She’s here today to tell us three things we can do to get our books out to readers. Whether you’re looking for an agent or already have a publisher, you can begin working on her ideas.
Tilt the Odds in Your Favor
As an author, there are a lot of aspects of the publishing business that you aren’t likely to be able to control – the resources that your publisher has or is willing to commit to your book, the amount of review coverage that you’re likely to get, the mysterious alchemy whereby one book becomes a hit and another disappears without much trace. But you can make informed decisions, and you can certainly help tilt the odds in your favor.
Here are a few things I’ve learned as I’ve gone through the publication process and recent release of my debut novel, Rock Paper Tiger -- things that you can control…
Write the best book you can write
Well, duh, right? But I feel with all the push to market and promote, the whole notion of quality sometimes gets short shrift. It seems like we’re all in such a hurry to succeed that we forget what success is really about. I’m not one of these believers in “the Muse,” in waiting for inspiration before I’ll sit down and write – I’d never finish a book if I did. But I also think it’s a real mistake to rush something as complicated as a novel just to get it out there.
Take the time you need to get it right.
Set up a professional, easily findable author website.
The publicity person at my (totally awesome) publisher, Soho Press, told me this was the single most useful thing an author can do. It seems obvious, but there are still authors who resist this. Or they resist the necessity of making it look good. Here’s the thing: if you don’t have web design skills, you should bite the bullet and get some help. There are great designers who will work for not a lot of money, or skilled hobbyists who will work for free. Find one.
This is not a place to skimp or cut corners. You’re a pro—present yourself like one.
Build your network.
Building a network isn’t about following a kajillion people on Twitter and spamming them with constant ME, ME, ME!-grams. It’s about finding/creating a community of common interests, providing value to that community and also, interaction. The salient characteristic of social networking is its interactivity – communication goes both ways, and audiences are no longer passive spectators.
I started with two basic “communities” – other writers, and China bloggers. My involvement with these groups preceded my novel’s release, and in some cases, my novel’s composition. To the extent that you can genuinely participate and not just be a carpet-bagger showing up to promote, this is only going to help your efforts when it comes time to market. Why? Because you’re going to be among real friends and fellow travelers who are more likely to support you and want you to do well.
Get out there, and have fun!
Odds are you won’t enjoy or be equally talented at every angle of the self-promotion business. But I’m surprised at how much fun I’ve had with parts of it. Though my blogging has dropped off (when I’m deep into a MS, I just don’t have the energy), I really enjoy keeping the website up to date and a fresh stream of relevant Twitter content flowing from my Facebook author page. My online writing circles have been invaluable, for feedback, support and general moral boosting – and I hope I’ve been as good a resource for them as they’ve been for me.
And I love going to bookstores for events! It surprises me how much I’ve enjoyed this, because I’m not always comfortable in public situations. But being with book people feels like being home.
Thank you Lisa!
You can find out more about Lisa Brackmann and Rock Paper Tiger on her website.
In the Comments section, say “hi” to Lisa, ask a question, or give us your own idea or experience in “tilting the odds in your favor.”