On November 24th, 2011, I proudly gave birth to a 216 page bundle of joy
As a newly published writer, like many new moms, I get some interesting questions asked of me. Most frequent query: what advice would you give to other new or aspiring writers? Answer: there’s quite a bit to do before the due/publication date.
I’m not big on offering unsolicited advice – being overly opinionated has gotten me into more than a few rocky situations. However, today I’ll break my no advice mantra to offer a few insights into my rookie writer world.
- When you believe you have a great book ready to go, find a publisher that will be your ideal book birthing coach. Find a publishing team that you can lean on and who will provide thoughtful and honest feedback and advice. After narrowing down my search to three firms, I went with a wonderful company: Friesen Press . They were a perfect fit for me. Take your time and find your perfect fit.
- Engage in social media six months before your due date. In the same way that you have nine months to prepare for the birth of a child, use the time before your book is published to learn and understand the social media world. There is a rich array of resources available to you on the Internet: Facebook, Twitter, and blogging are my big three at the moment.
· Facebook. I’m working now to move beyond my book fan page and have joined several Facebook groups that support and engage new writers. I wish I had done this earlier. Examples of great places to start include The Kindle Hub, Go Indie, and Celebrating Authors. If you’re currently writing a book, consider joining a few of these groups so you can begin to interact with other writers and learn about marketing tools such as blog tours and giveaways. You will gain valuable insight regarding how to reach your fan base – and you will meet some very interesting people too.
· Twitter. I joined Twitter after my book was published and I truly wish I had started much sooner. One of the smartest things I ever did was sit down over coffee with one of my twenty-something gal pals and have her give me a crash course in “Twitterworld” navigation. She was spot-on when she noted that there is about a six month learning curve when it comes to Twitter. You have to learn the Twitter language to become truly comfortable: direct messages (DM); re-tweets (RT); modified tweets (MT); hash tags (#); and twitter events such as “Follow Fridays” are all part of the Twitter culture. Learning to be succinct in 140 characters or less is an art form that takes practice.
Once you do get up to speed, Twitter becomes one of your greatest new author allies. A few hash tags I use often include #amwriting, #writing, #blogging, #blog, #amblogging, #writers, and #memoir. There are some great tweeters out there that provide terrific advice for writers – two that I follow are Duolit and Elizabethscraig .
**Important tip: if all you do is tweet about your book, people will probably stop following you. Your tweets need to be a mix of book promoting and other tidbits and updates.
· Blogging. I must admit that this one worried me a bit. How on Earth would I find the time to develop blog posts and who the heck would read my blog anyway? Before you start a blog, follow a few author bloggers: Rachel Abbott, Bob Mayer , and Morgen Bailey are three of my favorites. To find a blogger that might interest you, use Google Blog Search. Also, you might want to join Book Blogs, which currently boasts 418 different groups you can join.
My “aha” moment came when I figured out that you don’t blog about your book. I bet you’re thinking “huh?” The best bloggers write about issues, ideas, or news items that relate to their book. For example, let’s say you are writing a book about honey bees. You could develop a blog that focuses on: nature; insects; endangered species; honey recipes; household uses for honey; pollen and allergies; etc. On most days my own blog focuses on topics that are of interest to baby boomer age women. I’ve written about things as diverse as my dog Taz, southern gal sensibilities, and my son’s college philanthropic work. I post my blog on my website, but there are other platforms you can also use including http://www.blogspot.net and http://www.blogger.com
- Have your author’s website ready to go live the day your book is born. I strongly recommend creating an author’s website. I am sure that many of you, like me, have little or no budget for marketing your book. Trust me, any funds expended on creating an author’s website will be money well spent. I made the rookie mistake of not launching my website until nearly two months after my book was published. I missed out on some valuable holiday marketing opportunities. Assess several author websites and develop a feel for what you like. I hired my web designer after reviewing her work for several other clients.
- Develop a marketing plan before your little bundle of joy arrives. This doesn’t have to be fancy, but you are going to need a vision for how you want to market your book. Sandra Beckwith is a book marketing genius; she offers quite a bit of free advice at http://buildbookbuzz.com. You should sign up for her monthly newsletter (also free). I’ve learned from Sandra that marketing isn’t just about selling books. A good marketing plan includes book review requests, local press contacts for press releases and story ideas, local bookstores to target, and interview requests. Make sure to review Blog Talk Radio for interview opportunities such as The Writers Lounge. It’s also a good idea to make friends with your local librarian and donate copies of your book to the library.
I still have much to learn about writing and publishing – six months in I remain very much a newbie. I would love to hear suggestions from other newly published writers. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?