Today I was fortunate to corner Karen King, and have her write a post for my blog. I’m thankful for two reasons – I learned something, and I found another book to read this summer – Perfect Summer sounds wonderful!
Karen King – Writing for a Living
People often ask me how they can make a living as a writer. To me, there are only two ways you can succeed: 1) write a bestseller (and that’s a bit like winning the lottery, it could happen but the odds are against you) or 2) be adaptable and write what the market wants. Never having written a bestseller, I’ve always taken the second option.
I’ve been writing for a living for over thirty years now, mainly through luck and being adaptable. I started my writing career in a different way to most people because I first got published in teen/children’s magazines. I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing, devouring up to four books a day in the school holidays – we lived around the corner from the library – and scribbling little poems and stories to send off to various letter pages. I had my first poem published in a local paper when I was eleven which spurred me on to writing more but I was married with children before I had anything else published – an article in Jackie magazine. I wrote more articles and stories for Jackie, and also for Patches and Loving magazines for a while. Then I sent a short story to Marvel comics who rejected it but said they were looking for comic strip writers for their new magazine (Acorn Green) and was I interested. I said yes, although I’d never written a comic strip in my life. I asked them to send me a sample script so I could see their house-style, then studied it closely, noting how they set it out, how many frames there were, how many words in the frames etc, and wrote one up. Luckily they liked it and asked me to write more. Later I was asked to write puzzles and activities too and I took the same approach, studying a sample one very carefully. Before long I was writing for other comic companies and for a variety of magazines – Rainbow, My Little Pony, Winnie the Pooh, Rosie & Jim, Barbie, Sindy. I even wrote horoscopes and problem pages! By now I was a full-time writer.
I started writing children’s books when I was asked to write three story/cassette books based around the characters in one of the comics I was working on. To my dismay, they were published under the wrong name but hey ho, I got paid! I wrote story book, activity books, picture books, even jokes books for many different publishers, Harpercollins, Scholastic, Walker, Random House, Top That. Sometimes this was fixed fee work, but when you’re writing for a living you don’t turn anything down if you can help it, it’s all food on the table. I’ve worked for companies in Singapore, Australia, America and India. I learnt on the job, studying the market carefully, and thinking of the age of my reader as I wrote – as this obviously affects vocabulary and word length.
Now I write mainly YA (Young Adult) and romance novels but I still take the same approach. My writing ‘rules’ are ‘know your market, know your reader’ and never be scared to try your hand at writing something different. Maybe it will work for you too. 😊
Set in a society obsessed with perfection, 15 year old Morgan is best friends with the seemingly perfect Summer. But when Morgan’s brother, Josh, who has Down’s syndrome, is kidnapped, they uncover a sinister plot and find themselves in terrible danger.
Can they find Josh before it’s too late? And is Summer’s life as perfect as it seems?
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What they’re saying about Perfect Summer:
“Wow what a book! I spend the night reading Perfect Summer after being inspired by author Karen’s reason for writing this book. It’s an emotional and chilling story about perfection at the extreme end of the line.” ~E.L. Irwin
“This is a fast paced book that really grips you and makes you think. What is perfection after all?” ~ K. Hart
Karen King is the author of over 120 children’s books and has had two YA’s published, Perfect Summer and Sapphire Blue. Perfect Summer was runner up in the Red Telephone Books YA novel competition in 2011 and has just been republished by Accent Press.
Karen is also the author of two romance novels, and has been contracted for three chick lit novels by Accent Press. The first, I do?… or do I? was published in 2016 and the second, The Cornish Hotel by the Sea, is due out in the Summer. In addition, Karen has written several short stories for women’s magazine and worked for many years on children’s magazines such as Thomas the Tank Engine and Winnie the Pooh as well as the iconic Jackie magazine.
When she isn’t writing, Karen likes travelling, watching the ‘soaps’ and reading. Give her a good book and a box of chocolates and she thinks she’s in Heaven.