Kimberly Kincaid’s Advice on Contests, Self Publishing, and More

Kimberly Kincaid write contemporary romance novels that are particularly appealing to foodies. In addition to publishing books through traditional publishers, Kimberly does a fair amount of self publishing, which has enabled her to build up an impressive cadre of devoted readers.

Below, Kimberly shares advice on literary contests, self publishing, finding good editors and cover artists, combining independent publishing with publisher contracts, finding an agent, and engaging with readers over social media.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors with regard to submitting their manuscripts to various contests?

Kimberly KincaidWhen is it worth it to make that effort? I'm a big proponent of contests, having sold my Pine Mountain series to Kensington off of one (the Washington Romance Writer's Marlene)! While I also know people who sold having never entered a single contest, I think there's value in entering overall. It gives you exposure to feedback, experience hearing constructive criticism, and helps aspiring authors learn how to determine what to use to strengthen a manuscript versus what to respectfully overrule as subjective opinion. Also, some contests, like the RWA Golden Heart, are huge resume boosters than will catch the attention of agents and editors.

What advice would you give to independent authors with regard to finding a good editor and cover designer/artist?

If you've decided to self-publish, both of these things are KEY. Go with a freelance editor with experience in your subgenre and who comes recommended. Ask around in forums- authors are usually happy to pay it forward and recommend someone they love!

Same goes for cover artists. Browse Amazon or other book sites and choose the covers that strike you, then email the author to ask who did it. A good cover can make or break a self-published author. Don't scrimp on time or quality!

Do you think it is becoming more common for people to have a hybrid approach to authorship in which one publishes independently while also signing the occasional contract with a publisher? What are the benefits of doing this approach?

I do think hybrid authors are becoming more common because of the changing landscape of publishing. Editors are willing to work with authors who choose both, and agencies are coming up with new ways to assist their authors. The benefits are limitless, really. These situations are win-win for everyone. My self-published titles give me more visibility, which my traditional publisher loves, and my traditional titles give me more exposure to mainstream markets, which I love.

It seems that most good relationships authors have with agents and agencies result from the agents seeking them (rather than the authors seeking agents). How might one make oneself attractive to agents?

I queried my agent the "old fashioned way" in late 2010, and signed with her in 2011. I think there are so many ways relationships unfold. The most sound advice I can give seems simple, but the most effective thing to do is to write the best book you can. While things like a web presence are nice (and yes, I do think to an extent agents looks for that), my impression is that the thing that outweighs all else by far is a good, strong, marketable manuscript.

With regard to making a living as an author, what has seemed to yield more income for you- writing books, or publishing novellas?

They both have great potential, but they're very different creatures and both depend on variables outside an author's control. I'm not trying to dodge the question! It's just really hard to say.

In what way has your involvement in social media impacted your writing?

I am a *huge* proponent of marketing through social media (if you have visited my Facebook page, you know this!). My reach has grown by leaps and bounds through Facebook and Twitter. I'm able to let readers in on things like new releases and special deals, but more importantly, I'm able to interact with them. Five years ago, when I sat down to write that first book, I did it because one of my favorite authors had personally answered one of my fan emails. I always vowed I would talk to my readers if I sold, and I take sticking to that vow very seriously!