Ep.5 – How Your Setting Can Help You Narrow Your Niche with Dawn Klinge
Jun 30, 2022 by Dalene Bickel
How Your Setting Can Help You Narrow Your Niche with Dawn Klinge

Welcome to Ink and Impact!

Today I am excited to interview my virtual friend. Dawn Klinge. A Christian writer who writes historical fiction, particularly inspirational romance novels, Dawn is a Pacific Northwest native who loves a rainy day, a hot cup of coffee, and a good book to get lost in. (Yes, I love to do that as well.)

This wife and mom to two young adults is often inspired by true personal and historical accounts. Dawn is also a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Association.

Dawn Klinge

Dawn Klinge

Sorrento Girl is her debut novel, the first in the historic hotels collection, which includes Sorrento Girl, Biltmore Girl, and Palmer Girl.

We’ll be speaking more about those with Dawn in today’s episode. But first, I want to welcome you. Welcome, Dawn!

Dawn Klinge  00:53

Thank you. It’s good to be here.

Books that Made an Impact

Dalene Bickel  00:57

So one question that I ask all of my guests is: What is one book in addition to the Bible that has impacted you in some way, whether it was in your childhood or more recently as an adult?

Dawn Klinge  01:10

I love that question. There are so many books that have impacted me, but I think about the first Christian fiction books that I really fell in love with that showed me what Christian fiction could be: Jan Karon’s Mitford series.

I discovered that when I was pregnant with my daughter, my first child, and I just loved the sense of community … I felt like I knew the town that she wrote, and I loved the characters and everything about the way she wrote – the way that the faith message was just very organic; it was just a part of their lives. It wasn’t preachy.

I decided, that’s how I want to tell stories. And so I think it had a pretty big impact. I wanted to make people feel the way I felt when I read those books.

Dalene Bickel  02:16

Yes, isn’t that the truth? So was that what planted the seed for you to become a writer? Or had you wanted to become a writer before that?

Becoming a Writer

Dawn Klinge  02:26

Since I was little, I wanted to be a writer. I had my first story published in a magazine when I was probably about ten, which was a little story about my teddy bear. And that was what hooked me.

When I got older, I kind of thought that … I didn’t think there was a possibility. I thought that was just something that other people did. It took me a long time to come around to the fact that no, I can be a writer.

Dalene Bickel  03:01

And here you are now with multiple books.

What was the biggest challenge you had to overcome when you were writing your first book?

Dawn Klinge  03:12

I think it was the confidence, thinking of myself as a writer; that I can do this and that.

That being a writer is not unattainable; it’s just one step at a time.

Just trust God through the process, and He’ll show me what to do.

Writing a Standalone vs. a Series

Dalene Bickel  03:32

So I am familiar with your historic hotel series; I’ve read the last in the series. It’s a great standalone, but I also look forward to reading the first two.

But I was curious: Did you intend for the very first one – Sorrento Girl – to be a standalone? Or did you always have a plan for a series?

Dawn Klinge  03:56

I did intend for it to be a standalone. And then I fell in love with one of the characters, one of the minor characters. I wanted to write her story, too. So the books they are standalone, but there is a family thread that runs through them.

Determining Your Setting, Discovering Your Niche

Dalene Bickel  04:16

So what was the driving force to write Sorrento Girl? It’s about a hotel. So was it a hotel that you’ve always been fascinated by? Or you read an article about it? Or how did you hone in on that?

Dawn Klinge  04:30

I knew that I wanted to write a historical story set in Seattle. I love Seattle. That was my home up until a few months ago.

So I just started doing research and looking through books about the history of Seattle and I came upon some pictures of the Sorrento Hotel. Then I discovered it’s one of the oldest hotels in Seattle and I thought, Oh, I bet there’s some interesting stories about that. So I just started digging deeper.

I found a story that occurred during the Depression in the ‘30s [regarding] a university nearby at the time – it was called Seattle College; it’s now Seattle University. They were growing, and they needed a place to house their women students. During the Depression, there wasn’t a lot of tourism so the hotel was struggling. They were able to house the women in the Sorrento Hotel.

I remember thinking, How cool would that be? And so that was the basis of why she [my character] lived in the hotel. I just wanted to tell the story of these girls, and particularly that character.

Narrowing Your Niche

Dalene Bickel  05:54

Stories sometimes find us, don’t they? We read something, and it just clicks and we know that’s the story we were meant to tell.

So I was curious, too. I know you said that you intended it to be standalone and then you fell in love with a minor character and created this series. You were kind of organically finding out about hotels. Do you ever think that you niched yourself too much?

I know as authors, we’re always told you’re to niche down on your genre. And so you’ve really done a great job of that.

You’re not just historical fiction.

You’re not just a romance author.

