I’m not the type of person to tell people what to do or what they should read.
Two weeks ago, I had come across a blog post by an author I follow had posted relating to new authors. I thought there were plenty of valid points all new authors should know when they are starting out in the industry.
The author I am talking about is Kristy Bromberg. She is a New York Times Best Selling author of 13 novels. She is a contemporary romance author who knows what it is like to have to market herself. She is an indie author and knows the business very well. I had asked her permission to post her blog post for our group. I hope everyone reads the post and takes away from it all of the points I did.
Thank you to Kristy for letting me share your blog post.
We can’t do this alone. We need to help each other if we are going to become successful. Kristy’s blog post…..
It’s tough love time. Seriously. You need to get organized and realize it takes so much more than a great book to make it these days. If you’re confused on what to do, please feel free to keep reading.
The market is inundated with books right now. It’s not just affecting you as a new author trying to break through in this chaotic world, but it’s also affecting us ‘oldies’ who have been doing it for the last five – eight years.
I’m not posting this from a stance of ‘holier than thou’ but rather a ‘tough love’ one. I recently offered my Facebook page up to 180 new authors. I would do a party and give them each a post to showcase their release to my readers. A small hand that might not do anything but was worth helping them get some extra visibility. Like I said, this world is tough now and every little bit helps.
In the course of gathering their information, I realized that a majority of them didn’t know the following (please note: I am saying some, not all):
They didn’t know what I mean by ‘write me a post’ for Facebook
They didn’t know what I meant when I asked for their ‘links’
Some emailed me upwards of ten times asking ‘is this what you mean’ or ‘what what is xyz’
I don’t mind answering questions for new authors. I never do. But there comes a fine line between asking questions and the you being too lazy to figure it out yourself. As a new author, when a blog or fellow author or a reader offers to give you help, you need to be professional. I can’t stress this enough. This is a business. You may be the most talented author in the world, but if you don’t have a business sense and approach it as such, you are going to miss A LOT of opportunities. You need to come with your best foot forward on the first try because we (us, as authors and our books) are all a dime a dozen these days. If you don’t have your shit together, a blogger might not want to wait for you to get it together and will move on to the next author waiting in line. Because believe me, there is a line.
Another thing (and this may just be a personal pet peeve): You are new, so that means you are in the stage of building relationships. And believe me, your relationship with other authors and bloggers is just as crucial to your success as your relationship with readers… so please, email me yourself. If you’re trying to create those relationships, don’t have your ‘PA’ make the initial/introductory email. To many, that says you think you’re too important to reach out and make the connections yourself. It tells the recipient that you just want ‘something’ (i.e. posting your links) from them for free. They want to get to know you, not your PA. You are the creator of your product and therefore your best sales tool. I’m not saying once there is initial contact, your PA can’t intervene, but for the introduction, being personable, being you, is what is going to get the best response from me or another blog/author. I get that we’re all busy and you might have a PA to help you market your first book . . . That’s perfectly okay and understandable, but remember, this is about building long-term relationships. And if you don’t take the time to talk with the author/blogger, their relationship is being built with your PA, not with you. So when your PA moves on to the next author or becomes an author themselves (which often happens), their loyalty and relationship is with the PA, since you didn’t invest the time…so guess who they move on with? Yep, your PA.
So I’ve said all that and you’re nodding your head agreeing that you don’t know some of these things, but you’re new, so how do you learn? Here’s a few pointers and suggestions:
-Act like this is a business. First and foremost. Be professional at all times.
-Study those authors you like or want to be like. Stalk their social media. See how they construct posts. Notice how often the author you are following posts.
-Notice their teasers are not pirated pictures with text slapped on them (because the last thing you want is to be sued by a photographer).
-Notice their interaction with their readers.
-Learn how to shorten links. This sounds somewhat silly, but no one likes seeing a three line URL link. The short links are more professional. And if the blogger/author wants to add their own affiliate links, they can do so whether the links are long or short (See Bitly. Owly. Smarturl, etc. to shorten links).
-When you reach out to blogs or authors, you make sure you know their name, and don’t just cut and paste the same damn form letter 100 times without changing a thing. You act like you care to know them even if you really don’t. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve gotten from new authors in this promotion I’m doing, where they have called me Katy, Kathy, Karen, and Kristen. . . I get it, I use my initial K. so it can happen. Personally, I’m not offended by it, but if you’re emailing a blogger to read an ARC (i.e. an advanced copy) and don’t know their name when their name is part of their blog title, I assure you they won’t give you the time of day. Research the blog beforehand and make sure you personalize your correspondence instead of using ‘Hey babe’ or “Hey chick!’
