Press Page for Kim Hemphill
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I was in my mid-forties and several people encouraged me to put my stories and thoughts down on paper and write a book. I enjoy telling stories about some of my experiences as a kid. As you get older, I believe the memories become more important and perhaps more enjoyable. Everyone has said when sitting with friends and family “remember the time?”
How long did it take you to write the book?
It took me six months to write. Then the more difficult work began. After the first copy, I had a professional critique done on my book. I then re-wrote about 30% of the book and submitted it to my editor. Then I went back and re-wrote about 10% of this copy. So, there were three separate times I wrote my book. Then I was happy with the content and how the book read. I came to realize that writing was very much like my hobby of woodworking. You cut and assemble lumber and then look back and see how the joints and seams fit and look. With the book, you put together paragraphs and chapters. Then you look back and see how they fit and read. With the wooden project, you then sand and touch up any imperfections; then it is waxed or lacquered and worked until it shines. This is just like the book. I worked my book, with the help and guidance of some great professionals, until it shined with little to no imperfections.
What is your work schedule like when you are writing?
I can get very involved with a book and am very anxious to see if my premonitions were correct; that a lot of people from different walks of life would enjoy it. Many days are 12 hours of nonstop work. Then there were times that I stopped work to take a day off, step back, and take a fresh look.
How do books get published?
Prior to the Internet, it was extremely difficult to get published. Now with self –published books and the phenomenon of e-books, it has leveled the playing field. This, however, does not eliminate the first step and that is to write great content and a stellar, well-written book that stands out from the others in your genre. Then and only then, when your book reads well, you go forward with the most difficult portion of the journey. The difficult part is working, reworking, and spit-shining your manuscript into the best possible book. Then comes all of the marketing. You have a great book, but if no one knows about it, how can they buy it? It can get lost in the vast sea self-published books. Marketing a book is a challenging experience, but, if you are relentless and don’t stop, you will be successful.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
Being a non-fiction writer, I find it very easy to come up with ideas. I simply stay aware of society’s needs or concerns. Then I try to apply what I am interested in to this topic of concern. Keeping the task at hand focused on something that is of great interest to me assures me the experience will be enjoyable. The most recent concerns I see that I have a keen interest in our veterans and police officers. Most likely my next books are to bring to light how important both of these groups are to our society. I will be an advocate for each of these special men and women who serve our country.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I was 60-years-old when I wrote my first book, but it was five years later at 65 when I got serious about it.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I enjoy woodworking, watching Sunday NFL football with my son and wife, and fishing is very soothing and something I love to do.
What does your family think of your writing?
I think for the most part they are surprised that I have become so involved in this new career at my age. Several of my family members have expressed positive reviews, but I don’t gauge my ability or talent from family’s expressions because they are biased. The greatest compliment for me comes from the person whom I’ve never met.
What was one of the most surprising things learned in creating your books?
I was surprised in my ability and willingness, after much practice, to learn the art of expression within my writing. Learning not to “tell” the story, but rather “show” the story. My first drafts were mostly without a lot of description or dialogue.
How many books have you written?
I’ve written two books. I Remember the Time… is my favorite. I am very proud as to what it took to create it and now that it is done, I know it was worth all of the effort, time, and expense that I have invested into it.
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
- Practice. Writers write. Even if you are not working on a book, story, or poem, just write anyway. Write every day. Do a writing exercise (they are abundant on the interwebz) or enter a flash writing contest. Anything. Just write!
- Collaborate: either with professional writers or amateur writers. If you reach out to a professional with a proven track record, listen to them. You don’t have to take their advice, but you can at least learn from them.
- Read: Writers are also readers. Read books, stories, or poems in your genre. If you are submitting to a certain journal, make sure you pick up a few back copies first to ensure your content melds well with theirs. Most journals ask that you do that anyway. Nothing is more annoying (says my editor) than people who submit work to books, journals, or what-have-you that are not up to par or even in the same ballpark with what the journal publishes.
- Reach out: build a team of people that really show they care about you and your writing and your goal to improve. This can mean editors, book designers, book formatters, or first readers.
Do you hear from your readers much?
Yes, indeed I do hear from my readers. This is one of the most enjoyable aspects of being an author. This is where an author can really get to know his or her readers, especially with all of the social connections to our society. Facebook, Twitter, and all of the others are fantastic venues and a real asset for new authors to build a fanbase. Building your fanbase of readers starts with these social media groups, and it is a great way to start.
What do you think makes a good story?
In my genre, I like to see the average person make it big. I love to see the little guy win and end up on top. It inspires me to see someone who has all odds against him or her be a winner and succeed beyond their expectations. I love to hear and read about the people who give back and mentor people who have been on the wrong end of good luck.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
To be quite honest, I came from a very poor family and had no dreams or aspirations as a child. I did not get to experience any type of real dreams or hopes until I turned 20. At that time, I broke out of the descending hole I was in and when I did… I soared to the top of success. I have been very blessed to have life turn out the way it did for me.
What does your writing process look like?
