For me, marketing began before I finished my first book. Confident, I’d finish my book, I declared myself an author and started my blog, http://www.writingstraight.com/ to connect with other bloggers and hopefully potential readers. I also wanted to connect writers to readers as well as share about my life, my family, and my faith. Blogging about my visits to India also drew in readers who cared about India, which was good because half of my novel, Crooked Lines, takes place in India.
I also made it a point to visit other blogs and make friends. You can’t be like a person shouting through a megaphone from your doorstep. You have to get out and engage with others, visit other sites, and leave comments. Make real friends who care about you and your writing. You do that by caring about them. Same concept goes for Facebook and other social media. You have to kiss a few babies, or at least comment on that cute grandchild or precious newborn. Who can resist a cute baby, anyway? If someone shares troubles, I empathize with them and offer my prayers. Five hundred friends on Facebook that you don’t know aren’t as important as 50 friends you really know.
But, you can’t let social media suck up all of your time or you’ll never have time to write. I use my iPhone quite a bit when I’m stuck in the car (riding, not driving) or waiting at appointments. I scan blogs I follow, run through Facebook and twitter posts or check out who’s posting what on Pinterest. I connect when I can, but don’t usually spend time viewing every video about amazing dogs and cats.
Once my book was published—just this past July—I entered into an entirely new realm. How do you sell books without being like the annoying uncle selling AMWAY products? It’s a tough line to draw. Do you shout out about your book all day long on social media? I don’t think that’s effective. I personally asked friends to read and review my book and share their review on social media. I also offer to do blog interviews. (But this is give and take. You should also feature others on your blog and review their books, too.) Those who love you, especially if you’ve helped them out in the past, are usually happy to return the favor.
Marketing is tough, no doubt. I read a lot of articles and books seeking new marketing ideas, but the suggestions that make the most sense are: 1. Write a good book. 2. Write a second good book.
Other ideas: Offer books free for a review; besides friends, Goodreads is a great starting place to find reviewers. Do a Goodreads giveaway. Search out Facebook groups where you can promote your book, go to book festivals, check with your local library and local book clubs. Tweet a bit, post a great review on Facebook, but ultimately keep in mind your job is to identify your readers and figure out how you can reach them.
Bio: Holly Michael, published in various magazines, newspapers, and in Guideposts books has released her debut novel, Crooked Lines. She and her husband, Anglican Bishop Leo Michael, regularly travel from their home in Kansas City to India. She has a grown daughter, Betsy and two sons who play football. One in the NFL and one in college football. Visit Holly at http://www.hollymichael.com/ and check out her blog at http://www.writingstraight.com/
Book: Crooked Lines
A great TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Novelist Chimamanda Adichie tells the story of how she found her authentic cultural voice — and warns that if we hear only a single story about another person or country, we risk a critical misunderstanding.
This video is from the recently concluded The Hindu Lit for Life 2013. Authors Jerry Pinto and Nilanjana Roy converse about the first book being the first love.
I started trying to get published in 2004, after a few false starts earlier in life (in elementary school, junior high, college, when our oldest son went to elementary school…). I sent nicely printed sheets in flat brown envelopes with stamped self-addressed envelopes stowed inside, and I got form letters back that read “Thank you for your submission. If you enclosed a stamped addressed envelope we are returning it.”
A few years later I attended a writers’ conference and learned you’ll never get anywhere in writing without a platform. I even learned what a platform was, though the thought of writing a blog was way more scary than writing a novel. After all, a blog’s like real life, diary, journal… why would I imagine anyone wanted to read about my life? So…
I self-published. I picked the books I’d had the least success with at the conference, where agents said the market was overloaded. Putting them on Lulu, learning to edit, proof-read, format, use cover creators, set prices, choose titles etc. all furnished articles for my blog. But of course, no one was reading my blog so I chased the internet following strangers and making new friends. I sold ridiculously small numbers of books to neighbors at the Holiday Bazaar. And I wondered if I’d ever make enough money for Lulu to bother paying me. And then…
Then I spotted Gather.com’s first chapters competition and entered it. I entered Amazon’s breakthough novel award too, though neither led as far as I might have wished. I entered some short stories to e-magazines and anthologies too—no pay, but at least they gave me some publishing credits.
Meanwhile those new friends, many of whom were writers, started asking me to write reviews. It wasn’t something I’d ever imagined doing, but I love to read and I love to write, so I said I’d give it a go. Three hundred book reviews later I noticed I’d reviewed and enjoyed several ebooks from the same publisher. And the publisher was running a contest. And I rather liked the prompt.
My novelette (I’m still learning what qualifies as novel, novella and novelette) won the contest and I added my first professionally published ebook to my name. It didn’t have that “thump factor” of a real paperback of course and I couldn’t put it on my stall, but it’s a wonderful step on the path.
By now I’d learned to read like a reviewer, so I finally opened that long neglected novel on my computer and re-read it. I’m so glad it hadn’t been published. It was time to write like an editor.
