Episode 21: On the Rise of Equestrian Fiction & Embracing the Gig Economy w/ Natalie Keller Reinert (Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast)
Episode 21: Welcome to the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast! In each episode, you’ll hear inspirational stories from horse book authors including writing advice and marketing tips to help you write your own horse book. If you are an author, aspire to be an author, or simply love horse books then you are in the right place!
In this week's episode, you'll meet Equestrian Fiction Author Natalie Keller Reinert. You'll learn ...
Watch Natalie Keller Reinert's Interview on YouTube!
Or listen to the audio only version.
About Author Natalie Keller Reinert
Natalie has been riding and working with horses since the age of ten, and has worked in upper-level eventing, dressage, racing, and mounted patrol. She started publishing in 2011 following the launch of a very successful blog, Retired Racehorse.
Since then, she has written and published more than a dozen novels written about the equestrian experience. She has been a semi-finalist twice for the Dr. Tony Ryan Book Award, a literary award for horse racing literature, and was a top finalist with her novel about racehorse retirement, Turning For Home. Natalie’s latest book is The Hidden Horses of New York, which is set in the racing and urban equine communities of New York City.
Natalie Keller Reinert Interview Excerpt
Carly: Why horse books? What excites to you about horse books?
Natalie: I always knew I wanted to be an author. I've found things I wrote when I was in elementary school. It was always kind of a foregone conclusion. I was writing a blog in 2008 or so. People might remember. It's called Retired Racehorse and it had massive following for a while. It was around that time that I started writing more fiction and actually trying to finish things instead of just starting stories rather than abandon them along the way, which I've done for years and years.
I started writing this novel I continued with it after I'd left Florida and gone to New York and I finished it while I was in living in New York. It was very much a horse story. It wasn't a horse story that I could hand to anybody who'd never been around a horse, so I had a decision to make. I could either start doing rewrites, start getting people to look at it, edit the heck out of it, and turn it into something that anybody could read or I could take this really raw piece of work and just see. I went with the second decision. I published The Head and Not the Heart in 2011. It's a really raw emotional piece of work that I wrote specifically to see if other horse people had ever had these feelings.
It took longer than a traditionally published book would have taken to take off, but then it did. People started talking about it, reading it and asking me about it. I realized people want to read equestrian fiction and nobody's writing it for them. It was really the decision of I'm gonna write what I want to read.
Carly: You have published a lot of horse books including standalone books and four different series. I'd love to hear more about your newest release. Tell us about The Hidden Horses of New York.
Natalie: The Hidden of Horses of New York was a bit of a dream book for me. I wanted to write sort of a crossover novel. I love stories about New York. I love stories about young women finding themselves. I feel like that particular genre of young woman finding herself in New York does not get old for me. I did it myself and I was really inspired by a lot of the young people I see working in equestrian media.
It's about a young woman who wants to be a journalist. She's very idealistic. She's coming from a horse farm to New York to be a turf writer. She's got her family of friends, that one boy she's always been in love with, and all of that against, not just New York as we're used to seeing it, but by the carriage horses of New York, the urban cowboys, the patrol horses in Central Park, and then even a trip to Saratoga.
Carly: What are your thoughts having been one of the first people to really step into the equestrian fiction realm and put the words around this particular genre? Do you think it is a genre that's changing over time?
Natalie: As a genre, I think equestrian fiction has become so diverse. First off, if you glance through some of the bestseller lists on Amazon, you see horse books that are by different discipline for sure, but you also see different genres within the genre. You could have an equestrian book store and you would still be able to fill shelves with different departments.
Carly: I think we could define equestrian fiction as it's equestrians writing fiction that gets the horse facts right. Is that what you would say?
Natalie: Absolutely! Hardly anybody's bothered to do it before. For adults specifically, you can list off three or four really great books over the years.
Jilly Cooper did it with Riders. She wasn't afraid of anything when she wrote that book which is fantastic. We know Jane Smiley did it with Horse Heaven. That book is a blueprint and anybody who is ever considering writing a horse book should read Horse Heaven, maybe six or seven times, maybe eight for good luck. That book will forever be my number one, Holy Grail book and then Sarah Gruen did a couple of nice equestrian novels before she hit it big with Water for Elephants.
