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Interviews

Navigating the Creative Journey: An Insightful Interview with Lee, Founder of Kee Note Publishing

In this insightful interview, we delve into the creative journey and entrepreneurial spirit of Kee, the founder of Kee Note Publishing. Kee shares her personal experiences and challenges in self-publishing novels and ghostwriting for others, offering valuable advice to aspiring authors considering a similar path. She discusses the delicate balance between authenticity and storytelling in her urban fiction works, highlighting the importance of creativity and empathy in crafting impactful narratives. Kee’s expertise as a copywriter and brand strategist also shines through as she shares how these roles intersect with her work in publishing, ultimately aiming to create a safe and inspiring space for readers and writers alike.

Can you share a bit about your personal journey that led you to start Kee Note Publishing?

In general, I decided to start my own brand because ownership was important to me. I had done a lot of research on whether I wanted to go the traditional or self-publishing route when I released my first book. From what I gathered, going traditional meant that I ran the risk of losing some of my creative control and that was a very important thing to me. My first book was very personal and specific, and I didn’t want to tarnish any of the symbolism or creativity that I had poured into the roll-out, the manuscript itself, the cover, the release date – any of it. Of course, none of that is to say that I won’t consider or even submit for a traditional deal in the future, but there was a lot of intentionality in my decision to start. 

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in self-publishing your novels and ghostwriting for others?

There was a lot to learn. A LOT. And I probably still don’t know everything I need to know. But having to learn all the things while writing and life’ing was a challenge. It’s like every time I learned something new, I’d go down a deep rabbit hole and have to decide if whatever I had learned was something I needed to implement in my process or if I could hold off or find a middle ground. I think another huge challenge for me was self-doubt. I don’t have any degrees that support my claim to being a writer or creative. I don’t have any formal higher education at all that supports my claim to that. I was literally just born with the gift of writing. So there were a lot of moments…(and if I’m honest – even today, sometimes they still creep in) where I second-guess myself and overcoming that feeling, or those feelings, while I’m in the middle of doing the things has always been an extra level of self-inflicted pressure that isn’t necessary but also very present. 

How did you overcome those challenges, and what lessons did you learn along the way?

It sounds cliche I think, but I just do it. I allow myself to feel the feels, think the thoughts, and comb through it all but I keep writing. I’ve learned that you can’t become a better writer if you don’t write – so I write. Being that I struggled with the idea of not having a formal education when I started writing professionally, I’ve invested a lot into my craft.  I mean hours and hours (and hours) of research, learning, and trial and error. And thousands (and thousands) of dollars on mentorship, courses, and memberships to help me feel like I had something to support my claim as a writer. And honestly, that was just a “me” thing. I am my own proof that it was no barrier to entry, but it was something that I needed to do in order to silence my own self-talk.

As someone who has authored urban fiction novels based on personal experiences, how do you navigate the balance between authenticity and storytelling?

I love this question because I’m so deeply rooted in authenticity, and I have such a deep understanding of how powerful (and profitable) storytelling is. I think the balance is simple: creativity. I think that you are allowed to share + be inspired by authentic elements of life while fostering a space that allows other people to walk into a world of relatable fiction. 

When I was a kid, I struggled with being “the dark-skinned girl” – it was always the top of every conversation and the root of every compliment and I hated that so much. It made me feel like I didn’t belong anywhere – and in that space, no one understood how or why I felt that way. Plus, I was young, so I don’t even know that I understood how or why. 

And then I read a book called, “The Skin I’m In” by Sharon G. Flake. I don’t remember relating to much of anything in the book beyond the fact that I was a young dark complected girl who felt like the black sheep, just like the main character. It was the first time I can recall feeling understood. So, that’s what I aspire to create in my writing. A space where you feel seen, heard, understood, validated, or just like you’re not on some delusional journey on your own. There’s an element of storytelling within your authenticity the same way there is an element of authenticity in how you tell your story – the balance there is the creativity. 

What advice would you give to aspiring authors who are considering self-publishing their work?

It’s worth it. I actually think every author should self-publish at least one work of art just to experience the full scope of ownership, creativity, entrepreneurship, and creative execution. 

How do you approach ghostwriting for others while maintaining their unique voice and vision?

Funny enough, I think this goes back to authentic storytelling. For me, it’s about really understanding the author’s story, why they want to share it, what message they want their readers to receive, what feeling they want their readers to feel, and what part of themself they want their readers to connect to. After that, it’s about creating that world on the author’s behalf. I think of it like this – when I was younger, I was the friend that wrote all of the break-up or argument texts for my girls when they were beefing with their little boo. All they had to do was copy-paste haha.

Could you share a particularly memorable experience or success story from your journey as a writer and publisher?

It’s all memorable. That’s the beauty in writing a book isn’t it? The memories are imprinted forever. For me, the highest form of creativity is execution. As a creative, as a writer, the fact that I am brave enough to put all of my crazy ideas out into the world for other people to see – and they actually like it – is success. And it will always, always be such a memorable journey for me.

In addition to writing, you mentioned being a copywriter and brand strategist. How do these roles intersect with your work in publishing, and how do they complement each other?

Ha. Back to authentic storytelling again. As a copywriter, I primarily work with coaches, consultants, and service providers who would like to transition into that space. The reason for that is because those people tend to establish their authority, build their visibility, and create trust by sharing their stories. Of course, their expertise matters but as consumers, we purchase based of emotion before we do logic. So if you like the person, or the brand, you’re ready to buy whatever they sell. So, my job as a copywriter and brand strategist is to help position offer + leverage your story and sell the solution you have. My motto is this: words are powerful – I know how to make them profitable. 

What strategies do you employ to stay creative and inspired, especially when faced with writer’s block or creative challenges?

I think the beach is where my magic is, so when I feel stagnant – I go to the beach. When I feel uninspired, I go to the beach. I’m lucky enough to be surrounded by creatives as well, so if I need to bounce ideas, flesh out some thoughts, or whatever the case may be, I’ll hop on Facetime. And sometimes, I just need to unplug. Do things completely unrelated to creativity or writing and just…be. If I’m too deep in my head, it means I’m overthinking it, and maybe I just need to get away from it for a moment. 

Finally, what are your future goals and aspirations for Kee Note Publishing, and how do you plan to continue making an impact in the literary world?

My goal for Kee Note Publishing and my plan to continue to make an impact in the literary world are one in the same, I think. I want to continue to create a safe, judge-free space for people to feel. I don’t care what the feelings are, I just want you to feel them. And in order to do that, I just need to keep creating. You’ll feel it one way or another. Lucky for me, my daughter is a creative, too. So when she’s ready, Kee Note Publishing will be ours – to be free, to create, to connect, to share stories with the world, and to feel. 

https://keenotepub.com

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by Harness Editor

Harness believes that freedom of expression equals female empowerment. The truth? We’re a badass authentic community of fierce women, and we exist to help your voice be heard. Harness is here to be your safe haven. A place to shed the competition, the insecurities. This is a place to rise by lifting others. This is who we are.


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