Many of us watch unknown authors climb the ladder to success and wonder, 'How'd they do that', 'Why them and not me?' We all work hard to get our books in front of readers, what did they do that was different? Read diymfa's article, "5 Easy Steps to Overnight Success" to see what you can do to improve your success.
As a teacherI'm used to creating lesson plans for the next week or planning to achieve an academic goal. Even with years of experience this is not easy when you are faced with unfamiliar territory. Below is an example of how I might plan for my author blog in May. You'll notice it isn't the same thing everyday since I'm trying to build a relationship with my readers and want to give them a reason to return.
Keep it between the lines,
I’m about to complete my third novel, FAMILY MATTERS, the sequel to FAMILY WAYS. I’ve written other books, but FAMILY WAYS was the first one I got up the nerve to publish in July of 2014. It’s the story of Tracy Mahon, a single mother and her two girls. Tracy is injured in a fall and needs help. She finds herself falling in love with a married man, she deals with teenage problems. And they all survive an evil man who threatens to kill them. And so goes the story.
I knew I had to write a sequel, but in the meantime, SUGAR TIME jumped ahead in line and I had to write it. I published it in June of 2015.
When I sat down to begin FAMILY MATTERS I knew in order to bring the two books together, I had to cover some basics. I write from a stream of consciousness. No plot or outline. I sat down at my computer, brought up Word and started writing. I was scared to death. Failure surrounded me. What if the story didn’t happen? I wasted time checking emails and read the happenings on Facebook. I finally forced myself to write the first sentence: “Tracy Mahon shifted the laptop to her left hand and punched in the access code.”
She goes into her shop so I give my readers a glimpse as she continues into her office. So far I’ve dashed off a half dozen paragraphs. Then it happens. That zone or state of mind when my other self, the creative one, that other person within me, steps up and takes over. I’ve learned to trust it, but I’m still frightened whenever I begin writing a new chapter that it won’t happen. However the words take shape, chapter by chapter, layer by layer. It originates from where all stories are housed. From the unpainted shelves of creativity. I’m in awe of it. I thank God for it.
The new world of independent publishing is a double edged sword. Yes, it allows authors to publish their own work and bypass years of rejection, but leaves them asking, "How do I promote my book?"
I found myself in the same predicament. After a year of writing and editing I was excited to finally able to publish Broken Angel and begin its sequel, Broken Promise. That delusion was short lived when I realized that no one was going to pound down the door and demand to buy a copy of my book no matter how well it was written because I was an unknown author.
My advice, start a blog.
What is a blog?
A blog is a short dialog where you discuss a topic; sort of like a diary, but not as personal.
Why should I blog?
What do I talk about?
How often should I blog?
That is up to you, but the more frequent and consistent you are, the larger your following will be.
How do I keep a reader's interest?
Research: I'm including a couple of links to articles that I found useful.
Last Monday my doctor asked where she could buy a copy of Broken Angel. "Well," I said, "if you can wait until the weekend, it will be free on Amazon." She was shocked. "Why are you giving your work away?" Good question, why do authors give their books away?
I'm sure there are many reasons, but mine is simple: I'm a new author and need to build my readership. Sure, readers will see my name or the name of my book on FaceBook and Twitter, but they'll keep scrolling down their feed. Why? Because we have not made a connection. It is the same in the classroom (for those who don't know, I'm a teacher). I can lecture, simulate, and have students replicate, but unless I have helped them to make a connection to something they have learned previously or something they are interested in, there will be little learning and even less enthusiasm. So I need to do something to gain their attention.
Since it is imposible for me to meet every fantasy reader and introduce myself, I'm choosing to give Broken Angel away for a limited time. It is my way of digitally shaking the reader's hand and saying, "Let's get to know each other." If the reader enjoys my style of writing they might stop by my website or visit me on FaceBook and say hello. Perhaps they will read my bio and realize we have a common interest. Either way, we are starting a conversation and building trust. The goal is for a reader to discover they enjoy my writing which leads to them telling their friends and look forward to future books.
So, dear reader, please stop by Amazon May 6 or 7, 2016 , download a good read., and stop by my website to say hello and start our conversation.
Keep it between the lines,
Last week I talked about the importance of building online relationships--figuring out who your audience is, where they hang out, what they talk about, and what connections you have with them. However beware, there are many people offering to sell you programs or classes promising their product will aid you in reaching your audience. Sounds good, but you may find yourself shelling out precious dollars only to find the product, while good, doesn't meet your needs or is not user friendly. Most companies will return your money, what they cannot return is your time. As authors, our plate is already full with deadlines, promotion, not to mention writing. The time we spend learning needs to be deliberate and focused.
Why am I saying this? Because yesterday I stumbled upon someone offering classes on social marketing. After looking through the curriculum I realized there were many topics I had on my list of things to learn. After listening to a "free" podcast I realized this person taught in a way that held my attention and everything was clearly defined. So, I wandered over to the price link and that is when I was ready to close the link, but before I could, a pop down window appeared with an offer I couldn't refuse. (Good marketing strategy) After my purchase, I was now able to root around the different classes and began implementing them. The teacher mentioned placing a FaceBook "like" button on your website to make it easy for your web visitor to find you. Makes sense. Off I went following the tutorial, amazed at how easy it was...until that moment.
