This week alone, I’ve been approached by a half dozen people who were curious about writing books – from the actual writing of the story, to how to get it into the hands of readers. To have people look at me for these answers is kind of incredible. I mean, I remember a year ago, gearing up to publish my first book, and being totally lost in what I was supposed to be doing. I couldn’t wait to get that book onto Amazon and be a real live published author. But, then what? I looked up to those local authors I knew that were publishing books right and left, and I began following them via social media to see what they were doing right. And I began listening to the Self Publishing Podcast (who now have an incredible book out chock full of information called “Write. Publish. Repeat.” Go download it now).
I’m definitely no expert. But because I’ve been consuming every bit of information I can about writing and self-publishing this past year, and through lots of trial and error, I have learned a lot – particularly about what to do (and not to do) to get your book into other people’s hands.
Here are my top 5 tips:
1. Write a book worth reading. This is the first and most important step, and should be the most obvious. However, it’s also advice that’s not always followed. Before a book goes live, it should be free from errors and typos. The characters should be fully developed. The storyline should make sense and be believable. An editor (or at least someone who isn’t you) should look it over and clean it up. The cover should draw people in, the back cover description should seal the deal. Write a book that readers will want to share with their friends, and your readership will begin to grow.
2. Believe in your book. When I first published “A Symphony of Cicadas,” I was so dang shy about it. I mean, I’d tell people I wrote a book. And then they’d ask me about it. Suddenly, I’d clam up and be closely guarded about what my book was about. I was afraid that maybe the story wouldn’t matter. And when it came to knowing who this book was written for, who knew? But the thing is, I was proud of my book then. And I’m proud of it now. It’s this story about life changing in an instant, the grief that comes with that change, and the light that shines through when you accept that change and grow from it. It weaves a story that many people can resonate with who have struggled to hold on to a life that is no longer a part of their path, and the peace that comes when acceptance is changed. Know your story. Know who would want to read it and why. And believe that what you write is something that can change someone’s world.
3. Join a writing group. Last year, I joined my regional writing club, Redwood Writers. I went to the first meeting, and was totally inspired. Here was this group of people who were just as passionate as I was about writing. They held workshops, booked readings, and held events. At the meetings, authors sat at tables around the room with books for sale. Each meeting had a speaker that gave inside tips on a certain aspect of writing or publishing. And then to be surrounded by so many writers… Over the past several months I’ve been getting more and more involved with the club. I’ve gotten to know several other writers, and my face is beginning to be more familiar in the club. I’m learning a lot, both about writing and about getting my books in the public eye. And this group is catapulting me further down the publishing road.
4. Be your best advocate. You know how some local authors seem to be everywhere? They’re holding book signings at several different venues. They’re hosting workshops. Their name is seen all over. You know how that’s happening? They’re doing that. They’re not waiting for people to ask them to read their book at an event. They’re not waiting for people to come to them about their book. Their name is getting known because they’re making sure people learn it. If you sit back and wait for your book to be discovered, it’s not going to happen. Offer to host a workshop on something you’re skilled at. Sign up for local readings. Host an event that maybe the local newspaper may want to mention. Contact the bookstores in your area and ask about how to get your book on their shelves. You have to do more than just write a book to get it noticed, you have to get creative with how to get the word out.
5. Keep writing. So you’ve written a book. That’s great! Now write another. And when your done with that, write another. Give your readers something else to read once they’re done with your first book. Gather more readers with each book you write. If a book garners a lot of attention, consider making it a series to keep the momentum going. There are too many authors out there who are cranking out the books. If you write just one book and stop there, you’re going to be buried under the pile. Keep your name at the top of the list and just keep writing.
P.S. I’m holding a giveaway for an advanced copy of my upcoming novel, “Forever Thirteen,” as well as a few other prizes. Enter here.