Three ebooks later I checked the websites of print publishers I’d reviewed for. They’re not the big houses, just small presses—the sort of place that might maybe say “yes” to an unknown writer. And one of them did.
Actually, they sent me an email which started “Thank you for sending your submission…” I thought I knew the next line by heart, the one that starts “but…” Except this one said “We would like to offer you a contract.” I ran around the room, then demanded that everyone come and check the computer to make sure I’d not misread it. I printed out the email (and the contract) and read them again. And it was real.
So now my first real novel’s out in genuine thump-factor paperback—I thump it on the table every once in the while just to hear the sound. It’s even going to be stocked in my local Powells! I still want to make a name for myself, I’d love to have an agent, maybe get published by a big name too, or at least get sales as if I were, but my journey’s moving determinedly forwards and dreams are free.
My Ten Steps from Self-published to published:
- Make lots of friends on the internet. (Real-world friends help too!)
- Self-publish something you don’t mind not sending out to publishers.
- Say yes when your friends want to be guests on your blog or ask you to review their books. It’s called networking. It’s also called being a good friend.
- Research the publishers. Reading a lot, writing book reviews, and networking with writers can help you find them.
- Start small. A story in an e-magazine is a genuine step on the way, even if it doesn’t pay.
- Take baby-steps. The big publishers really aren’t likely to care, so try the small ones. Try an e-publisher. Find a niche and fit yourself in.
- Take those rejected pieces and work on them again. Get friends (and efriends) to read and comment on them. Read them yourself with your reviewer’s hat on and see which bits you skip and which bits you hate. Then edit them.
- Keep taking baby-steps. Send a submission to a print anthology. Maybe the publisher will remember you name later.
- Try matching your writing with the small presses you’ve researched, then take a deep breath and send that novel out again.
- Celebrate rejection with chocolate and coffee, ’til one day someone says “YES!”
Good luck, and enjoy the writing, the reading, and the making of new friends.
About Divide by Zero:
It takes a subdivision to raise a child, and a wealth of threads to weave a tapestry, until one breaks.
Troy, the garage mechanic’s son, loves Lydia, the rich man’s daughter. Amethyst has a remarkable cat and Andrea a curious accent. Old Abigail knows more than anyone else but doesn’t speak. And in Paradise Park a middle-aged man keeps watch while autistic Amelia keeps getting lost.
Pastor Bill, at the church of Paradise, tries to mend people. Peter mends cars. But when that fraying thread gives way it might take a child to raise the subdivision—or to mend it.
About the author:
Sheila Deeth grew up in the UK and has a Bachelors and Masters in mathematics from Cambridge University, England. Now living in the States near Portland Oregon, she enjoys reading, writing, drawing, telling stories and meeting her neighbors’ dogs on the green.
Divide by zero is free on Amazon kindle on October 28th: http://www.amazon.com/Divide-by-Zero-ebook/dp/B0090NFH56/, http://www.amazon.co.uk/Divide-by-Zero-ebook/dp/B0090NFH56/
Hello everyone! I’m CP Bialois, but you can call me CP. I answer to either so no worries. I want to thank Rasana Atreya for allowing me to share her blog today to celebrate the launching of my newest book (more on that later).
When people first learn I’m a writer, one of the first questions I’m asked is “How do you write?” Out of all the questions I’ve been asked through the course of my life, that one used to make me think every time. Since I’ve since become used to answering it, I thought I’d share my thoughts and views on how I do it.
Depending on who you talk to you’ll either want to have the story planned out with a detailed outline, a vague outline leaving you room to grow, or simply write by the seat of your pants.
I have to be totally honest in that for the longest time I felt like a freak because my methods are a combination of the second and third choices I listed. Everywhere I turned, people were telling me that to be successful I had to have every detail planned for what I wanted to write.
You see, I can pick up a pen and paper and just start a story off the top of my head. By the time I’m two to three sentences in I know who my main characters will be, what I want to happen in the story, and how I want it to end. The characters I create then take me on the journey as they tell me what to write.
While everyone seems to like my stories, I never took myself seriously. They were always a hobby or something to do to entertain my friends. Then one day I picked up Stephen King’s book On Writing and I found a home. When he said how his stories often involve him putting a coupe of characters into a certain situation and letting them find their way out I let out a cheer. One of my idols had a style similar to mine! Can you imagine the feeling of vindication I felt? To have one of my idols have the same basic system I do blew my mind.
It’s something I’ve never forgotten and don’t mind using when a friend or a would be writer asks me “How do you write?”. the answer for me took more time than maybe it should have, but each of us have our own system for doing things. It’s up to us to find what works best and not be afraid of failing. It’s tough, but when you come across something written by one of your idols voicing the same practices… it’s worth the journey.
That journey has led me to publish two books with a third, The Sword and the Flame: The Purging launching September 6, 2012. It’s the sequel in a two book series I loved working on more than I can ever explain. Until next time, have a great day my friends and many thanks to Rasana Atreya for allowing me to share her blog today.
Checkout this awesome video from TED. If you tell stories, this video is for you.
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