Upcoming Agent Spotlight Interviews & Guest Posts

  • Bethany Weaver Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 6/26/2024
  • Rebecca Williamson Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 7/8/2024
  • Sheila Fernley Agent Spotlight Interview, Critique Giveaway, and One-Hour Zoom Call on 7/29/2024
  • Erica McGrath Agent Spotlight Interview and Query Critique Giveaway on 8/12/2024

Agent Spotlight & Agent Spotlight Updates

  • Agent Spotlights & Interviews have been updated through the letter "K" as of 3/28/2024 and many have been reviewed by the agents. Look for more information as I find the time to update more agent spotlights.

On Writing a Book a Year and Increasing Your Instagram Followers: Interview With June Hur and A Crane Among Wolves Giveaway and IWSG Post

Happy Wednesday Everyone! Today I’m excited to have author June Hur here to share about her YA historical A Crane Among Wolves. I interviewed June when she was a debut author in 2020, and you can read her interview here. A Crane Among Wolves is based on a true story in Korean history, and I’m excited to read it.

Here’s a blurb from Goodreads:

June Hur, bestselling author of The Red Palace, crafts a devastating and pulse-pounding tale that will feel all-too-relevant in today’s world, based on a true story from Korean history.

Hope is dangerous. Love is deadly.

1506, Joseon. The people suffer under the cruel reign of the tyrant King Yeonsan, powerless to stop him from commandeering their land for his recreational use, banning and burning books, and kidnapping and horrifically abusing women and girls as his personal playthings.

Seventeen-year-old Iseul has lived a sheltered, privileged life despite the kingdom’s turmoil. When her older sister, Suyeon, becomes the king’s latest prey, Iseul leaves the relative safety of her village, traveling through forbidden territory to reach the capital in hopes of stealing her sister back. But she soon discovers the king’s power is absolute, and to challenge his rule is to court certain death.

Prince Daehyun has lived his whole life in the terrifying shadow of his despicable half-brother, the king. Forced to watch King Yeonsan flaunt his predation through executions and rampant abuse of the common folk, Daehyun aches to find a way to dethrone his half-brother once and for all. When staging a coup, failure is fatal, and he’ll need help to pull it off—but there’s no way to know who he can trust.

When Iseul's and Daehyun's fates collide, their contempt for each other is transcended only by their mutual hate for the king. Armed with Iseul’s family connections and Daehyun’s royal access, they reluctantly join forces to launch the riskiest gamble the kingdom has ever

Save her sister. Free the people. Destroy a tyrant.

 


Before I get to June’s interview post, I have my IWSG post.

Posting: The first Wednesday is officially Insecure Writer's Support Group Day.

Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!

The awesome co-hosts this month are:  Liza at Middle Passages, Shannon Lawrence, Melissa Maygrove, and Olga Godim!

Optional Question: In this constantly evolving industry, what kind of offering/service do you think the IWSG should consider offering to members?

I think the IWSG is doing a good job helping members. The group offers help to writers and authors whatever their publishing path is. The X pitch contest is really helpful for writers trying to get an agent.

One wish I have is that we could encourage more of our members to blog regularly, at least on the first Wednesday of the month, and follow the guidelines to visit bloggers who read their posts and comment. And to do so when they post during the month, and others stop by to support them. I comment on way more people’s posts than I receive comments from. It’s time-consuming and discouraging.

Another helpful resource would be to provide new marketing ideas for authors, such as good blog tour companies, to help them market their books to new audiences. I think that's a struggle for many traditional, indie, and self-published authors. Maybe one of our monthly questions could be to suggest ideas and then add them to the mareting page on the IWSG website. 

I’d also like our group to grow. It’s shrunk a lot over the years. If we could get members to see that blogging only one day a month, which is all many members blog, is not that much of a burden for the benefit of being part of a supportive group of writers and making much deeper friendships than we can on other social media sites.

Interview With June Hur

Hi June! Thanks so much for joining us.

