Author, Keith Kareem Williams
For most of us when we started writing it was a hobby, a way to delve into our inner most thoughts and express ourselves. Over time the words we wrote and the act of jotting them down became a way of life. Soon writing was our lifeline and stories and poems became an expression of what we wanted to become. Some of us continued to write for fun and dream of one day seeing our name in lights. While others of us watched as our passion turned into our day to day job. They say when you do what you love, you never work a day in your life and super self published author Keith Kareem Williams has definitely proven that to be RIGHT.
From Brooklyn, New York Keith self-published his first novel, "Water Flows Under Doors" in 2004. Since then he has written and published 15 books! He is a father, author and publisher and decided a few years to leave his full time job and make writing his career. I was so excited when he agreed to talk to me and share his story. This writing game is very tough and it takes a lot of grit, but I think it's important to be able to see others who are paving the way for their predecessors and finding results!
Me: Okay Keith, let's get right to it. I'm a huge fan. Let me first say, to be be a full time writer in today's time is super unreal and the fact that you have been able to publish so many novels is AMAZING! Let's just start from the beginning. How long have you been writing?
KKW: Thank you. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I learned to read when I was three years old and since then, I’ve been writing poetry and my own little stories.
Me: As you know, I'm doing a series called It's Time to Get Published. My goal is to get the "how to" information to aspiring authors who want to publish, but don't necessarily know the steps. There's different ways to publish and like me, you chose to self-publish. Can you tell me why that was the direction you chose to enter the market?
KKW: I researched both methods and the freedom of self-publishing is what appealed to me. I wanted to be able to write whatever I wanted and also, I wanted to be able to release books as often as I wanted. It was my opportunity to be self-employed and I jumped at the chance.
Me: So, once you published your first novel in 2004 and got the taste of what self-publishing was all about when did you decide to take on writing as your full time job?
KKW: I became a full-time author right when I was ready to release my second novel, “Open Spaces,” back in 2010. I gave the company I was employed my two weeks notice and never looked back.
Me: There was a six year gap between the first novel and the second. You decided to do the second novel, quit your job and since you've written and published 15 novels?
KKW: So far, I’ve published fifteen books, not counting anthologies that I’ve published with other authors.
Me: When you dedicate yourself to being a writer there's definitely some peaks and valleys. Tell me what has been some of your memorable moments as a writer?
KKW: My most memorable moment was when I got the first 500 copies of my first novel delivered and opened that first box. Although there have been many shipments and many, many books since, I still get that feeling. I’ll never forget it.
Me: It's funny you say that. I just received my order for my most recent novel I published. It was surreal to me, but I still can remember where I was, who I was with and that feeling I got when my first books came to me in 2005. It seems that it's a memory you don't forget. It's almost like having kids. Every single child gives you an equal feeling of euphoria. Switching lanes a bit, as I've said there's peaks and valleys. What has been some setbacks that you have faced?
KKW: You're definitely right, Stephanie as it is with any business, there are peaks and valleys. There have been times when book sales slow down and those are the times when I have to get creative to build the buzz about my work back to where I need it to be. The biggest challenge isn’t even writing the books anymore. Getting new readers is the most difficult aspect of this and requires my attention, every single day.
Me: What would you say are your long term goals regarding your writing career?
KKW: Eventually, I’d like to establish a large enough readership that my work will live on long after I’m gone. I consider every book I write to be a seed that I’ve planted for someone to read in the future.
Me: You have managed to find real success in this game and to be honest you have done something that many authors dream to do and that's leave an imprint on this world. Your books will outlive you and that's something that as writers we can't take for granted. If you were having a cup of coffee with an aspiring writer and they're taking in everything you've managed to accomplish, what advice would you share with them to get started?
KKW: Write very day. Make it part of your daily routine. Creativity is like a muscle. The more you use it is the stronger it becomes. Many authors waste so much time making excuses not to write. When you sit down and decide to let the words flow, inspiration will almost always find you. Also, never let go of your unique identity on the pages. You can have favorite authors that you can learn from but make sure that you are writing in YOUR own voice and not theirs.
Me: In regards to promotion, which is a BIG deal. What's a book without readers, right? How do you promote your brand?
KKW: I use social media of course. I try my best to interact with my readers, but not just about purchasing my work. (No one wants to be constantly bombarded with “but my book” commercials.) I use my blogs to share works in progress to keep them engaged and excited about my future projects as well. I also go out in the real world to promote and sell my books daily. That is really how I’ve been able to write full-time and remain self-employed.
Me: Before we go you have to tell us where can we go to learn more about you and of course check out all these books?
Me: It's been a pleasure for me to hear your story. I'm excited for you and I thank you so much for taking the time out and sharing with my readers your journey as a writer. You are everything that even I aspire to be. Thank you so much and let me know when the next novel comes out, so we can all rush out there and get it.
KKW: Thank you and you are so welcome.
As you see there is so much opportunity with writing and achieving your goals. I think that Keith Kareem Williams is a wonderful example of how you can determine your own destiny. I believe in you and I want you to do as Keith just said and log off this blog right now and START WRITING!
Join me next week as I continue my "It's Time to Get Published" series. Now that we know what options we have to publish, it's time to start getting our novels ready! I'm breaking down the steps to building your book.