I find a very quiet place where I am comfortable and know there will be no interruptions. I hook up my Dragon Naturally Speaking© software and dictate the start of the book, laying out a rough version. After I have talked through what comes to mind, chapter after chapter, the rough story is done. I put it into Microsoft Word and print it out on paper. I will then take a couple of days away from it to relax and think about the story. I take the printed manuscript and read it. I add thoughts and comments to express why these events in the book are taking place. So first I tell the story, and then I go back and polish it, and try to show the story.
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
It has nothing to do with writing or becoming an author. It has to do with my family. My greatest accomplishment was raising my son and seeing how he turned into the best son a father could ever want. My second best accomplishment is my successful marriage to a wonderful woman. Having my wife beside me for all the decades we have been together is very gratifying. This marriage of 30+ years has worked, and she is the best wife I could have ever had. I was very lucky to find her when I did, and lucky that she liked me too. She still does. Imagine that!
What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?
- Plan: Plan how you will attack, so to speak, your story.
- Don’t quit: Sometimes you are let down or things are not going the way you pictured. If you quit, you aren’t going to go back to it. You won’t success at anything by quitting-except for things you have to quit. Like smoking.
- Nurture your psyche: Take your small wins and accomplishments and nurture yourself with these victories. Keep going forward.
- Learn patience and impatience: sometimes, you have to be patient. When will I learn if I was accepted? It takes time for things like that. But if you are working with a team, you may need to be impatient from time to time to ensure things get accomplished in a timely fashion.
What is your best marketing tip?
Be relentless, not shy, and reach out to people. Get a website for a landing page for your book(s), and allow it to be your platform for building your brand and business. Be social and engage on social media. Tell your story, your goal aspirations, to newspapers and other media. The more people you talk to about your book, the greater the chance of it selling.
What is your least favorite part of the publishing/writing process?
Waiting for the next critique, edit, or book cover to get back into my hands.
What are you working on now? What is your next project?
My brand or platform is to reach out and give back in honor of all who have helped me succeed. I had virtually no chance at becoming a banker, developer, inventor, and entrepreneur, but with the help of my “angels on Earth,” I was able to succeed at all of these things. I am contributing 20% of the profits of I Remember the Time… towards the fight against child abuse. I am also using part of the profits to research and write a book about the women and men who have served our country as police officers, EMTs, and Firemen and women. I will be a strong advocate for both of these groups who are so selfless in protecting our US Citizens.
Tell us a little about yourself. Perhaps something not many people know.
I am donating 20% of I Remember the Time… to fight child abuse or children’s support groups, plus fund my next book(s) in what will become a series of remembrance. From these books, I will also donate 20% of the profits to groups that help the individuals and groups I’m writing about.
What made you want to become a writer?
My strongest desire and motivator to become a writer was to build a platform and generate discussion for some major issues within today’s society. A few that are of interest to me are child abuse, our women and men who serve our country, those who give back, take care of the elderly, Meals on Wheels, taking care of our children, and groups who care for wounded veterans. There are many more, but you get the idea in that I want to bring light to the problems, to find answers, and to help solve the problems in any way that I can.
Million-dollar question: Are you working on another book?
Yes, I am, along with my team. We are starting our second book. Our veterans are very close to my heart. My brother was killed in Vietnam in 1969 at the young age of 19. He had his whole life ahead of him and sacrificed it to save other’s lives. I am very interested in hearing other stories of American heroes. I am also gathering content for three more books. Including the one about vets, I am gathering info for books about police officers and people I call, “giver backers” that have stepped up to the plate and helped others in need.
Have you written any other books that are not published?
Yes. My first book, “Hook, Line, and Sinker” is a guide to avoiding pitfalls and mistakes in today’s business.
What do you think about the e-book revolution?
It is the greatest change and improvement for books in the history since the invention of the printing press. It has leveled, to some degree, the playing field for novice writers to get established. The publishing companies, as we once experienced, have lost their grip on the industry.
Goals of certain # of words a week or when inspiration strikes?
With each book, prior to starting, I layout a game plan on who, what, and when something is needed to be completed. To work with the best professionals in the business, a writer has to treat his/her book as a business. You have to be prepared and present yourself and your book as what it really is…. a company.
What tactics do you have when writing? (For example: outline or just write)
I will do both. At times, my writing just flows with little effort. Other times, it is very effective to start with an outline to build the particular chapter or topic I am working on. Getting the foundation to the story can be very helpful.
What has your experience been like as a new Indie Author?
To compete with a reported 4,500 new books per day being published, I have come to realize one must pay attention to every detail. Developing the book is more than just the content. The cover, formatting, editing, proofreading just to name a few, have to be effectively completed to stand out of above and beyond the majority of those 4,500 new books that day. Then, when that is completed, the author has to apply his/her business skills for the promotion and marketing skills that is as important as writing a great book that breaks out and runs to the bestseller list.
What have you put most of your effort into regarding writing?
I am learning not to tell a story but rather express why a situation or a story occurred. I’ve put a lot of effort into creating images with words in the reader’s mind rather than telling a story like a narrative.
Does your book have a lesson? Moral?
