In June, Danielle Barclay of Barclay Publicity was the guest speaker at my RWA Chapter meeting. She talked about how authors can build a strong digital footprint to support their marketing efforts.
Hearing her made me realize it’s time to put on my marketing hat. Before her presentation, I hadn’t given any thought to hiring someone to help publicize the release of my debut novel, The Demon Always Wins, which will debut on Amazon on September 1st. I figured on a more grassroots approach:
- Putting the book into Kindle Unlimited (more on that here)
- Releasing two more books within six months of my debut to keep myself visible to the Amazon algorithm.
- Asking for reviews via my newsletter and my FB author page.
- Entering the book in every published-book contest I can find. It did well on the unpublished-book circuit, so getting it in front of potential readers in the form of judges seems like a good way to gain visibility.
- Being patient and trusting that my funny, satisfying, off-beat books will gain an audience.
Then I listened to Dani Barclay talk about the things one should do to promote a release (and a career) and realized how naive I was. The above list wasn’t going to be nearly enough to give my book any chance of being seen and read in a world where thousands of books are released on Amazon every day. Continue reading
Okay, let’s see how the month stacked up:
Goals for June:
- Buy ISBN’s. (You can read about that here.)
- DONE! I was waffling about this, because it required spending a chunk of cash for something that’s not that fun, and that’s never easy, but then Eight Lady Justine forwarded me a promotional email offering 10% off if I bought them that day, which was just what was needed to spark me into moving.
- Study up on how to load a book to Amazon.
- Finish this draft of Girl’s Best Friend and hand it off to some beta readers.
- I got to the finish line, only to realize I didn’t buy the ending. And with release dates looming for The Demon Always Wins (September 1st–eek!) and The Demon’s in the Details it was time to put GBF down for a nap and focus on my main goals. I have since (I think) figured out how to fix the ending and if I get a couple of free days, I will.
- Figure out how to address the issues my editor raised with The Demon’s in the Details. (I said she had fewer edits. I didn’t say they were easy.)
- I am, as of this writing, just shy of being halfway through the manuscript, and several days ahead of schedule. There may, of course, be more surprises to come in the second half, but the way my editor generally works, the most difficult stuff usually shows up early.
- Get ready for the RWA® National Conference in July. As a Golden Heart® finalist, I will be attending a reception with agents and editors, as well as the luncheon where the awards will be presented to the winners. Since my post-retirement wardrobe doesn’t have a lot of fancy clothes, this requires some planning and, possibly, shopping.
- What this actually required was taking a dress I bought 25 years ago at a vintage clothing shop (that’s right–it was old when I bought it a quarter of a century ago) and replacing the ostrich feathers around the hem, (that’s right, it has ostrich feathers) which had turned brown with age, with new ones. I’m as certain as a woman can be that no one else will show up wearing the same dress.
A couple of weeks ago, I was still happily piddling around with Girls’ Best Friend, the contemporary romance I’ve been working on for a couple of years. Then, one morning, I suddenly realized that if I want to release The Demon’s in the Details, Book 2 of my Touched by a Demon series, on October 1st, I was in trouble.
Let’s work backward through the schedule.
October 1: Make the book live on Amazon.
Last week of September: Load the book onto Amazon. Set up any ads I’d like to create to promote the book.
First three weeks of September: Have the book proofread and formatted.
August: Have the book copy-edited and work through the copy-editor’s recommended changes. (My first book had literally thousands of recommended changes, so I need a couple of weeks after I get the book back before I can pass it on to the proofreader.)
Are you feeling panicky yet? Well, I am.
My journey toward publication has been loaded with new learning opportunities. One of the biggest was choosing a content, or developmental, editor. This is both because this selection has the most impact on the quality of the book(s) I will put out, and because it’s the single biggest expense in the self-publishing journey.
The problem was, I didn’t really understand what a content editor would do. I knew they weren’t the same as a copy editor, who would look for problems with grammar and wording. Content editors work at a more macro level—they’re concerned with characters and plot.
But I still didn’t understand exactly what that meant.
Were they just a glorified (and paid) version of the critique group I’d had for so long? Or something more? What should I expect? How would I even begin to tell a good one from mediocre one or even a bad one? Continue reading
Hundreds of years ago, Shakespeare’s Romeo told Juliet, “What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.” Well, roses and amorous suitors aside, turns out there is something to a name, especially when it comes to a writing career. Some weeks ago, I went on a quest determine the best name(s) forward for my planned multi-genre writing career.
For as long as those of you reading the blog have known me, I’ve been Nancy Hunter because that’s the name I chose a decade ago (!!!) when I had a book come out with a publisher. At the time, I worked in a very intense and Very Serious career, and needed to keep some daylight between it and my writing life. This was not a deep cover pen name, as co-workers with appropriate googling skills would occasionally uncover my ‘secret identity’. And HR departments always knew it, because I had to claim my intellectual property (IP) at the outset, lest the corporations employing me try to claim writing created on my own time as theirs. (Gotta love corporate America: for the price of your salary, they claim the right to monetize everything you say, do, think, and feel every minute of every day, please and thank you.)
Lo these many years later, I’ve left that corporate world. I swear! Girl Scout’s honor (yes, I was actually a Girl Scout, so you can trust me). And in addition to the freedom to make my own schedule and write whenever and where ever and whatever I see fit, I also now have the freedom to use my very own legal name. If I so choose… Continue reading
This week, Justine and Jeanne shared their reasons for deciding to opt for indie publishing instead of pursuing the traditional route. Next year I’ll be joining them on that journey, and I decided to use today’s post to explain why.
It’s interesting that none of us are doing it because we think we’ll make more money (though wouldn’t that be nice?). For Justine, it’s about having control of the process. For Jeanne, it’s about being master of her own fate. For me, it’s both of those things, but also—mainly—about the time and investment I think I’ll need to give myself the best chance of success.
I’ve never been much of a first impressions kind of person. In my business life, I rarely wowed interviewers or clients in the big meeting. I’m more of an acquired taste, though as I worked with people, I usually grew on them. Over time, I built up a network of trusted connections. In a thirty-year professional career I changed employer just three times, and all my opportunities came through personal recommendations.
The same pattern holds good in my personal life. I’m still married to the man I met aged 18, and I have a small group of close friends, accumulated over a long time. The 8 Ladies were classmates for a stressful, labor-intensive year. We knew each other pretty well by the time we started this blog.
Told you that to tell you this: I suspect my slow burn style is more suited to indie publishing than trad, and here’s why.
On Sunday, Justine posted about her decision to publish independently. One of the factors, she said, was watching me win the 2015 Golden Heart® for Paranormal Romance, only to fall short on getting a publishing contract.
Just for the record, I have to confess that I sent out a grand total of 12 queries. That included two requests for full manuscripts that I received via contests I entered in preparation for entering the Golden Heart®. From conversations with other GH finalists, I gather 12 queries constitutes a pretty lame effort. One of the 2015 group told me she made over 400 queries and/or pitches before she secured a contract.
Four. Hundred. Attempts.
By that standard, I gave up without a struggle. Continue reading