The problem began when the teacher was using a different web site developer offered apps mine didn't. The rest of the day was spent searching for a comparable app online and the Apple Store without finding a thing. Back to FaceBook apps where I'd left the teacher saying that you didn't need to have the HTML the way she was showing us to do it....right, but she forgot to mention this trick worked only for her server.
I'd come this far and was not going to give up now. After reading more tutorials from my web site developer and trying each suggestion and not achieving the desired results I finally asked myself an important question. Was this app necessary? No, at least not at this time since I already had FaceBook button that led to my page. That is when I realized how much time I'd lost. My daily writing had not been done, there was a blog post yet to write, and dinner was not ready.
While it is true that we need to create relationships with our target audience, it is also true that we cannot do that if we are off on a wild goose chase.
Keep it between the lines!
Taking A Break
by author Phyllis f. McManus
When I saw this picture by Artist Jenny Zovein , my imagination was off and running. It reminded me that having eight books published; it was time for me to slip back in a comfortable routine for a while. I should point out that I love my journey of writing, but maybe I just need to stop and smell the roses, as the old saying goes.
So this afternoon I decided to take time to plant several flower baskets. I enjoyed this for at least five minutes before my characters started jumping around in my mind. I tried to shake it off, but then I started thinking about upcoming book signings and speaking engagements.
I realized while sitting on the fresh cut grass, playing in the dirt with my baskets and flowers that I love writing. It’s my passion, and I can’t escape even for two hours on a pleasant afternoon without thinking of writing.
I enjoy book signings because of the personal contact with my readers. It builds a bond between the reader and me that I hope will last for years.
I quickly finished planting my newly bought flowers, went back inside, grabbed me a tall glass of sweet ice tea and positioned myself at the keyboard. It felt good to start once again making my characters happy. My time off didn’t last long, but it was enjoyable. I did smell the flowers and I wiggled my toes in the cool grass.
One last point, at the end of the day, make time for the things that make your heart sing. Writing and public speaking makes my heart sing. So, I will start each day with a smile on my face, a prayer on my lips, and a positive attitude that I can write the next chapter in my life, and live that happily ever after doing the things I love to do –WRITE.
Phyllis f. McManus
My books can be found on www.amazon/kindle.com
Please visit me on Facebook on my Author Phyllis f. McManus page. Give me a Like on my page and give me feedback. I love being told what I am doing wrong, as much as I enjoy being told what I’m doing right. It helps me grow. My “bookies” are the best. Ya’ll inspire me.
While researching marketing this week, one theme kept showing up: relationships. We all know what relationships are, after all, we have built them with our partners, children, and friends. But how do you build a relationship with someone you may never meet in person?
First, know who your followers/readers are. Their age, gender, economic status, what their connection might be to your topic. Consider my book Broken Angel. The main character, Daeris, is an independent girl who has a tight knit family. She becomes rebellious after her mother is murdered and no one will listen when she tells them there is a plot to destroy the royal family.
Which gender would be more likely to read this? female
What would be their age? Since this has a coming of age feel, I'd say mid-teen. However, I know there is a scene toward the end that is appropriate for adult audiences (not that I haven't seen young teens read books with sex in them--one twelve year old student was reading Shades of Grey with her mother's permission). Even so, that is for a parent to decide so I'll bump the age up to eighteen. Now, the other end of the dominate age group might be a bit more difficult. Think about it, what woman hasn't felt ignored, patronized, or isolated because of her views? (connection) Wouldn't she want to see the heroin save the day? Sure! Especially those who are still trying to establish themselves in the work place. Maybe thirty-five, forty?
We now not only have their age, but a possible connection. Of course there are other possible connections--Scotland, mythology, elves--to name a few, but the strongest one would be understanding how Daeris feels at not being listened to.
Okay, Michelle, I have my data, now what? Look for blogs who cater to your identified group and join in. Participate in discussions on your topic. On your own blog, post your review on books that also reach your target audience. Ask to be a guest blogger on a page relevant to your audience. Reach out, become a familiar name, an expert on your topic.
Life is good!
Big publishers have had control over the book industry for eons, picking and choosing what would and wouldn't sell. Many who hoped of being a published author would watch their dream be eroded away one rejection slip at a time. But do big publishers really have their finger on the pulse of the book industry? Take J.K.Rowling for example. Harry Potter was rejected over thirty times because publishers said their research showed children wouldn't relate to the book, or the vocabulary was too advanced for young readers. Yet when that one publisher said yes, the Potter phenomenon erupted. Thankfully today we have the option to self publish and avoid years of rejection slips, but that freedom comes the responsibility of marketing and that can put some people off.
The realm of marketing is a vast and ever changing one. What works today may not next month, so an independent author needs to keep up with trends by reading and watching what is working for others. Yes, it is time consuming, but you want to sell your book, right? Determined to master the marketing world, authors dive into the gold mine of information the internet offers, but give up because the articles assume the reader is a techno-geek or only give enough information to tease them into buying a marketing service or product. After having this conversation many times with frustrated author friends, I began thinking, what if I could research the topic and share it? Why not go one step further and offer to market books for others? And the The Reader's Bookshelf was born.
In the coming months authors will find articles and tips for marketing their books as well as developing a relationship like minded readers and authors.
Enjoy the ride you're on!
Michelle Craig Snively
The Reader's Bookshelf is designed for readers to find and interact with authors, and for authors to build their audience.