Welcome to my feature, Writing & Publishing Tips. You’ll be seeing this feature between twice to four times a month. Here, writers and readers alike can learn firsthand knowledge about writing and publishing from various authors (and occasionally me). I hope you enjoy, and never hesitate to ask questions.
Pease welcome Connie Smith. She is here to talk about what she has learned since being an author. She lists some dos and don’ts that really could be helpful to all writers out there. Have fun and don’t hesitate to ask questions in the comments.
Things I’ve Learned
by Connie Smith
I realize that I’m incredibly new to this whole author business, but I really feel like I’m learning as I’m going here. Already, it seems I’ve learned so much about what to do and what not to do. For any author (particularly a self-published one) reading this, I’m giving you a list of some of the dos and don’ts I’ve found thus far.
I don’t mean your own personal blog. Granted there are opportunities on a blog – like posting samples of writing – that could potentially work in your favor. I’m talking about other people’s blogs. One of the best things you can do for yourself is to be reviewed/spotlighted/a guest on someone else’s site. It connects you to a plethora of other people who may never have known about your novel.
Sounds great, right? Well, the complication arises in finding those other blogs. Not all of us have a host of author/book reviewer friends, so we have to find them the hard way. Look.
Eventually I was directed to a link that has sooo many book review sites listed. Needless to say, I was happy. Then eventually that linked to a directory, and that directory led to sites linking to other blogs, then that link to more links…
What I’ve learned is that you have to know when to cut yourself off. That might sound terrible, but it’s the truth. I wouldn’t be shocked if, in the end, I’ve gone through a thousand different book review sites, and still I seem to be able to find more. Of course more publicity is a good thing, but you can’t narrow your focus completely. If I keep having this link take me to 234930284 other sites, then that’s monopolizing my time. I’m looking away from the blogs I’ve already committed to, and it can actually eat away at writing time.
So, to me, learning when to say ‘that’s enough’ has been a big lesson.
Also, keep in mind, that just because you pester a couple hundred websites does NOT mean that all of those blogs are gonna be willing to have you. In fact, at the present, I’ve gotten maybe ten or fifteen positive responses out of the whole batch of requests I’ve sent. These people have tons of other authors (most likely) asking them the same things. Try not to take it too personally.
You should also be mindful of the genre, and restrictions the blog might put on their reviews. If this one doesn’t accept a particular genre, an ebook, or self-published works, and it disqualifies your book, don’t worry about it. There are other sites out there that fit your criteria.
Especially if you’re self-publishing, it pays to think about ways to market yourself even beyond your Twitter page, or a book review spot. I’ve been lucky enough to have a friend or two that can help in this area, but the facts remain. No one other than your handful of family and friends even knows the book is out there, and if you want to change that, you’ll have to work for it, maybe think outside of the box for a bit.
Follow other authors on Twitter. (NOTE: I did not say continually harass other authors with your book on Twitter.) Sometimes authors might post good advice or a link that you might find useful.
Another thing about Twitter – Don’t just post links about your book saying, “Buy it!” Of course you can have those posts, but if that’s all you ever do post… I’ve unfollowed before just because I got tired of seeing it. Granted, I’m no expert about getting my book to the masses just yet, but I do have a BA in Communication. If no one cares about you, then they won’t care about what you’re saying. For the most part, connecting with your audience and building that report with them can make a world of difference. If the only thing I know about you is that you have a book – and I’ve never even read one of your other books, if you have any – I really don’t care. That’s just being honest. If we’ve talked a bit here and there, and I’ve gotten to know you a little better, I might find myself caring a bit more. I might even get excited about the book, and *gasp* retweet.
Consider what your free preview on Amazon will look like. Since most of the beginning of Essenced is build-up, I eventually added its prologue back into its content. This will give the readers a better idea of what the book is about, and will give them something to judge the book on rather than the very beginnings of a plot.
Think about writing challenges, or even consider being published. As of right now, I want Essenced to remain self-published for a number of reasons. That doesn’t mean that I can’t write other things – novellas, short stories, etc. – and try to get them published. If I luck up and that works out, that will increase my exposure and possibly get people to notice my beloved trilogy I don’t want a publishing company dealing with.
My best friend and fellow author, Catherine Peace, once told me something along of the lines of having to write what you don’t want to write to be able to write what you do want to write. I’m not telling you, at all, to not have standards. There are things I just will not write. I love a good romance book, but I’m not writing anything explicit. I have an eight-year-old niece who loves to read, and I don’t want to write something that she wouldn’t be able to read. That’s one of my standards, and I won’t compromise that.
That doesn’t mean that I have to limit myself to my preferred genre either. The Division Chronicles are YA/UF. I love that. But I’m finding that stepping out of my desired area of writing can be beneficial. For instance, in the whole ‘get this published so people will notice my other stuff’ fiasco, writing a sweet romance seems to be potentially profitable. As I said, I love reading a good romance story, but writing one? It’s not that thrilling for me. In fact, I finished a rough draft of one this week for the sake of a romance blog spot and to attempt to get published. It’s a sweet story. The main characters are adorable.
And it was a major chore to get through. I like fantasy, and all the wonders that go with it. I don’t have much of a problem writing romance within the overall structure of another type of story. Essenced has romance. But to push all of those other elements away and just write romance was a real struggle for me. I like those other elements. Still, it was for further exposure through a blog, and I have sincere hopes of getting it published. It could help in the long run.
I have plans of attempting more romantic novellas in the future, and hope good things will happen with them. That doesn’t mean I’m thrilled with the prospect of writing the non-werewolf/vampire/fairy/dragon details!
WRITE. Lots. Don’t bother telling me you don’t have time to write. I completely understand that other things are more important than writing, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find time in your schedule to write. Even if it’s just an hour a day. The more you write, the more you can offer a reader/publisher. Besides. Leaving a reader hanging for years between sequential books is just tacky. Yeah, that’s right. I’m thinking of you, George R. R. Martin.
Author BioConnie L. Smith spends far too much time with her mind wandering in fictional places. She reads too much, likes to bake, and will be forever sad that she doesn’t have fairy wings. And that she can’t swing dance. When she isn’t reading or writing, there’s a good chance she’s goofing off with her amazing, wonderful, incredible, fabulous nieces and nephew, or listening to music that is severely outdated. She has her BA from Northern Kentucky University in Speech Communication and History (she doesn’t totally get the connection either) and likes to snap photos. Oh, and she likes apples a whole big bunch.
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