Diane Keyes – Author Interview

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

My most recent book is This Sold House, Staging Your Home to Sell in Today’s Market.

This Sold House is an easy-to-follow home staging guide designed to enhance equity and help home owners and realtors prepare their properties to sell quickly and for the highest possible price in today’s challenging market. Filled with hundreds of quick, easy, low and no-cost ideas, this book gives sellers all the information they need to create the most marketable homes with the least amount of money, time and effort. NO decorating savvy required! It won two 2009 MIPA (Midwest Independent Publisher Awards) awards for best how-to and best business book of 2009. It was also chosen by the Minneapolis Star Tribune as one of their top five picks for “Books for the Home” in December of 09.

Tell us something about yourself.

I am a life-long resident of the Twin Cities and I live in Minneapolis, Minnesota with my husband Tom. I have two married children, and two perfect grandbabies. I’ve worked as a book reviewer, home stager, floral designer, lay minister, and grief counselor.

As a child, I always said I was going to be a writer but I never pursued it until the day I was sitting at a stoplight and the idea for a children’s book came to me in the short space between the red and green lights. I’ve been writing ever since and have several books in process. I spend most of my time writing, marketing and reviewing books, and of course, staging homes.

My children’s book, Spirit of the Snowpeople, was released by Down East Books in November of 08 to a wonderful review by Kirkus and sold out its first printing less than three weeks after its publication date. Last May it was performed by the Open Book Players in Gardiner, Maine.

I’ve been staging homes and teaching homesellers and realtors how to stage homes for over 20 years. I’ve staged four-star restaurants, multi-million-dollar island get-aways and thousands of private homes. And when they needed someone to prepare the Minnesota Governor’s mansion for the Swedish royal family, the governor’s wife called me.

I’ve recently appeared on the local ABC affiliate, KARE 11’s Showcase Minnesota and their Saturday Morning show. I’ve also been a guest on Twin Cities Live—the CBS affiliate WCCO, The Charlie Boone show on WCCO AM radio, and Sandra Yancey’s nationally syndicated ABC radio program. Check the bottom of the page if you’d like to visit my websites.

What inspired you to write this book?

I wrote this book to because I want to help homesellers get the best price they can for their homes— which is especially difficult in today’s challenging real estate market.

How did you publish this book? Why did you decide to self-publish?

My first book, Spirit of the Snowpeople was published by Down East Publishers in Maine. Although they did a wonderful job with the book I receive only thirty-two cents for each book sold. I decided I wanted to receive more of the profits from This Sold House so my husband and I decided to form a publishing company, Third Child Press. I guess the fact that This Sold House has received two MIPA best book awards means we did a pretty good job. Publishing a book is very intimidating and, at times overwhelming, but anyone can do it if they are determined.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I’d heard other authors and songwriters talk about their work coming to them out of the blue so when Snowpeople came to me at the stoplight I decided at that very moment I was meant to be a writer. I went home wrote every word down—it was no effort because I wasn’t creating the text but simply transcribing it. Then I set about getting it published. It took awhile to find an agent and about 5 years to find a publisher but it finally happened and I’ve never looked back.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

The hardest part of writing is not the writing it’s having the courage to face a blank page and the patience to see the project through because it’s after you’ve finished your manuscript that the real work begins.

How do you do research for your books?

Fortunately for me, I have not yet written a book that required any research—but I’m sure I will someday.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?

I could write a book on what I learned from writing this book. I learned patience because each step of the process is very painstaking and time consuming. There are no short-cuts. I also learned that, if possible, new authors should find writers’ groups that can help them navigate the rough waters of book publishing. There is a very steep learning curve and the less you know about the industry, the more money it will cost you.

What are you reading now?

Right now, I am reading two books, a 20-year-old book that I had somehow missed called Hotel New Hampshire by John Irving, one of my favorite authors. The other book is Michelangelo and the Pope’s Ceiling by Ross King.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

I love books of all kinds, literary fiction, spirituality, mysteries, self-help, historical fiction, you name the genre, I’ve read them.

My favorite authors are

* Chaim Potok—for the sheer beauty of his words
* J. K. Rawlings—for the brilliance of her plot
* Eckhart Tolle—for his amazing insights
* Diana Gabaldon—for the complexity of her characters
* And Mark Twain—for his subtle, sardonic wit and message.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

I am currently working on three books right now. One is the sequel to Snowpeople called Waiting for the Snowpeople. I’ve written the first draft and my agent and I are beginning to work out the kinks. The next is a companion to This Sold House, its working title is Making Your Home Your Own, it’s a guide about what to look for when you’re buying a home, what you can do to ensure you maximize your equity when you sell, and how to enjoy your home to the fullest while you’re living there.

The third book is actually a series of board books for toddlers that are entertaining and also teach important lessons.

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

The best advice I can give other writers is advice that was given to me by the first publisher who turned down my children’s book. He wanted to publish it but was unable to because of other commitments. When I asked him what I needed to do to get him to publish the book he said, “It’s business, it’s not personal. If the book doesn’t get published it’s your own damn fault. And if you’re not willing to get out there and market it and sell the book yourself, don’t waste your time looking for a publisher. Publishers publish books, unless you’re a celebrity you must do all the work yourself.”

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

I’m building an Internet presence with a staging blog, I’m appearing on as many radio and TV shows as I can and I’m just learning how to promote my books with Linked-in, Twitter, and Facebook.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Readers can find my books at Barnes and Noble, Borders, other bookstores, as well as Amazon. And you can learn more about me and my books on my websites listed below. I’m also going to be featured in the Sunday April fourth or eleventh Home section of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.