“It’s important to have a great book with the best possible title, book cover and blurb,” says today’s featured debut author, Katheryn Lane, who writes contemporary romances set in exotic locales. Her first book is titled, The Royal Sheikh.
Name of book: The Royal Sheikh
Book genre: Contemporary romance
Date published: May 2011
Publisher: Self-published on Amazon and Smashwords
What is your day job? I’m an English teacher in a secondary school (high school) in the Middle East.
What is your book about? Clare McKay is a dedicated architect with no time for womanising men. That is, until she accidentally meets Sheikh Rafiq Al Kahil, an Arabian prince, known in the international press as the Playboy Prince. Clare is intent on not falling for his seductive charm, but when he asks her to design a mansion, he presents her with an offer that she can’t refuse. Once she finds herself alone with him in the Arabian desert, how long will she be able to hold out against his advances? And will he be able to cast aside his womanising past for her, as well as a secret engagement to an Arabian princess?
Why did you want to write this book? Several years ago, I moved to the Middle East after my husband was offered a contract here. I had already written several partially completed romances set in various locations and being in the Middle East inspired me to write a Sheikh romance. The Sheikh romance has been one of the classic romance genres ever since Rudolph Valentino swept women off their feet in a desert tent, so when I found myself living in the desert, I couldn’t help but be inspired to write one myself. The idea for The Royal Sheikh came to me soon after we arrived. I was out exploring some of the country when I came across a deserted beach on the Arabian Gulf. Although I wasn’t swept off my feet by a royal Sheikh, I did see a Bedouin tent and some camels out in the distance, which set me thinking about who might live there and what they might be like…
What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a book? The biggest challenge of writing for me is trying to fit it in with having a full-time job and bringing up two young boys. However, I have a hugely supportive husband, which helps!
Did you conduct any kind of research in order to write this book (visit certain locales, etc.)? The Royal Sheikh is set in a fictitious country on the Arabian Peninsula, and many of the details come from what I see around me every day in the Middle East. In addition, some of the description of the local culture comes from what I’ve read about the region. A few of the details are based on stories that other people have told me. For example, in the novel the heroine goes on board the Sheikh’s luxury yacht and sees a bunch of flowers made of solid gold and precious stones. This description is based on a vase full of golden flowers that a friend of mine actually saw when she visited a royal palace.
What motivates you to write? I think I write because I have a story inside me that just has to get out. Despite the problems of trying to write, teach and raise a family, I can’t imagine not writing.
Did you experience writer’s block? I didn’t have writer’s block with The Royal Sheikh, which is probably why I managed to finish it, but I’ve had writer’s block with many other books that I’ve worked on. In fact, I have several novels that have lingered on my computer for years because I’ve become stuck while writing them, and I’m not sure where to go with them. It generally seems to occur somewhere around the middle of the book.
How long did it take you to write this book? It took about a year, more or less, if I include the editing and rewrites. However, I didn’t work on it every day. After I had written the first draft, I left it for about two months and then went back to it with “fresh” eyes. It’s a writing tip that I got from Stephen King’s great book On Writing, and it really helps me to see which sections of the book need editing.
Tell me about the self-publishing process. Was it easier or more difficult than you thought it would be? If you self-publish, it’s very easily to upload a book onto Amazon, and Amazon does everything they can to make the process as straight forward as possible, though I think the best guide to formatting is the one published by Smashwords. However, actually selling the book has been a lot harder than I thought it would be. No one will buy a book if they don’t know it exists, so authors have to spend a lot of time making their work visible to readers through promotions and publicity.
What would you say is the biggest misconception about writing a book? It’s hard to say, but maybe the fact that writing one is only one part of the process. Editing, proofreading and then promoting all are essential aspects of being a writer.
What was your favorite aspect of the writing process for this book? I loved being with the characters, especially the hero, Sheikh Rafiq. He’s rich, sexy, clever, well-travelled and has a fantastic art collection. It would be great to meet someone like that in real life!
What tools/methods have you employed to promote your book? What advice would you give to writers regarding promotion? First, I think it’s important to have a great book with the best possible title, book cover and blurb. You also need to have the right categories when you upload your book on Amazon so that readers can find it easily. Finally, I think writers need to try and connect with readers and let them know about work. Blog posts and interviews are an excellent way to reach out to new audiences, so thank you very much, Dina, for letting me be here on your great website!
You’re very welcome! Has life changed at all for you since the publication of your book? Since I published I have spent a lot more time promoting and a lot less time writing. As a result, it has taken me a long time to write my second book, a contemporary romance called Her Latin Lover. However, I have a met a lot of fantastic readers and writers since my book came out, and I have learned a lot about writing and publishing.
Do you find yourself obsessively checking sales stats? Yes! On the positive side, it helps me to monitor how successful various promotion efforts have been. On the negative side, I find myself wasting a lot of time looking at sales numbers!
When will Her Latin Lover be published? As soon as it’s professionally edited and proofread, I plan to publish it on Amazon, hopefully by the beginning of April 2012. Here’s what it’s about: When Mary Delaney is offered an all expenses paid, luxury holiday to South America with her journalist boyfriend, the last thing she expects to happen is to find herself stuck in the middle of nowhere with no boyfriend, no money and no way of getting back to London. When an irresistibly sexy landowner, Don Paulo de Castile, tells her that he has just won her in a game of poker, should she believe him, or try to find out what has happened to her missing boyfriend?
Oooh, sounds great! And now for my favorite last question: Oprah once famously said that there is no such thing as luck, without preparation and a moment of opportunity. Would you agree or disagree with regard to your own success as a writer? I think some of it is luck – for example, it was lucky that I happened to finish writing a book at about the same time that Amazon opened its doors to self-publishing. However, a lot of it is hard work: you have to write a book that people want to read, and you have to promote it so people know it exists.