitting around with “the end” written on them and nowhere to go with them.  I’ve poo-pooed self-publishing for a long time, but times are changing and my motto of recent years is “something is better than nothing.”  So don’t be surprised if I unearth one of my long-completed manuscripts and send it out into the world via this route.

A huge thank-you to Karen for sharing her experience and insights. 

Come visit me at www.barbmeyers.com

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