You’re a Christian, historical, inspirational, romance, hotel collection author. I think that’s fabulous. It makes sense. But did you ever worry about that being too microscopic?

Dawn Klinge  06:53

Well, I’m about to find out, because my next story does not take place at a hotel. And it’s not historical. So I’m curious how that will be received. But yeah, I do have a lot.

Something that people like to say to me is if they’ve gone and traveled to a historic hotel that they love, I often get told, “Oh, you should write about this hotel” or “You should write about that hotel.” So that kind of makes me happy that people think of me when they think of historic hotels.

Conducting Long-Distance Research

Dalene Bickel  07:28

You never know, there may be more collections down the road.

So you were able to do the research about Seattle, and you knew a little bit about Seattle. But the other two hotels were set … one in the Midwest in Chicago, one’s on the East Coast in New York City. Did that affect your research at all? Did that make it any more difficult?

Dawn Klinge  07:51

I mean, I definitely know Seattle better than Chicago or New York. But I had spent time in each of those cities. I had to do more research.

I used to Google Streetview a lot to really get a feel for it. I would actually walk the neighborhoods that I was writing

Dalene Bickel

Great idea.

Dawn Klinge 

And I intended to actually spend time in those cities while I was writing, but I it ended up that I was writing during the pandemic.

Dalene Bickel  08:23

There’s that.

Dawn Klinge  08:24

But yeah, Seattle was definitely easier to write about just because it is close to me.

Deadlines, Editing & Publishing

Dalene Bickel  08:31

Sure. So I’m curious, how long does it typically take to you for you to write a book?

Dawn Klinge  08:38

The three hotel books, those were about nine months each, from start to finish with the research all the way through the editing. But right now, I’m taking a bit longer for my current one. I’ve given myself permission to rest a little more this year.

Dalene Bickel  09:00

Yes. And if you actually happen to listen to the previous episode of Ink and Impact, we had the guest author Melanie Redd who spoke about rest, especially for writers. So yes, that’s definitely something we all need to take advantage of periodically, for sure.

So when you were writing and these took about nine months, did you set yourself a goal? Were you self-publishing, and you could set whatever deadline you wanted? Or were you working with a publishing company and they set that goal?

Dawn Klinge  09:29

I did have some deadlines set even though I was self-publishing because I hired an editor and I had to work within her timeframe, too. So I knew that I had to have it done when she was ready for it. And so yeah, I think that was good to have that deadline.

Dalene Bickel  09:52

Yes, one thing I’ve found whenever I’ve been writing books is if you don’t have a deadline, it does not get written. You just keep finding excuses to procrastinate. Those deadlines are so important, whether you’re self-publishing or traditionally publishing.

And I’m so happy to hear you say that you got an editor because it’s so tempting as self-published authors to save on money, right? Sometimes that’s why we choose to do self-publishing. But editing –  finding a quality editor – is so important because ultimately, we are writing for the Lord. And we want to write in excellence. We want to make sure that what we’re putting out for our readers is quality writing that can point toward Him.

And editors are trained to find things that we can overlook. When we’re writing, when we’re so ingrained in our story, we tend to skim over things when we’re rereading it for the 30th time, right? And we can make mistakes or miss some things that they’ll be able to fix, and they’ll see holes in the story that we might not have.

Editing is super, super important. And I encourage any author, to always utilize an editor.

Dawn Klinge  11:01

They are worth their weight in gold.

Favorite Scripture

Dalene Bickel  11:03

They really are. So during this time, you know, nine months … that’s a significant time. It’s almost a year. And during that time, I’m sure there challenges and different things that go on. Was there a verse of Scripture that maintained you throughout your writing process?

Dawn Klinge  11:21

Yes. Since my first book that I wrote, which was nonfiction, I’ve had this verse that has really guided me – Proverbs 3:5-6.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him.”

That that’s my life verse. I think it guides me through everything.

Your Books’ Impact on Your Readers

Dalene Bickel  11:43

Such a good one. Yes. So when you’re writing these books … ultimately, we want to share these with our readers, and we want to offer them something. In what way did you hope to impact your readers with your books?

Dawn Klinge  12:02

I wanted to show that … well, like I was talking about the Jan Karon books, the Mitford series, I got a great source of comfort out of those. She writes about some things that are, you know ….

The world can be dark and scary sometimes. But there is always light and you can always find light; God is always there.

I wanted to convey that same source of comfort. And I write about some hard things. My books take place during times of turmoil in history, and some dark things are … I’m writing about the Great Depression, which sounds like it could be depressing. But I found, actually, that it was very encouraging to me.

As I did my research, I saw that there was a lot of joy to be found. It wasn’t all dark and depressing. There was a lot of light and joy and good things that came out of that time period as well.