1. Where did you get the idea for A Crane Among Wolves and what is the true story it’s based on?

While researching for my previous book, I came across an article about King Yeonsan, a real Korean tyrant who kidnapped over 1,000 women with a dream of “owning” 10,000 by the end of his reign. This king also banned literacy in an attempt to censor people from writing slanders about him. I was horrified by the atrocities King Yeonsan committed, and also curious to learn about what happened to those 1,000 captured women. This interest is what initially sparked the idea for my books.

2. What research did you do in creating your story both in terms of the true story A Crane Among Wolves is based on and Korea in the 1500s?

I research extensively, relying on scholarly sources that I manage to find through Jstor or through googlebooks. I also rely on Korean sources, lectures, alongside the Daily Records of Yeonsangun, a primary source about the king’s reign.

3. Yes, it sounds like you did intensive research for your story. Share a bit about Iseul and Prince Daehyun as characters. Do you have a favorite?

Iseul may initially appear unlikeable due to her selfish and spoiled nature, but as the story unfolds, she undergoes a transformation, showing a newfound maturity and genuine care for others. As for Prince Daehyun, the half-brother of the tyrant king, he wrestles with the trauma of living in the tyrant’s shadow by shutting away his emotions. But his encounter with Iseul sparks a journey of self-discovery and purpose. My favorite character is definitely Prince Daehyun!

Your Writing Process and How You Are Able to Write a Book a Year

4. Are you a plotter, pantser, or a combination of them? How has your writing process changed since you wrote your debut book The Silence of Bones was released?

I used to be an intense plotter. I’d have every chapter broken down into outlines before I even began writing. But now I’m a combination. Now I use a beat sheet to write out a loose outline, to have some kind of goal post to guide me as I pants-write.

 5. I’m a combination writer, too. It’s good to know that this works for writing manuscripts fairly fast. What’s your writing schedule like? Has it changed over the years?

It has most definitely changed! I used to have whole days to write, but these days I usually only have two hours. I write every day after I put my kids to sleep, and that’s when I get most of my work done. I sometimes write when my son naps (and my daughter is in school), but not always.

6. It’s reassuring to know that you can be so productive in two hours every day. Since the Silence of Bones was released, you’ve had three books published: Forest of Stolen Girls in 2021, The Red Palace in 2022, and A Crane Among Wolves this year. And you have another book, Adoration, scheduled to be released in 2026. How long did it take you to write these manuscripts and what are your tips on finishing manuscripts at a faster pace like you have once your debut book was released?

For THE FOREST OF STOLEN GIRLS and THE RED PALACE, I was under a one year contract, meaning I’d only have around six months to draft, followed by multiple rounds of revisions. I’ve found that to write fast, I need to get my first draft written quickly, as that becomes a foundation to build on. One method I rely on is to use an aesthetically unappealing font, like comic sans, as the font constantly reminds me that the purpose of a first draft is to just have fun, it doesn’t need to be perfect. I also rely heavily on beat sheets, as following a clear story structure early on saves me the time I might have spent rewriting.

I’ve found, though, that my creativity burnt out really fast from writing a book a year. So I slowed down to one book every two years with CRANE and ADORATION.

Your Journey to Publication

7. Your second book was part of a two-book contract with your debut book. What has been the process for getting your next three books published?

For THE RED PALACE and A CRANE AMONG WOLVES, my agent sold the book in a one-book contract to my editor at Feiwel and Friends based on a proposal (basically a synopsis + the first few pages). But because I’ve established a really amazing working relationship with my editor, and want to continue working with her, my agent and I recently proposed a two-book deal, which turned into a six-figure book contract. So my fifth book, ADORATION, is actually part of that two-book deal.

8. Congrats on your publishing success. What advice do you have for other authors about continuing to get publishing contracts after their initial contract?


My tip is pretty straightforward: Be kind and respectful to your editor and your publishing team. Try to meet the deadlines. At the same time, I think it’s also important to note that if your publishing team isn’t supportive of your book or career, it’s never a bad idea to shop the book around to find a new home. 

Promoting Your Book

8. How are you planning to promote A Crane Among Wolves? How have your marketing plans for your books changed since your debut book was released?

