Author Kay Jennings shares her journey to publishing her first novel, tips for writers, and why having a compelling website is so important for an author.

Solopreneur Spotlight: Author Kay Jennings

Have you ever dreamed of penning your own novel? Or even of making writing your full-time career?

In our latest Solopreneur Spotlight, we spoke to a Brand Genie client who’s done just that!

We recently had the pleasure of working with author Kay Jennings to create a moody and mysterious website, perfectly suited to promote her new mystery novel.

Kay was kind enough to chat with us about her journey to publishing her first novel, her tips for aspiring writers, and why having a compelling website is so important for an author.

BG: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

KJ: I’m a 5th-generation native Oregonian, and grew up on the southern coast in a town not unlike the fictional Port Stirling where my mystery novel is set. I’ve lived in Portland for about 25 years, after many years in Eugene. After a long career in corporate communications in such varied industries as tourism, health care, and sports, I started Paris Communications, a marketing, PR, and publishing company which I’ve owned since 2000. I’m especially proud of my football sports writing and editing for BleacherReport, a sports website.

BG: What does a typical day in your life look like?

KJ: Ahh, a typical day. Wish I would have one! Here’s what a typical day is supposed to look like for me: Workout first thing, write on my mystery novel series until early afternoon, work in my garden in the afternoon, and cook a healthy meal for dinner with my husband. With travel, golf, and reading sprinkled in generously. However, in the current environment, marketing and promoting my novel is my entire day, with a quick garden weeding, and maybe a workout squeezed in. But I’m close to realizing my ideal typical day.

BG: Is writing your full-time career?

KJ: Yes, writing is now my full-time career. My first novel is off to a good start, and I have book No. 2 in the series outlined and plotted out. Plans are also in the works to produce a regular newsletter titled “Talk Soon”, that will provide insight into the writing process, with perhaps an occasional gardening or travel feature thrown in.

BG: What was the most surprising thing you learned on the journey to publishing your first novel?

KJ: After a lifetime of writing, starting as far back as high school when I was editor of my school newspaper, I was surprised to learn that I essentially knew nothing about writing a novel, especially a mystery, where the readers have certain expectations. And you must meet those expectations if you hope to be successful in the genre. I was also surprised to learn how much the publishing landscape has changed in just the past few years, and how much less cumbersome it is now. That was a pleasant surprise; the first one, not so much.

BG: What made you choose Brand Genie for your author website?

KJ: Two good friends recommended Brand Genie to me, we talked, and I felt it was the right fit.

BG: Why do you think a website is important as an author?

KJ: In laying the groundwork for long-term success, a professional, strong author website is critical. It was one of the first things I did, even before my novel was finished. It will help me gain brand recognition over time, and indicates the seriousness of my intent as an author going forward. Now that my novel is published, I will use my website as a platform to launch the newsletter and build my email list, direct readers to buy my book, and begin promotion of book No. 2 in the series.

In laying the groundwork for long-term success, a professional, strong author website is critical. It was one of the first things I did, even before my novel was finished.

BG: What kinds of comments have you heard about your new website?

KJ: People seem to like it and feel that it reflects the mysterious, moody tone of my novel, which was my goal. Also, I think it will easily adapt to my new works as I go along.

BG: How would you describe your experience with Brand Genie?

KJ: Primarily, I appreciate that Brand Genie is no-nonsense and straightforward like me. They get in, get the job done, and get out without a lot of fussing. I hate fussing. When I need help, they are there to help me, and, so far, I get what I need when I need it. It’s a terrific service at a fair price.

BG: What advice would you offer other aspiring authors?

KJ: Sit down and start writing. If you want to write fiction, you take one of two approaches: either start writing and see where it goes (a Pantser), or do an outline first with a beginning, middle, and end (Plotter). Either technique is acceptable, and depends on your personality. I started out a Pantser, and now I’m a rabid Plotter. Designate a quiet, private room WITH A DOOR, go in, close the door, and start writing. For me, setting a daily word goal is important…mine is 2,000 words a day. Yours may be 200 words a day, whatever, just set a goal.

Also, there are so many writer resources out there now, it’s almost overwhelming, and you should take advantage of them. One of the smartest things I did when I decided to write a novel was to read books by famous novelists who offered their advice. Steven King and Elizabeth George have two of the best books on writing. If your intention is to be published by a traditional publisher, you should also read books by some leading literary agents on what it takes before you start writing…Donald Maass’ books are particularly enlightening and very useful. And, the most important tip is that when you have a finished manuscript that you believe is perfect, hire a developmental editor. She will tell you that it is not close to perfect, but, hopefully, also instruct you on how to make it so.

BG: Thank you so much, Kay, for sharing your thoughts with us! Visit Kay’s website to learn more about her book, Shallow Waters, or purchase it on Amazon.

If you’re ready to create your own website — whether for your business, passion project, or personal brand — book your free brand consultation with us. We’d love to work with you!

Would you like to be featured in a future Solopreneur Spotlight? Send us an email and let’s chat.