Carol Ann Kaufman is the editor of Vision and Verse, the place for new artists and authors of today and creative minds of the past. I asked her to share her considerable experience and insights on the business of writing. Here are her marvelous examples!
You had a great idea for a novel. You did the research, you dreamed and plotted, you made an outline. You disciplined yourself to write two thousand words a day. You wrote and wrote and wrote your heart and soul out. You edited and found beta readers who were not friends or relatives. You edited AGAIN. Through no small miracle, you found an editor who understands your writing and is willing to sit down with you and discuss your work. You worked together and edited ONE MORE TIME. It was exhausting work, but exhilarating! You found a reasonably priced cover artist and worked with him to make the perfect cover. You formatted your novel to precise specifications for the electronic book. You did one last proofread and ordered hard copies. In a few short weeks, a giant box comes to your door. Your beautiful “baby” is in the box. Fifty of them, to be exact. Now what?
Well, honey, THAT was the easy part. The next part, the business of writing, is the hardest part for most writers because we are generally introverts. The easiest next step is to build a dedicated Page on social media, such as Facebook. This page is to let your future readers get to know you, the writer. This isn’t the spot for personal vacation pictures, weight loss photos, or family party pix, but your pet photos are allowed and are usually a big hit. And although the ultimate goal of this Facebook Page is to sell books, nothing turns readers off as quickly as being bombarded with pleas to buy your book. The bottom line here is to let your sparkling personality and charming sense of humor show through your posts, with only the occasional “commercial” (once or twice a week at most). Party days for any reason and giveaways are good ideas. You will be expected to give away copies of your book. Do it. Although there is a tendency for those with ereaders to stock up on books for future reading, some will read your book rather quickly.
You need an author website, an online place where readers can find your book(s), your photo, a little about you. You may want to dedicate a page on your author website to upcoming projects, personal appearances, and requests for personalized digital autographs (I like Authorgraphs). Remember to include BUY links on this page.
Use apps like Pinterest to your advantage. Make a board for each of your books. Add photos of places similar to locales in your book, etc. It’s like a visual playlist. Social media people are mostly visual learners, or else they’d be listening to something!
Public appearances at your local library, book stores, and book clubs in your area are a great way to introduce your books to new readers. Bring plenty of bookmarks, mini-posters, and business cards.
Now we come to the subject of reviews. Repeat after me, THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A BAD REVIEW. Post it on your refrigerator, your bathroom mirror, your lover’s forehead, wherever you will see it, and try very hard to believe it. That first bad review hits hard and hurts. Try to remember, anyone with opposable thumbs is able to type a review. A bad review is not a reflection of the caliber of your work, only one person’s reaction to it. Remember that your book will not appeal to everybody. Remember that… THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A BAD REVIEW. If we have learned anything from celebrities in the media, it should that publicity is publicity. Cry if you must in private, accept the occasional bad one among the good ones, then step over it, and continue on your journey as a writer.
Keep all your receipts for things pertaining to your writing. Writers’ magazine subscriptions, marketing books you buy, as well as office supplies, etc. are all legitimate deductions that you will be able to take once you start to make money. Until then, you don’t need an accountant, just a place to store these receipts.
Now all this publicity, marketing, blogging, Facebooking, and author website creating will absorb all the time you give it. Try to keep in mind you are first and foremost a writer; therefore you must WRITE every day. It is the only way you will improve and flourish. Stephen King’s advice to a writer who finished his first novel was to put his head down and start his second novel. Keep to a writing schedule. A writer CAN write one horrible novel. But if one keeps writing, the odds are in your favor for improvement!
Another integral piece in this puzzle is to read every day. Read the competition. Read genres you normally would not. Read non-fiction. Learn how to do something new, whether it’s a craft, something in the garden, or how to solve a Sudoku – just learn a new skill. It will open new pathways and these new fresh ways of thinking will slowly find their way into your work. And try writing in another genre. Don’t get stuck writing the same book over and over with different character names. Today’s readers aren’t into formula written books.
It has been a pleasure being with you today. Thank you to the lovely and talented Kathy Bryson for inviting me. If I can be on any further help, please let me know. Hugs, Carol