Initially, I focused on promoting my debut book through Twitter, but I rarely touch twitter these days. Instead, I've shifted my marketing efforts to Instagram reels, and it's been a great way to engage with both existing and new readers. Interestingly enough, I haven't had the same level of success on TikTok despite sharing identical content on both platforms. It's been quite a contrast, with some of my TikTok videos barely reaching 1k views, while on reels, they've gone viral, hitting over 1 million views.

9. You have 55.4K followers on Instagram. How did you reach so many followers? What’s your advice to other writers and authors who want to increase their followers on Instagram?

My key advice is to diversify your content beyond just promoting your book. I've noticed that my reels focused solely on book promotion tend to receive the lowest engagement. Instead, the majority of my followers are drawn to the Korean history content I share. So while it's important to promote your book, I think it’s also important to find a niche related to your book but distinct from it. By catering to a broader audience interested in this general topic, you not only expand your follower base but also increase the likelihood that they'll develop an interest in your book over time.

10. That’s great advice. What are you working on now?

The next book I'm working on is a YA historical romance titled "Adoration," which is slated for a 2026 release. This Jane Austen homage set during the joseon dynasty follows a young woman transcribing forbidden books and an aloof, wealthy young man hiding his own literary secret, who must wrestle with questions of class, respectability, and carving out one's own destiny when a literary censor at the Ministry of Justice uncovers her secret and their connection. After this book, however, I'm hoping to write another dark historical/thriller again.

Thanks for sharing all your advice, June. You can find June at @junehwrites on tiktok and Instagram

Giveaway Details

June’s publisher is generously offering a hardback of A Crane Among Wolves for a giveaway. To enter, all you need to do is be a follower of my blog (via the follower gadget, email, or bloglovin’ on the right sidebar) and leave a comment by June 15th. If your email is not on your Google Profile, you must leave it in the comments to enter the contest. Please be sure I have your email address.

If you mention this contest on Twitter, Facebook, or your blog and/or follow me on Twitter or follow June on her social media sites, mention this in the comments and I'll give you an extra entry for each. You must be 13 years old or older to enter. This book giveaway is U.S.

Upcoming Interviews, Guest Posts, and Blog Hops

Monday, June 10th I have an agent spotlight interview with Jenna Satterthwaite and a query critique giveaway

Sunday, June 16th I’m participating in the Dad-o-mite Giveaway Hop

Monday, June 17th I have an interview with debut author Leah Stecher and a giveaway of her MG magical realism The Things We Miss

Monday, June 22nd I have a guest post by author M.R. Fournet and a giveaway of her MG fantasy Darkness & Demon Song

Wednesday, June 24th I have an agent spotlight interview with Bethany Weaver and query critique giveaway 

Monday, July 1st I’m participating in the Sparkle Time Giveaway Hop

Wednesday, July 3rd I have an interview with debut author Amber Chen and a giveaway of her YA mystery fantasy Of Jade and Dragons and my IWSG post

Monday, July 8th I have an agent spotlight interview with Rebecca Williamson and a query critique giveaway

I hope to see you on Monday!

42 comments:

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Great advice for building up engagement on Instagram! And congratulations on finding a writing process that works so well. Writing with young kids is always a challenge!

Loni Townsend said...

Growth would be really nice with the IWSG. I think part of the problem is the ever-changing way we connect with people. It seems there's a new app every day and the old ones phase out so quickly.

Grats to June!

Jennifer Lane said...

I appreciate your constant support, Natalie! You do a wonderful job of visiting lots of blogs.

Good idea about marketing ideas like effective blog tour companies.

Congratulations to June. Interesting idea about using an unappealing font for the first draft!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's a lot of Instagram followers.
I give more comments than I receive as well.

Anonymous said...

Anonymously Esther O'Neill, East of the sun, not on gmail because , like most normal people, Google can't believe we still have no signal and can't pick up security texts.
Really appreciate your insights, and encouragement for other members.

