What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
My name is Kytka Hilmar-Jezek. I was born in Prague, Czech Republic. My parents escaped in 1968 and were taken to the United States under Political Asylum. I grew up in Southern California and have spent the last 8 years traveling extensively. My home is with my family.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I’ve always been a pioneer and an adventurer. As a child I loved reading because I did not know any other children who had a life like my family growing up. I came to the US when I was 4. I did not speak a word of English, none of us did. It was difficult to be different in a culture that values sameness. Books were my friends because I could find stories that were much like my own, I felt connected.
When did you first consider yourself as a “writer”?
I have boxes upon boxes of my diaries, journals and notebooks. I have been writing since I can remember.
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
I self published with 1st Books which later became Author House. I paid a lot of money and I was not happy with the final result. I felt I had no control and my words and images were changed in a way which I did not like. Many years later I discovered Amazon’s CreateSpace and I published through them and never looked back. I am happy with them because they make it possible for so many people’s unique voices to be heard. It’s not costly, you maintain control, it’s easy and now there’s Kindle too. The more authors in the world, the happier I am.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
I am a speaker and I teach people how to be entrepreneurs by monetizing what they know. I teach them to write and create books which I’ve found creates and entire framework for them enabling them to then create entire product lines. The tools today make it so simple, everyone should do it.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
Book Power: A Platform for Writing, Branding, Positioning & Publishing. I take the reader through a gamified way to creating your book, much like a puzzle, to get out of writer’s block and a book into your hands – and your client’s hands.
Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
Be More Network, LLC working through CreateSpace.
Do you have a “lucky charm” or “lucky routine” you follow when waiting for your book to be accepted by a publisher?
I like the control I have self publishing. I don’t necessarily believe in luck – I believe we make our own luck when we take action.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
Since I speak my books into being, it can take anywhere from 3-4 days. The process is always much faster in my head and if I sit down to write, much is lost before I can capture it. When I get into these moments of creative flow, I turn on a recording device and just capture it to be transcribed later. In Book Power and my Book Power Training, I teach my students to do the same. Often times they are surprised with how it later appears on paper. The usual comment is “Wow, I don’t know I was so awesome!”
Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
I’ve ghost written a few books based on notes and recordings of the authors. They are difficult for me because it is their essence, not mine. If I am not in a deep relationship with the person, it makes it challenging. I don’t ghost write anymore for that reason, though I do have two assistants that are very good at it.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
My genre is “out of the box” types of content, whether it be alternative medicine, education, parenting, holistic medicine, raw foods, entrepreneurship or small business marketing – I love creative concepts that are new and not common. We continue to grow and evolve and the people that are tipping the scales to ne ideas, concepts, growth, etc. are gaining more power and speed because of the technology available to us. I am on a mission to find all of these amazing people and give them further reach through their own books.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
Book Power is based on a workshop I have been teaching for many years. People kept asking for a book, so I created it. Right now I am in post production for the home study training program because not everyone can get to my live events. But I enjoy the travel and meeting people at the events. I love hearing their ideas and the best part is seeing them light up when they grasp the simplicity of actually creating a book and how important it is as a tool to build your personal brand. I share how to get engineer a best seller and how to use Amazon as a search engine. This is important information for writers of fiction and non-fiction.
Do you have a favourite out of the books you have written? If so why is it your favourite?
My favorite is probably Reiki for Children because it is my first. The wonderful thing about that book is that it consistently brings royalties, even 20 years later. If I want a surge, I simply call a radio station or write a guest blog post and more sales roll in. In a workshop recently, I was outlining how royalties add up over time and I normally make about $350 a month on that book. Multiply that by 12 months a year and then by 20 years and it comes to approx. $84,000 dollars. And it took me less than a week to write. When people begin to think longer term and grasp that reality, it makes sense. This is why I teach people to write. It’s my little nest egg and I have about 50 of them now, some in my name and others in pen names. It gives me the freedom to live life on my terms, and that is very powerful.
Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?
I primarily write non-fiction so the character does not apply, though in my parenting and homeschooling books I am the true character, sharing my experiences.
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
I have been writing since I can remember. I still have my certificates for best penmanship in class for grades 1, 2 and 3. I love writing, the written word, how writing flows, looks, reads… all of it.
Where do you get your book plot ideas from?What/Who is your inspiration?
Life is the best teacher. My ideas come from what I see, live, experience. I have a strong desire to help people express their true essence and I believe that is what we are here to do, to be storytellers of our experience to teach others what paths to follow, which steps to avoid and so forth. Everyone has an incredible story, and everyone should write it.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I record because I can type all of about three words per minute. My routine is to always have some kind of recording device. I speak my writing. My hands could never keep up, so I record and then have my words transcribed. Many people stumble with “writers block” and I just don’t believe in that.
Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them? ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
Sometimes. I know that many of my students give their manuscript to family and friends and while they may mean well, they have comments that discourage the author from publishing. This breaks my heart because so much of our identity in this culture is based on acceptance from the herd. I believe that books are meant to allow you to let your true voice come out and that the process helps people overcome fears that they have. I tell my students to let them comment and review after they’ve published and not to give too much weight to the words of others. No one should have to censor or edit their story to please others – it is like denying their right to their own voice.
Do you gift books to readers to do reviews?
Yes, sometimes. Though I know Amazon has “google slapped” several authors who had reviews from people who were not verified buyers, so it’s a tricky space these days.
Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
If I have time, I do. Again, I travel a lot. The reviews that mean the most to me are the letters I receive from parents whose journey has been changed because of my parenting books. I love those letters, and actually call them my “love letters”. I have about 13,000 of them. I’ve been collecting them for over 20 years. They started coming back in the day when I had a yahoo discussion group. I was very vocal there and had quite a following. That was way before social media!
What was the toughest/best review you have ever had?
I had a virtual assistant upload the wrong eBook file to Kindle and we scheduled a free promotion for the next day. There was not enough time to stop it. What she uploaded was the transcripted version with no corrections, fill ins, etc. It was very raw and almost sounded like it was in code. It’s like my shorthand to myself – I know when I get the document where I need to add on, etc. But that was what made it’s way to Kindle. The review was horrible and because it was mixed with a direct transcript from a tele summit I did on “radical unschooling” it set the space for taking things out of context. I just wish she had let me know so I could have tried to pull the book. In any case, things like that happen. I replied to the review explaining what happened and many other reviews came in that were 5 star by people who enjoyed it – even in it’s raw state, so it’s all relative. You can never please everyone and that should not be your goal. In fact, if I am pissing off people, I know I am usually on to something good!
Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
No, not at all because I am a strong advocate of freedom to express oneself and as I said before, we cannot please everyone. If there are grammatical or editing issues, I would like to be alerted because something may have slipped through. But as far as subject matter – I know there will be people who like and others who do not like my books.
How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books?
I believe that books are like business cards, they are marketing tools and I teach my students how to use them to grow their businesses and brands. If you begin there, your title and cover should convey your brand and unique proposition. Because as I said, Amazon works like a search engine, you should be conscious of what is being searched, relevant keywords, etc. and to optimize your book as you would sales copy for a web page. I know this takes us out of the author space, but authors are in business too, so I include these things when I teach others because they help sales and sales drives attention to the author, which helps business.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
I select a book title after I have done keyword research and written the book. Starving artists who paint for themselves, and then cannot part with the paintings usually die unknown and hungry. Many authors follow this path too. I believe you should have flexibility and keep a business mind if you want to make money and generate business from your book.
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I always create an outline. It normally comes in the form of a question. I think most people buying nonfiction books are seeking answers to questions or solutions to problems. If you can ask the question the reader is asking and then offer the best answers, you have the makings of a powerful book that will help people. I do not write to entertain or escape, I write to inform, inspire and educate so yes, I have a plan. I want to take them on a specific journey from point “a” to point “b”. For example, in Book Power I share the way I create books by playing the content like a game which I put together much like a puzzle. There is no room for writers block because you are focused on playing the game. Most of my students do complete their books with this process.
How do you market/promote your books?
I teach workshops, have trainings and speak at events. The books are tools that people want, so I create them. The more personal books on education, parenting, etc were also requested… People would say “tell me how you do this” and so I answered the question. I was just being me and sharing what I’ve learned and how I’ve proceeded. I do not have a strong book marketing or promotional campaign because that is not my focus. I love to teach and inspire others by sharing my unique journey.
What do you think makes a book a really good/bestseller ?
I think that best sellers are engineered and constructed. Good books stand the test of time. But people change, culture changes. What resonated with the group 15 years ago may be the absolute opposite today. Traditional publishing houses have controlled whose book will get to number one for many years. With the self publishing industry exploding right now, I love seeing the people choose and select who should be a best seller. Followers decide. A good twitter or social media campaign can create such a buzz, sometimes a book gets to the top just because it is “the thing” of the day. Tim Ferris talks about how he applied internet marketing techniques to make his book go to number one. Kindle authors discuss using KDP free days to jolt Amazon’s ranking systems. Categories can be set in a way where you have little competition in your niche and can easily make it to number one, even if the book is garbage. So I do not really give much weight to the best seller ranking. All of my books have been at #1 on Amazon at one time or another. I would test specific strategies and it’s actually very easy to make it to number one. As I said, most are engineered. More value to me are the books that stand the test of time, ones with incredible depth, sensitivity and filled with a veracity of human feeling and expression.
Have you ever suffered from a “writer’s block”? What did you do to get past the “block”?
