In the novel-writing business it pays to be persistent, but local author Kelly Frederick knows it also pays to know when to take matters into your own hands.
Frederick self-published her first novel, Umbrellas in the Sun, last year after turning a seemingly unrealistic goal into a reality. An avid reader, Frederick began to consider challenging herself to finish a novel and jotted down a first draft in a looseleaf notebook, despite having no formal training as a writer.
While her friends, family, and even her boss gave her feedback for future drafts, Frederick went to work on researching options for publishing, but literary agents who accepted drafts from unpublished authors were hard to come by.
Instead of hitting ‘save’ and moving on, Frederick enlisted the help of her husband, a graphic designer, to finish formatting the novel and design the cover art. They partnered up with Amazon, and a promotion on the site helped Umbrellas in the Sun reach over 800 downloads. The numbers excited Frederick, but admits they were misleading.
“Unless someone knows to go and look for it, they’re not going to come across it,” Frederick said, adding that self-publishing introduces the issue of self-promoting if you want your novel to fly off the shelves.
Early on, Tucson played a strong role as a setting of the novel, with plentiful references to 4th Avenue, the University of Arizona and distinct descriptions of Southwest living. Frederick, originally from the East Coast, has lived in Tucson for over 30 years after marrying in 1980. Writing what she knows, she said, makes the story feel more authentic.
“It just makes me feel I can tell a story because I’m here and I’m familiar,” Frederick said.
Ideas for a second novel began to accumulate before Frederick could even wrap up work on Umbrellas in the Sun, which Frederick likened to “someone trying to cut in on a dance when you’re not ready yet.” The untitled book, a paranormal love story, is again set in Tucson and is centered largely around the university. With one novel under her belt, Frederick is moving full-speed ahead with the creative process that comes with self-publishing, leaving the pursuit of professional approval a “second priority.”
“I’m learning and I’m growing, and it’s really exciting,” Frederick said. “If nothing else, it keeps my mind busy.”
To Frederick, the routine of a dedicated writer is becoming more familiar. Her key for success? Never getting caught unprepared in a moment of inspiration.
“I take (a notebook) with me everywhere, because you never know when something’s gonna pop in your head,” Frederick said. “I have a pen by the bed because I’ll be drifting off to sleep and think of something, a line or something to change.”
Frederick hopes to have her second novel completed in by February or March. She’s excited for the possibilities that releasing a new novel may bring, but hardly attributes her feelings of accomplishment to the number of copies sold.
“You just have to dabble in it and see what happens. If something happens great, if nothing, I’ve written a book!” Frederick said.
You can find Umbrellas in the Sun, a “story of secrets, letters and lies,” on Amazon , or at Antigone Books, 411 N. Fourth Ave.
"Umbrellas in the Sun" by Kelly Frederick, 202 pages, Eleventh Hour Books, print list price $10.