On productivity, Trollope's three nhours a day and a day job soring out the UK post office is supposed to encourage the rest of us. Trollope, though, paid someone to start his day with coffee. Worth a try ? Instead of starting other people's days for them ?

ID fraud was more than ten years ago, but I quit any social media,

Melissa said...

Sounds like a fantastic book!

I agree with you, Natalie, about IWSG. Work got in the way for me and kept me from visiting more blogs. But partly because not everyone launches their posts early enough. I usually blog in the mornings and would often find blogs with no post for that month. Pre-schedule, people! LOL Other hindrances are pages that are slow to load and sites that don't link to the blog page itself. I despise having to click more than twice (the blog page and then the post itself).

Thanks for visiting my blog.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

It was a lot bigger once. But there is value in sharing even if only once a month.

C.D. Gallant-King said...

I admit I'm not the best at visiting and commenting on as many blogs as I would like. I do try to do a flurry around IWSG day, but the rest of the month is pretty slow (I usually only blog myself once a month for IWSG).

Finding and sharing more groups that organize blog tours is a great idea - any way to get your stuff out there in the constantly-shifting social media world is helpful.

Jacqui said...

I love your suggestions, Natalie. The first three sites I clicked through to--from the IWSG list--had nothing for today! What a loss for them. That's not meant as a complaint, more a sadness for their missed opportunity. Your guest's book looks wonderful.

cleemckenzie said...

I love your ideas for IWSG. Thanks so much for them.

June Hur has the right idea about promotion. It's so much more interesting to read about background and not just "buy my book."


https://cleemckenziebooks.substack.com/p/welcoming-june

Nancy Gideon said...

Loved your post, as always! Encouraging as well as informative. When I started out, I was a dynamo at self-promotion and it showed in my numbers. I did varied blog hops when they were popular (I miss them!) and never found anything else to successfully replace them. Time to dip toes back into the water . . .

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I'm from the old school too, manners are everything. It's like smiling at strangers. Happy IWSG Wednesday, Natalie.

ET Charles said...

Congratulations. It sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for sharing your process and journey.

Kate Larkindale said...

Love y0or ideas for the IWSG! It's amazing how productive you can be in a shot time if you just put the work in. Two hours a day sounds so manageable!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Oh, this book sounds terrific.
sgourleyauthor@gmail.com

I love meeting another writer who does her writing after the kids are in bed. I did that for years and now my kids are grown and I still do most of my writing between 9-11 PM.

Pat Garcia said...

Hi Natalie,
I agree with your opinion about commenting. I personally comment on more blogs than comments I receive, but I sometimes think that people have to get used to commenting. Thank you for commenting on my blog.
Have a lovely day.
Shalom shalom

Liz A. said...

What a fascinating set up for a book. I don't know much about Korean history. I'm sure it is filled with all sorts of great material for many novels to come.

Rebecca M. Douglass said...

I try to visit everyone who comments on my blog, and on IWSG day I do a round of visits to some of my regular people and try to drop in on some new folks as well each time. But I'm not very good about checking them out between times. I pretty much only remember to do that for the people whose posts are announced in an email. I agree that commenting and visiting are what builds our community, and will try to do better :)

H. R. Sinclair said...

Congrats to June! Awesome interview. -- And I love her covers!

I had no ideas for the IWSG question this month.

Jean Davis said...

The group does seem to have shrunk since I joined years ago. While most of us should probably should be blogging at the frequency you do, once a month isn't much to ask. Even I can manage once a month. LOL.

Marketing help and resources are a great idea. That's something any published author or soon-to-be-published author could use assistance with.

Tyrean Martinson said...

Natalie, I love your ideas and agree. I think we need all the help we can get, but we also need to support one another more with comments. (I'm guilty of being a bit of an absentee these last few months, but I'm working at getting better."

emaginette said...

I think the numbers are dipping across the board. Offering things the group wants and riding it out seems the way to go imo.

Anna from elements of emaginette

Olga Godim said...