Never. I think it’s an excuse. Where people get stuck is in trying to choose the right words, select the correct way to state specific things. I think if they just wrote (or better yet spoke) and then went back to select better words, etc. the block would not be there.
What do you do to unwind and relax?Do you have a hobby?
All of my free time is spent with my family. We travel a lot so we like to go exploring. I like to see the culture of where we are. We meet people and go into their homes. We eat at local mom & pops restaurants, visit the smaller shops, talk to the inn keepers, etc. Everyone has an interesting story, so I try to inspire everyone I meet to share their story.
Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
I have written several book under pen names from different parts of my life, all inspired by true events though they are listed as fiction. I have had some amazing adventures in my life.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of “The moral of this story is..”)
No. I am a “tell it like it is” kind of person. While I understand the archetypical essences of fables and fairytales, and I love them – I do not include any of that in my writing.
Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
The authors I enjoy are rebels and pioneers. They are brutally honest and open. When I read them I feel as though they are baring their souls. I connect with this type of writing.
Which format of book do you prefer, ebook,hardback, or paperback?
Paper books. I like the look and feel of a hardback and those are the keepers. Paperbacks are more practical and mine are all filled with highlights and dog eared pages. I don’t think you’ll ever see me on a e-reader. I like the sound of the pages turning and I pick up many books in second hand stores. I like they smell of them. Sometimes I find notes, inscriptions, an old reciept…
What is your favourite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
I have many favorites from different parts of my life. I enjoy true adventure. I respect movers and shakers, those who stir things up.
Then there are those with honest common sense or poignant human feeling and expression who reveal the obvious and make it seem divine. I love to read Derrick Jensen.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst book to movie transfer?
No, I do not care for book to movie transfers. It’s always much better in my head. If I had to choose, I suppose The Notebook was done well. Also Tuesday’s with Morrie. Jack Lemmon did a great job.
Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
Never. Too many people see books as their trusted friends. They are fun to curl up with on a rainy day. Why would we want to be rid of them?
Do you think children at schools these days are encouraged enough to read? and/or do Imaginative writing?
No. I think schools would be better replaced with libraries and the children should have free reign of reading what best suits their interests. Books give the vision and the impact that schools today are seriously lacking.
Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
I’ve always been an avid reader. I love books and reading. I still read aloud to my children. They are 20, 15 and 12 and we all read to each other. Reading is very important in our family.
Did you have a favourite author as a child?
Judy Blume in grade five was the answer to all girls’ prayers.
Do you have a treasured book from your childhood? If yes, what is it?
I had a few: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds by Joy Adamson and Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Do you have a favourite genre of book?
Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn’t finish?
I have read hundreds of Theosophic and Anthroposophic books, but no matter how much I love his work – Rudolf Steiner’s words just do not translate well into English. I actually got much more value reading them in Czech than in English.
Are there any New Authors you are interested in for us to watch out for? and Why should we watch out for them?
I meet so many aspiring authors, and when I hear their stories – they are all amazing. My personal policy is if it comes to me and catches my attention, there must be a reason, and I usually pursue by reading. I find all stories captivating especially by writers who are not afraid to take chances, to say something revealing, controversial, poignant, inventive. People are so interesting, wonderful, vulnerable, strong, weird, amazing and so much more. I love the human story.
Is there anything in your book/books you would change now if you could and what would it be?
It would be visual aspects, perhaps formatting. Maybe I did not thank enough people who inspired me.
What do you think about book trailers?
For me they are like movies. I love film as much as I love books. But some people see and therefore should create via film and others express with word so should create via book. Rare is it that it transcends the boundaries and works in both.
What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Forget “just do it” – get to “just DID it”. Just get it going. Set a deadline. Play it like a game. Don’t listen to the writer’s block nonsense. Stop chasing perfection. Don’t try to be someone else. Your voice is unique and your message powerful – share it.
Do you or would you ever use a pen name?
Yes, I do and I have.
If you could invite three favourite writers to dinner, who would you invite and enjoy chatting with?
I’ve been fortunate to have dinner with most of my favorite writers. I am very blessed and privileged with the opportunities that come my way and I have met all of my heroes who are living. An impossible then would be someone who has died or who is hidden. I would like to have dinner with Milan Kundera, author of The Unbearable Lightness of Being (and a Czech like myself). Subcommandante Marcos who wrote “Our Word Is Our Weapon”, most may recognize him from the Chiapas stories. And finally, Rumi.
Where can readers follow you?
My New Book: Book Power: A Platform for Writing, Branding, Positioning & Publishing
Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/kytka
Website & Blog: http://www.BeMoreThanYouAre.com
Media and Speaking Contact: http://www.KytkaMedia.com
And any other information you wish to supply?
I wanted to THANK YOU Sandra, for the opportunity to share here today! I do live Book Power Events all over the world and am open to invitations to speak and present my methods. Just contact me!