My books are for championing causes important to our society. Spousal abuse, child abuse, police support, veteran’s support, and animal abuse to just name a few.
What is your favorite part of the book?
My most enjoyable part of the book, I Remember the Time… is the redemption I enjoyed and beating the mental and physical abuse as a child. Having such a strong inferiority complex as a youth to then discover that I can be a winner was very compelling and positive to me. This brought on the healing process and propelled me forward to take on new challenges.
What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
After writing my first book, a friend of mine asked me if he could read it. His critique was brutal and very damaging, as I was quite hurt from his harsh words. I threw the manuscript under the bed and did not think about authoring another book for a couple of years. This had a huge negative impact on me, and I was wounded and hurt for a long time.
What has been the best compliment?
Having my readers and fans compliment my writing, and how much a certain story or part of the story had moved them emotionally either to sadness or happiness.
What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?
One of my readers who read the first four free chapters wrote:
“I’ve been thinking of you and this book and curious as to its progress. I love that you are using this as a platform to discuss child abuse and the terrible harm it inflicts. You are an amazing person.”
What gives you inspiration for your book(s)?
My biggest inspiration for a book is how, when it’s complete and published, can it bring good and improvement to problems and issues our society that we are currently experiencing.
Could you tell us a bit about your most recent book and why it is a must-read?
My brand and topic of writing is about the human race. Some of my writing stimulates anger, tears, and sadness, but I, however, attempt to turn and show that bullying, sadness, fear, hate, intimidation, and abuse is powerful but not nearly as strong as the act of joy, giving back, thoughtfulness, random acts of kindness, charity, forgiveness, love, and so on. The latter will defeat all that is in its way.
What do you love most about the writing process?
I enjoy how an idea starts out in a rough form, then, through working it and putting effort into it, takes shape, and a book is born. It is very much like when I am in my wood shop. You take boards and cut, fit, assemble, sand, and wax them into a beautiful creation that you are proud to say you built. The book is built the same way.
Tell us a little about your plans for the future. Where do you see yourself as a writer in five years?
My plan is to continue building our brand and platform by writing books on society’s greatest needs and areas needing improvement and change. I want to promote that change and help starts with one person at a time.
Where can we find you online?
Any website or resources that have been helpful to you as a writer?
Many new authors turn to the Internet for help to find the resources to get their first book completed. My experience was that it was very overwhelming and confusing. The more I read and researched, the more I saw conflicting information, and it planted doubt and concern in my head. I stepped back for a moment and thought about it. As with everything in life, there is the good, bad, and ugly.
I decided I would look for an experienced, older person who was proven and had a track record for the industry. So I set out to find a person who was already financially comfortable and was now in the stage of his or her career where their first priority was not to do a “cash-ectomy” on me, but actually guide me on this journey.
The first professional that I reached out to was Joel Friedlander at The Book Designer. I researched Joel and my initial “gut feeling” was he looked like a trustworthy person. As time went on, I was right. He was a walking encyclopedia on how to author a book. His teammate, Shelly, was also extremely helpful and willing to help me. So now I had a trusted source to go to for solid advice and information. Joel and Shelly were so kind. They provided me with a list of editors, designers, and other pro’s that were also the high quality and standard as they.
I found Cathi Stevenson, a very talented women in design, to design my book cover. I connected with my editor C.S. Lakin who proved to be a pro’s pro. Susanne was helpful and guided me on my way. The point I am making is that I needed a “street team” who was more experienced than myself, but who had the patience to deal with a new author. I owe these people much more than the compensation they received from me. Every one of these truly professional people gave more than what was expected from them, and I am truly grateful to all. Thank you Joel, Shelly, Susanne and Cathi. You all are the best.
At this point of the project, I was feeling about 90% confident in my accomplishments so far with my first book. I still needed a multi-talented type of person that I could reach out to on a daily basis if needed. It was my intention all along to find a younger person who was more tech-savvy but yet had good writing skills. I tried two women, and they did not work out. I found the book or myself too far down on their priority list. I needed someone who shared the dream that I saw and was as enthusiastic as I was about this project. I continued to look, and being the lucky persistent person that I am, I found Dawn Olmo. I finally found the right person who I could work with on finishing the book to the expectations and quality which I had envisioned. Dawn resides right here in Spokane, my hometown. From the very beginning, we were a good fit. Dawn was strong in areas were I was weak, and I had skills that she had not yet experienced. Now my street team is complete.
Do consider yourself to be a successful writer? If so, why? If not, what would make you successful?
Success is measured in different degrees or levels. Currently, where I am in becoming an accomplished author, I am satisfied with my progress. I have a well-written book, and I am proud of its quality. I am getting very good response from my readers that it is compelling, and they did not want to put it down. Let’s not forget that to become a successful author you have to sell books. So the marketing of your book does not typically happen on its own for a new author. You have to get the word out. This is one of my stronger talents, having been self-employed and promoting my companies for 40+ years. So, yes, I consider myself a successful writer but am still on the journey to achieve the next level. Hitting the bestseller lists is on my bucket list!