Dalene Bickel  13:09

And the same can be said for today as well, right? Yes, there are lots of challenges right now. And I’m sure it’ll go down in history as being a very dark time. But as we know, God is still at work. And He offers so much comfort and peace and joy and hope for the future. We know that this earth isn’t our home, right? We will eventually have eternal rest in Him in heaven. So that’s what a wonderful hope to look forward to.

A Fun Instagram Marketing Idea

Dalene Bickel

So I know I had shared a few prep questions to give you an idea of what the interviewer was going to rotate around. But I just thought of something. Whenever I first found you and we became friends online on Instagram, it was right around the time that Biltmore Girl was coming out, and you hosted an Instagram book club.

I was wondering if you could just kind of touch on that for our fellow listeners or, you know, authors out there that might not have thought of that or heard of that. Can you explain kind of what that is?

Dawn Klinge  14:09

Yeah, that was really fun. Each month – I think it was a month – I would choose a book, a historical romance so that they would know what genre to expect. And I just invited people to join. You can form a little Instagram group, like a group message, and we just communicated that way.

I had some questions at the end of the month that prompted discussions of the book. And occasionally, throughout the month, I would also remind people – maybe give some fun little backstory that was related to the book but didn’t give any spoilers away, just to keep people on track. I tried to provide some other stuff to make the book fun and had some interest.

Dalene Bickel  15:11

How long did you run the book club?

Dawn Klinge  15:15

That was probably … I think about six months.

Dalene Bickel  15:19

So you selected like five books from other authors leading up to your launch for Biltmore Girl. And then the month of your launch was always … I remember before the actual launch hit, you were giving little hints about the history and the location [of your book], and little things like that, like you said, without giving it away.

It was so much fun because it garnered a lot of engagement with the people in that club. I was really surprised by how many people got really excited about it because I’m a fan of historical fiction. And it was great to see how many other people out there on Instagram wanted to talk about it as well.

Dawn Klinge  15:57

That was fun.

It’s fun finding other people who love what you love.

Dalene Bickel  16:02

Yes. So you know, Instagram isn’t all just about reels and throwing a post up there; you can really engage with your readers. So I encourage you [my podcast listeners] to try that; that was a lot of fun.

As we’ve been talking through your writing process, you know, you started out … Well, what was the first book that you wrote? You said you wrote a nonfiction book? What was that called?

Dawn Klinge  16:29

Look to Jesus: How to Let Go of Worry and Trust God. Anxiety has always been a part of my life. But it’s been a learning experience, how to trust God more deeply. And that’s what that was about.

 

God in the Journey

Dalene Bickel  16:47

So then, you wrote that book and then the three hotel books? How have you seen God at work in your entire writing journey from nonfiction to fiction, and all of it?

Dawn Klinge  17:00

I think that theme of trusting, that is going to be a theme throughout my life and my writing journey, every step of the way. He’s provided what I needed. And I’m just learning to trust Him more and more. He has never let me down.

Dalene Bickel  17:24

Yes. Love that.

I know you’ve shared quite a lot with us today. And I’m going to obviously share all links to your books and everything that we’ve talked about. But I didn’t know if you had one final piece of advice or encouragement you can share with our listeners?

Find Your Tribe

Dawn Klinge  17:43

I just want to say how important it is as a writer … to find other writers – that’s so important.

Writing is a very solitary activity. Find your tribe.

My critique group – that is extremely important. Having other eyes on your writing; just the accountability. I haven’t had a deadline with this last book. And I haven’t had a lot of … I’ve been tired. Basically, there’s been a lot of other family stuff going on in my personal life.

But having that critique group and that accountability has really kept me consistent. I know that every three weeks, I’ve got to have something to turn in. I don’t want to say I have nothing.

Dalene Bickel  18:37

Right. And I want to clarify to people, too, that a lot of times the word “critique” makes people think, “oooh,” you know, they’re gonna nitpick it to death. But the critique groups are so encouraging.

Yes, they’re going to find some errors and they’ll point them out, but in a loving way, right? It is encouraging, and it does hold you accountable. It’s all those things that are going to benefit you and improve your writing.

Dawn Klinge 

Yes.

Dalene Bickel 

I would love for people to know how they can learn more about you and where they can find your books.

Dawn Klinge  19:13

Well, my website http://www.dawnklinge.com has links to my books. They’re available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Walmart – the usual places online. But yeah, my home base online is DawnKlinge.com.

Dalene Bickel  19:33

And then on social, is there a platform you prefer there?

Dawn Klinge  19:36

My favorite platform is Instagram – that’s where I met you!

Dalene Bickel  19:41

And do you have your books handy? Do you want to hold those up so people can see them if they’re watching on YouTube?

