(I worked with Naleighna Kai, best selling author, on her first novels, oh-so-many years ago! She has now fashioned a beautiful writing career, to much success. Read on to see how she did it! –Susan)
My career started with a life-altering experience in a chat room online; the one where people from all over the world came together to play Hearts and Spades. This guy, who was actually a writer, took things to a private chat and would send me poetry, then it shifted to erotic poetry, then further to sending a two-paragraph story of all the wonderfully wicked things he wanted to do to me. I sent back ten whole pages of techniques he needed to brush up on and things he should learn. Those pages penned to him over the internet became chapter 16-23 of my first book.
The thing is, I had never aspired to be an author.
The only writings that I did before that time was for school assignments, never for pleasure. A sexual abuse counselor encouraged me to continue writing as part of my healing work. I wrote six novels over a two-year period. During that time, I hired a second editor on the suggestions of an author who had landed on the New York Times Bestseller’s list. Susan Mary Malone helped my writing to reach that page-turner quality and gave me the best advice I could have—rewrite the stories in third person to give me some distance between my personal experience and what I actually share with the readers. She told me to make sure that my characters don’t look like me, so I could have some objectivity. Thirty novels later, that advice still stands.
Thanks to Every Woman Needs a Wife, I had landed a book deal with Simon & Schuster. I learned a great deal about the process. The book was everywhere at once, but the control belonged to the imprint when it came to content, cover, release dates. They took a nice hefty chunk of money for the privilege. Achieving the same level of success on an independent level had been hard to come by. I would write, publish, then market and promote the best I knew how, but I didn’t reach even a quarter of the numbers I had with a major house. What I had failed to do was build a brand like so many other authors had done. I didn’t understand what that concept was about.
Last year, something happened that changed the trajectory of my writing.
With so many negative accounts of experiences that women were having; some being harmed and even killed by significant or insignificant others; my belief in love went so far south, that it was hanging near the equator. I wanted to believe there were men who were filled with integrity, compassion, and purpose. They would love the women in their lives but didn’t need for the women to be “less” so they could feel more. It would be a brotherhood.
The concept Kings of the Castle series was born. I used the formula giving to me by three authors who had hit the USA TODAY Bestseller’s List and they helped me to reach that status as well. The process was amazing. Nine authors with different writing styles and at different stages were brought together to create a brotherhood that readers would not forget. During the process, though, it took a toll on me and for the first time in nearly twenty years, I wanted to put the pen down for six months to a year.
.Thankfully, that didn’t happen. When that last one released and I could breathe a sigh of relief, all of a sudden, the idea for King of Durabia came through and would not stop coming until five days later when that last word was on the page.
The muse for that was so strong that, for the first time in my writing career, four other threads were woven perfectly throughout. I didn’t know who those threads were for until days later—my son, my niece, my nephew, and then another family member who didn’t follow through. The torch for that story was passed to a brand-new member of my tribe instead—Stephanie M. Freeman.
.The process with this series began to feed my entire soul.
I had learned a great deal from putting together the first series and didn’t want to make the same mistakes.
Deadlines and process was tighter, the concepts were edgier so that the stories didn’t mirror the previous series. Even though a shake-up occurred with Book 2, we weathered that storm. During this time, the sales figures for Kings of the Castle came in and they floored everyone involved. We now had a way to expand our brand, the reach of the individual authors, and engage readers on a different level. Now we’re set for other series to release over the next three years.
The one piece of advice I would give authors is that connecting with readers on different platforms is key. I’m not just talking social media, I mean the many ways to be involved—series with other authors, anthologies, box sets, group promotion, literary events that not only put your work in front of readers, but also connects authors with industry professionals.
Nalieghna Kai’s latest book:
No good deed goes unpunished, or that’s how Ellena Kiley feels after she rescues a child and the former Crown Prince of Durabia offers to marry her.
Kamran learns of a nefarious plot to undermine his position with the Sheikh and jeopardize his ascent to the throne. He’s unsure how Ellena, the fiery American seductress, fits into the plan but she’s a secret weapon he’s unwilling to relinquish.
Ellena is considered a sister by the Kings of the Castle and her connection to Kamran challenges her ideals, her freedoms, and her heart. Plus, loving him makes her a potential target for his enemies. When Ellena is kidnapped, Kamran is forced to bring in the Kings.
In the race against time to rescue his woman and defeat his enemies, the kingdom of Durabia will never be the same.
Kings of the Castle Series
Knights of the Castle Series
About the King of Durabia
Naleighna Kai is the USA TODAY, Essence®, and national bestselling and award-winning author of several controversial women’s fiction, contemporary fiction, Christian fiction, Romance, Suspense, and Science Fiction novels that plumb the depth of unique love triangles and women’s issues. Also, she is a contributor to a New York Times bestseller, one of AALBC’s 100 Top Authors. Nalieghna is a member of the Chicago Vocational School Hall of Fame (CVS), Mercedes Benz Mentor Award Nominee, and the E. Lynn Harris Author of Distinction.
In addition to successfully cracking the code of landing a deal for herself and others with a major publishing house, she continues to “pay it forward” with the experience of NK Tribe Called Success, the Kings of the Castle Series, the Knights of the Castle Series, and by organizing the annual Cavalcade of Authors, which gives readers intimate access to the most accomplished writing talent today. She resides in Chicago where she is working on her next two books and co-writing three books with younger members of her family.
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