Wynn-Wynn Media
Katie Bond

Katie Schroder Bond is privileged to represent “artists of the written word”—the creative, talented novelists who’ve found themselves at home in Thomas Nelson’s best-selling, award-winning fiction division. Before coming to Thomas Nelson, Katie served as a publicist at WaterBrook Press, handling corporate communications, events, and book campaigns. She began her career at Peachtree Publishers as a publicity and marketing assistant. She holds a BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, with emphasis on literary essay, Southern literature, and children’s books, from Agnes Scott College in Atlanta. She also completed the Publishing Institute, a graduate program at the University of Denver. A feisty cat named Chapter keeps Katie and her Colorado cowboy husband, Bryce, company at their home in Nashville. Twitter: @KSBond.

What Story Are You Telling?
Narrating Your Career as a Novelist

My first grade teacher, Mrs. Nutt, was the first person, after my parents, whom I recall instilling in me a great love of stories—reading, writing, and telling them. At the start of that school year, we put on a little play for our classmates. Like most dramatic presentations aimed at overcrowded public school classrooms, the play featured little plot and an overwhelming list of minor characters (talking animals, all of them) designed to give every pupil a speaking role. No small parts, only small actors. Literally—about twenty-seven tiny people playing Wise Owl, Sneaky Raccoons 1 and 2, Wiley Squirrel, and so on.

I was a quiet, observant child, always preferring to analyze what everyone else did before I made a move. So I stood by, meticulously painting wood grain pattern onto the puppet stage tree, and by the time my classmates were done fighting over who got to wear Mrs. Malodorous Skunk’s black-and-white stole, we ran one cast position short and I was left without a role. Mrs. Nutt, always quick on her feet, declared, “Katie will be our Narrator.”

The Cast of Characters page contained no listing for this “Narrator,” nor did the script offer her any lines. But this, Mrs. Nutt explained, was half the fun. The Narrator gets to move the story along. She gets to write her own lines to explain to the audience what the characters are doing, how they’re feeling, what they’re thinking even when they don’t say so aloud. She’s ultimately in charge of the success of the play. She’s the boss.

This Narrator thing had a nice ring to it.

It was my very first opportunity for organized leadership, and I took it very seriously. Never missing an opportunity for a craft project, I fashioned a “NARRATOR” badge of pink construction paper and wore it everywhere from lunch to P.E. to science class all week.

A classroom full of loquacious woodland creatures moved at my command. Above a noisy, plotless forest floor, I rose to give the aerial storyteller’s view, granting identity and purpose. Something like that.

Fast-forward to my current role as publicist managing a cast of real characters—the narrators wrangling multiple casts of their own in each of their novels, seamlessly communicating inherent meaning in their books, and then with great excitement, presenting these works of art and amusement to a waiting audience. And by and large, these great narrators—called novelists—are also directing real lives of their own, filled with day jobs, deadlines, flooded inboxes, and little ones who need “a squirrel costume for tomorrow’s play, please, Mommy.”

I say to these authors, “I want to help you identify the story you’re telling the literary world about you—what’s the story of your career, as told to your publishing house, the media, fellow authors, and readers?”

I’m aware that our relationship is a partnership with all parties working toward mutual goals. I want to be myself and part of something bigger than my stories, listening to your wise input after research of what retailers and readers want.

Be mindful of your reputation. Are you constantly missing deadlines without any nod to how it’s affecting a team on the inside? Are you finding ways to shape what’s next, asking your publishing team to help define the arc of your career, or are you fighting all input, too hyper-focused on whether this one next book will cut it? Are you an integral part of your publishing team, each of you serving one another, or are you constantly singing the “what have you done for me lately” tune?

I’m a professional but humble author. I’m aware that you, too, have deadlines and quotas. I respect that your role is not to create best-selling books or to remember everything about me from last year’s book campaign, but I’m grateful how your role as cultural observer and recorder can help raise awareness of the work I’m producing. Find the balance. It rests somewhere between “I don’t have time to communicate with media—my role is simply to churn out the best stories to get on the shelf as quickly as possible” and “I expect to be interviewed by every media outlet available, no matter how relevant.” Help your publicist find the story behind the story—that you have a new book out is not in and of itself newsworthy. But if there’s a hook we can make interesting to a reporter based on what he’s looking to write, we’ve all created gold.

I’m honored to work side by side with you in producing stories for discriminating but insatiable readers. I want to share our readership, our craft, and our support so that we all become better and more successful writers. Now more than ever, reader tribes are talking to one another about what’s great and what’s not. Why not bank on that and share your circles? Are you playing fair, taking your place beside other accomplished writers and cheering them on at the success of the genre as a whole, or are you nervously withholding praise, ideas, and friendship out of fear that someone could take over the spotlight?

I’m an accessible, interesting, authentic person. Allow me to engage you, and let’s talk about what’s important—help me write books that are real, with redeeming value, and respond to your “felt needs” best. Regarding readily accessible social media, you’ve heard it before: It’s a conversation, not a monologue. There is no manual for this stuff, you can’t follow in whole the script used by another successful author, and you don’t develop a Web presence overnight. My friend Jeane Wynn talks about the Proper Care and Feeding of Readers—referring to the work it takes to both provide great stories regularly and to foster relationships beyond the pages, too. Also strike a balance between writing to core fans and expanding your craft and outreach to draw in new readers, aka future core fans.

Following my first grade power trip with pink construction paper credentials, Mrs. Nutt taught me a valuable life lesson I still treasure: The best narrators are the ones who direct with graceful authority but ultimately go unnoticed for the power of the narratives they’re leading. Those are the true success stories.