-Create relationships with other up and coming authors and/or bloggers. Band together and cross promote with them. Make them your tribe because they are the ones who are going to help push and promote you long term.
–YOU put the leg work in and don’t expect an email asking an author/blogger you’ve never communicated with before to post the links for you. We’re asked daily to do that. Besides, it’s going to take a lot more than another author/blogger posting your book to find success.
-This is YOUR DREAM. You are the one who is going to make it for yourself. Not someone else.
-Communication is key. Think before you hit send. Make sure your emails and messages are well thought out so that you don’t have to send ten more to explain each subsequent one. Just like you, we are all crazy busy…and so trying to piece together ten emails and what you mean from one to the next is not always our priority. A blog gets a hundred emails a day asking about reviews and ARCS. They like all the information in one place. Not ten emails. Believe me, they favor authors who make their lives easier, not harder.
-No one owes you anything. Just like no one owes me anything. I don’t care if you’ve been doing this ten years, ten months, or ten days – no one owes us anything. Not a sale. Not a page read. Not a review. Is that what you’re striving for? Of course. But at the end of the day, no one owes it to you. Regardless if you are a new or an ‘old’ author, entitlement in any form is ugly and a major turn off.
-A simple THANK YOU goes a long way. Sure you’re busting your butt and are tired as hell, but when someone helps you, a simple thank you is appreciated. It’s sad that they are so few and far between these days that it gets noticed when you give one, but it does. It truly does.
-Treat readers with respect. Treat bloggers with respect. Treat reviews –both good and bad – with respect. Treat other authors with respect. I can’t stress this enough.
-If you don’t succeed, try again. Lame? Yes. But I’ve failed a hundred times doing this writing thing. You need to learn from your mistakes. Move on. Better yourself and your writing with the knowledge you gain.
-Mistakes happen. I’ve published a book with errors in it before. We all have. To err is human and you will NEVER catch all the mistakes… but heed this warning: It is not your editor’s fault. It is not your proofer’s fault. It is not your beta’s fault. There is nothing uglier than an author going on social media blaming others for something wrong with their book. Remember what I said before – be professional at all times.
-Don’t ask other authors about lists (i.e. NYT, USA Today, etc) . I get emails all the time from new authors who have yet to publish their first book, asking me how many sales they need to hit the lists. So . . . if you’re publishing to hit a list, then your writing for the wrong reasons. Yes, it’s easy for me to say when I have hit the lists . . . but they were never even a thought when I first published Driven. I would have laughed at anyone who had even mentioned the possibility because it wasn’t even on my radar. So please, don’t publish to hit a list. Publish because you love to write, you love what you’ve written, and you want others to fall in love with it as well.
Is this the holy grail of what to do? Hell, no. Do I know everything? Absolutely not. I’m still learning every day. I’m still listening to my tribe and learning from them. I’m still putting the time in to watch trends, adjust, change, and reinvent. That’s how this industry works – but I know it is not a measure of my success. Have my last books been as successful as the Driven Trilogy? No. And they probably never will be. The times have changed. The market has more choices for readers. The competition is more abundant. But that doesn’t mean you stop trying. If this is your dream, you learn every day, with every chat you have, with every post you read, with every new thing you write.
I’m far from perfect. I struggled at the beginning and still do in some aspects right along with you. I knew no one when I started, but I knew how to hustle and work hard and studied other authors. I didn’t copy them but rather took in the things they did and reinvented them to work for me. And yes, a little luck meeting opportunity at the perfect time helped as well.
So read this, take what you want from it, or completely ignore it and forge your own path… but after trying to organize this party for new authors, I realized how many people were struggling with knowing what to do or where to go after typing THE END.
So congrats, your book has been written. The easy part is over. Now the hard part begins.
I wish you luck!
(aka Kristy. It’s Kristy. Not Karen. or Kathy. or Kristen. )
And if you’d like to meet some of these new authors and find a new book to read, make sure to head over to my Facebook page this Friday, July 21st starting at 9 am EST to check them out. A new book/author will be posted every 10 minutes throughout the day.