Carly: There is a teen and young adult equestrian fiction ebook category on Amazon, but we still haven't gotten to the place where we have the broad spot that we could all slot our book. We have to try and figure out how to get into that category. Will you talk a little bit about this from your perspective being one of the first people doing this as an independent author?
Natalie: When I started, I figured out really quickly that the only place anybody was going to see the book was in the horse racing category, At the time on Amazon, it was books about wagering, Dick Francis and Bev Pettersen, who has been around forever writing romances and sort of murder/romances. So I credit her for figuring it out first. She cracked the system first and I followed her lead. (Natalie goes into more detail on how she uses keywords in her interview.)
Whenever I see a beautifully presented horse book or equestrian novel, it is a great feeling because that shows that we're growing as a genre and eventually somebody's going to take us seriously. We're going to get a section because we deserve our own bookshelf. My theory is that as creatives we are now reaching the point where we can put horses in everything, the horse girls shall inherit the earth, and we will have our own section on Amazon.
It is all positive for me. The only thing I ask is that people just ask for advice on their covers. on their editing, etc. and don't cut any corners because we definitely want to present ourselves as these really professional polished authors.
Carly: You wrote a really cool blog post called "Don't Hate the Side Hustle." Will you share your thoughts on the gig economy and and how you're making it work for you to create extra channels of revenue in addition to being an author and making money from your books?
Natalie: I think obviously feelings about the gig economy are very complicated and they should be very complicated, but all in all I have made it work for me. I prefer the flexibility of picking up work or putting out something new or coming up with a new business concept much more than the idea of I owe you 40 to 50 to 60 hours of my time, I will be at my desk, and I will be back from lunch at 1 o'clock precisely.
When I turned back to freelancing, it was just so pleasant to know I can determine how I'm going to spend my day. When you are a freelancer, whether you're driving an Uber or you're grocery shopping for somebody or you're feeding someone's rabbit, you are freeing up the time that you want to work on your own things. I really believe everybody has something in them that somebody else will pay them for.
Carly: How have you been using Patreon to grow your audience and help fund your author work?
Natalie: My concept there was I might release two books a year and so you get a big income bump for the first two months or so afterwards and then you watch it go down, so your income throughout the year if you're solely relying on novel releases is two massive slopes up and down. I usually work
my way through those deep canyons by freelancing more. I decided to try to replace that by asking readers if they could throw a couple bucks at me every month on Patreon so that I could get the next book to them sooner.
I believe in supporting art. I have a favorite band and they have an expensive fan club membership, but I cheerfully pay them for it every year because I know they are hustling just as hard as I'm hustling. They're trying to get their records out just as hard as I'm working at my books.
My Patreon has been so good for me creatively. I have so much appreciation for the comments that are left for me and the conversations that we have about the chapters that I post. I post all my work in progress to Patreon, then I take feedback, I go off and I rewrite. It's worked out beautifully.
Connect with Natalie Keller Reinert
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Thank you for tuning in to the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast. I'm your host Carly Kade. Creative writing makes my spurs jingle!
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About Your Host & Author Carly Kade
Carly Kade is an award-winning equestrian author and the host of the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle! She writes fiction about horses, horse shows, Western pleasure and a handsome cowboy or two. Her books are for people just like her — crazy about reading, horses and cute cowboys!
In the Reins, the first in Carly's series of novels inspired by the equestrian lifestyle, has been an Amazon best seller for more than 10 weeks, is an EQUUS Film Festival Literary Award Winner for Best Western Fiction and has earned two Feathered Quill Book Awards in the Romance and Adult Book featuring Animals categories. The In the Reins equestrian romance series is available now in Audiobook, Paperback and eBook on Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks and Kobo.
Books by Carly Kade
Carly Kade writes for anyone who loves horses, handsome cowboys and a great romance. Creative writing about horses makes her spurs jingle!