@Natalie: I like your idea of a list of marketing possibilities, but the amount of work to compile such a list would be staggering. And it would be constantly changing - more work for the person maintaining such a list. Not sure if it is feasible.
Also, I'd like to note: I was looking for your blog on the IWSG sign-up list and couldn't find it. What is your number there?

Fundy Blue said...

Happy IWSG Day, Natalie! I enjoyed your interview with June, and her books sounds awesome! I too would like to see our group grow in numbers. I've been making a real effort to visit as many members as I can each month. Like you, I visit more than I hear back from. But I'll keep plodding along. It's one thing I know I can do for the IWSG. Have a great month and put me in the drawing please. I'll be together enough for the rest of the month to check my email ~ lol! Hugs to you!

Samantha Bryant said...

Engagement is key in so many things…and it can be hard to balance the give and take of that. @samanthabwriter from
Balancing Act

Señorida Anastasia said...

The interview is really helpful and informative. You're right. People should leave comments. Even I would read posts but wouldn't leave comments at times. Just new to leaving comments I guess. I'll try to do better:)

Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

I love the idea of IWSG sharing new marketing ideas for authors. That's an ever changing topic.

Love the premise of A Crane Among Wolves.

Danielle H. said...

I love learning more about other cultures through fun reading time. This book sounds like an exciting read with excellent characters. It's been on my wish list and Goodreads since I first heard about it. I follow the author on Instagram, Natalie on Twitter, and shared this post on Facebook, Twitter, and tumblr.

Chris_Shestak_Author said...

Thanks for all the good suggestions about using Instagram - I'm actively refusing to engage with "X" ;-) Both of June's books are on my TBR list - they have a LONG waiting list on the HOLD list at my library.

J.Q. Rose said...

Yes, nodding my head in agreement with your points. I do appreciate you stopping by every month and leaving a comment. I have a love/hate battle with Instagram. I'm inspired to get going with that again. Marketing is a constant battle, but even well-known brands still market like Coca-Cola and McDonald's. Sigh...As far as blogging--I love blogging. It feels like my comfy home.

Sandra Cox said...

Many congrats to June.

We are always on the lookout for new ways to market, aren't we?

Have a creative week.

Sonia Dogra said...

Instagram is a great tool for promotion, if used well. This interview is a lot of inspiration. June inspires with her dedication and discipline.

Victoria Marie Lees said...

You are right, Natalie. I also comment on more IWSG posts than I receive comments from. And it is time-consuming and discouraging. I would love to have posts regarding marketing available for monthly questions. I learn so much from you guys.

June's interview is informative. What an amazing writer. Your research is scary as well as riveting. All the luck with this new release, June.

Lynn La Vita said...

Hi Natalie,
I agree, I comment on way more people’s posts than I receive comments from. It’s time-consuming and discouraging.

I wonder if folks keep a list of those that comment on their blogs? If so, how do they maintain the list?

I think on of the keys is maintaining a link back to visitor's blog.

Thanks for visiting my website.
Lynn
https://la-vita.us/insecure-writers-support-group/

Donna K. Weaver said...

A lot of things related to blogging have shrunk. It's too bad too.

Natalie Aguirre said...

Olga, I'm now #49 on the IWSG list.

Katherine said...

Great interview and the book sounds wonderful! Thanks for the chance to enter. khpinelake (at) gmail (dot) com

Beth Camp said...

Natalie, I'm always amazed by your energy, thoughtfulness, and caring for other writers that comes through so clearly on your blog. Please don't be discouraged. You bring light to so many . . . and that interview with June Hur not only introduces a fascinating read but clarifies how much connecting with our readers is changing. Thank you.

Carol Baldwin said...

I'm probably too late for this giveaway, although the book sounds terrific. Thanks for the tip about Ig reels. I'll keep that in mind.

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

Love the covers! And the tip about reels is something I should utilize.

Ronel visiting for IWSG day Cantering Dark Horses

Leela said...

I'm an email subscriber.

Michelle Wallace said...

Hi Natalie!

There is always a bunch of awesome stuff here at your place!
Lovely book covers and other information.

Thank you for your unfailing commitment to the writing world.
Much appreciated.