Wisdom from the Publishing World with Kristin Oakley

Welcome to the October installment of the 2021 Author Series, where a published author shares the advice they would give to their pre-published self along with what they wished they'd known before they published their first book. Kristin Oakley is our October author. I first met Kristin at one of the many University of Wisconsin continuing education writing programs (which alas are no longer continuing!) We've collaborated before in this space on articles about critique groups, attending writing conferences, and naming our characters. And, as she references below, I will be working with her as she begins to promote her new series in 2022. 

Kristin A. Oakley is the author of two award-winning suspense thrillers, Carpe Diem, Illinois and God on Mayhem Street. She teaches writing workshops on everything from character development and cliffhangers to self-publishing and book tours. Kristin has critiqued manuscripts through the UW-Madison Division of Continuing Studies and has helped hundreds of writers hone their agent pitches at the Division’s Writers’ Institute. As a former Chicago Writers Association board member, she was the managing editor of The Write City Magazine and The Write City Review. Kristin is working on a four-book, young adult thriller series called The Devil Particle Series, which will be released in August of 2022. Kristin also writes a bi-monthly newsletter about her writing life, available at kristinoakley.net.

Scroll down for more info on her published books!


If I could go back and talk to my pre-published self, what advice would I give?

I’ve loved to write my whole life and, as a teenager, considered pursuing writing as a career. I thought the only way to make money as a writer was to become a journalist and, after taking one high school journalism class, I decided journalism wasn’t for me. Thirty years later, in 2009, I sat down to write my first novel, Carpe Diem, Illinois. I wish I’d pursued a writing career sooner, but I also think I wouldn’t be the writer I am today if I hadn’t had those thirty years of life experience.

Honestly, I really can’t think of one thing I’d do differently as a writer. From the very beginning, I looked at writing as a process, a journey. I started with an idea for a book, took a class, and joined a critique group which, because of our deadlines, helped me finish my manuscripts. I workshopped the manuscripts at UW-Madison’s Division of Continuing Studies’ Write-by-the-Lake and Weekend With Your Novel almost every year for ten years. I read numerous books on the craft of writing (Stephen King’s On Writing, Lisa Cron’s Wired for Story, Robert McKee’s Story, Dwight V. Swain’s Techniques of the Selling Writer, Donald Maass’ Writing the Breakout Novel, etc.), sent manuscripts to beta readers, hired editors, queried and pitched to agents, and decided to self-publish both Carpe Diem, Illinois and God on Mayhem Street through Little Creek Press. At various times over the last twelve-plus years, it’s been difficult, easy, disappointing, frustrating, exciting, depressing, joyous, and unbelievably fulfilling. I know I’m in for more of the same for the next twelve years and beyond and, honestly, I can’t wait.

What do I wish I had known before publishing my first book? 

I wish I had known a lot more about marketing. It would have been nice to have a marketing degree or at least some marketing classes under my belt. There’s so much that goes into marketing novels, and I knew so little. For instance, three weeks before the release date of Carpe Diem, Illinois, I discovered I needed to contact authors to write back cover blurbs for me. Luckily, Authors Randy Richardson and Susan Kaye Quinn were willing and able to send me their comments in time. Now I’ve set the release of The Devil Particle Series for August of next year and am taking that time to give myself a master class in book launches. I’m listening to podcasts such as “Book Launch Show,” taking courses such as Bryan Cohen’s “5-Day Amazon Ad Profit Challenge” and Mark Dawson’s “Five Key Tips for Profitable Book Marketing,” reading books by Dave Chessson of Kindlepreneur and Susan Kaye Quinn, and hiring experts like Valerie Biel. I meet once a week with two other authors to discuss our marketing strategies and that’s been invaluable. This time around, I’ll be ready!

Thanks for sharing your advice with us, Kristin!!

You can follow Kristin's writing adventures and keep track of her upcoming books online here:



Carpe Diem, Illinois (PURCHASE LINK HERE)

A revolutionary town laden with secrets. A Chicago reporter pushed to the brink. Will the story of a lifetime lead to his downfall? For decades, the small town of Carpe Diem, Illinois has quietly unschooled its children, eschewing tests and classrooms for real-life experiences. Now, long-smoldering political feuds and deep personal secrets threaten to explode. Can prize-winning Chicago journalist Leo Townsend overcome his own demons and expose those behind the scheme before it's too late? And when the truth is finally revealed, can Carpe Diem ever be the same? Carpe Diem, Illinois is the suspenseful first tale in the Leo Townsend mystery thriller series. If you like political intrigue, complex twists and turns, and morally torn heroes, then you’ll love Kristin A. Oakley’s pulse-pounding novel.

God on Mayhem Street (PURCHASE LINK HERE)

Chicago reporter Leo Townsend has landed the interview of a lifetime with openly gay, front-running US presidential candidate Griffin Carlisle. But when Leo is forced to abandon the interview to rush to the aide of his estranged father, Leo's personal and professional worlds collide. When Carlisle visits the Townsend farm to grant that interview, secrets are exposed that jeopardize not just Leo's family, but an entire nation.



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