Dawn Klinge  19:47

My first one is Sorrento Girl. And then I wrote Palmer Girl, which actually goes backwards – it takes place in the 1890s and Sorrento Girl’s in the ‘30s. And then my final one was Biltmore Girl. This is the 1960s.

There’s a family thread that connects them. And there’s a Seattle thread that connects them.

Dawn Klinge Historic Hotels Collection

Dawn Klinge Historic Hotels Collection

Dalene Bickel  20:13

That’s great. Yeah, don’t give too much away. But those are great. And those covers are gorgeous. Those really are. So congratulations on that.

Dawn Klinge  20:22

I love my cover designer. She did a good job.

Dalene Bickel  20:28

Yeah, they’re worth the money, too, just like editors.

Dawn Klinge  20:30

Yes.

Dalene Bickel  20:32

Wonderful. Well, thank you so much for joining me, Dawn. I have had so much fun.

Dawn Klinge  20:38

I’ve had fun too. Thank you.

Industry Update

As I mentioned previously, June is Audiobook Month, so I thought I’d share another audiobook tidbit this week as we close out the month.

Findaway

Recently, it was announced the audiobook company Findaway has been acquired by Spotify. And according to a recent Publishers Weekly article titled, “Spotify Completes Findaway Purchase,” Spotify wishes to “diversify its business beyond music streaming” by offering its listeners access to audiobooks.

While most of us may be more familiar with Amazon’s Audible for audiobook access and creation, Findaway appears to be another quality option for indie authors. You can learn more about them at FindawayVoices.com.

Paper Shortage

On a different yet related note, the book publishing industry as a whole is still experiencing a paper shortage. From everything I’ve been reading, it doesn’t seem that we’ll get back to pre-pandemic paper volumes anytime soon, if ever.

Why?

Because in order to stay financially solvent, several print paper companies in the United States have already or are in the process of retooling their machinery to create different paper products. Since the conversion of equipment runs in the millions of dollars, it’s highly unlikely that they’ll revert back to print paper manufacturing in the future.

So how is this affecting authors? There are three things that immediately come to mind:

  1. longer production times,
  2. fewer paper options, and
  3. higher costs.

This, then, just might prompt more authors and publishers to promote alternate book options such as e-books and, you guessed it, audiobooks.

To learn more about the status of the paper industry, read “The Target Report: Paper Industry in Transition.”

Links to all of these articles will be provided on the show notes at InkandImpact.com.

 

Listener Opportunities – Yes, for YOU!

 

Book Giveaway

Today’s the last day to enter for a chance to win a signed, print copy of Just Rest: A 90-Day Devotional.

If you didn’t listen to Episode 3 with Melanie Redd, you’ll definitely want to go back and listen to all of her phenomenal tips for writers and how we can achieve rest. But in that an interview, she also shared about how you can be entered to win a copy of her book.

There are three copies going to be given away, so three lucky winners! Be sure that you enter before the stroke of midnight tonight. That’s eastern time in the United States, and you do have to be a United States resident. Be sure to go there or you can read the show notes for full details at inkandimpact.com.

Question of the Month

Today’s also the last day to participate in the Ink and Impact Question of the Month, which is:

Do you write short or long books (meaning those under 400 pages or over 400 pages) and, more specifically, do you know what your readers prefer?

For the full context behind this question, be sure to check out Episode 2.

To participate, simply email your response to info@inkandimpact.com.

 

Write at The Inkwell

Finally, I want to remind you that you can register for free for The Inkwell. Sometimes, as the 1960s Four Seasons song says, “Silence is Golden.” In this case, it’s the secret sauce for writing productivity.

Each Wednesday at 10am Eastern time I host The Inkwell, a free live writing session for Christian writers. Now in its second year, we continue to gather together, chat for a few minutes at the beginning and the end and spend 40 minutes writing our respective works – in silence.

I encourage you to give it a try and see for yourself how productive you can be!

 

Tune In Next Week…

On next week’s episode of Ink and Impact, I’ll be discussing the three benefits of sharing content before your book is published.

Over the last few weeks, several aspiring authors have asked me a series of related questions regarding sharing content. They asked:

  1. Is it okay to post about the content of my manuscript before it’s published?
  2. How much content can I share on my blog or on social media without giving away the essence of my book, and
  3. What if other people steal my ideas or content before my book is published?

I’m going to address each of these questions next week, so be sure to tune in!

You don’t want to miss it, so be sure to SUBSCRIBE BELOW to be notified when the next episode drops, view full show notes with links, and listen to past episodes.

If you’re already a subscriber, THANK YOU!

Please do me a favor, if you would, and RECOMMEND THIS PODCAST to your writing friends. Simple word of mouth is all I’m asking for and it would really help me, so I appreciate that.

That’s it for today, fellow pen-pusher.

Remember: Don’t just write a book. Make an impact!

 

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