Monday, January 26, 2015

Demystifying the Book Release

I thought I knew what to expect in the weeks leading up to a book's release. I'd scoured every author's post online about it. I'd made notes and created lists. But as the days drew closer, I realized I still didn't fully know what to expect.

A few days back, I happened to be browsing my publisher's website and found my book with a release date. I knew it would be early in the year but I wasn't exactly sure when. So I hurried and posted about it. I rechecked the date. Ugh. My daughter and her family were flying in the day before and we were all headed to Disney and then ten days together back here at my place.

How can my book come out then? After pulling myself together, I frantically searched for my to-do list.

Each day, I checked Amazon as I was told that my book would be posted a few weeks after the release or maybe before. Last night I found the e-book being offered at a special price. Yes, I about dropped over seeing my book on Amazon. I guess that's normal. So I posted the sale everywhere I could.

With another quick consult to my notes, I then created my own Amazon author page. Again, I about dropped over seeing it live but I guess that comes with the territory as well.

It seems all I have left to do is post about my giveaway, send emails to all my hometown newspapers and let every person on the planet know I have a book coming out.

Oh, and breathe too.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

When to Market your Book

I'm not going to tell you here to build your online presence  Or grow your numbers. Or to paste the cover of your book and an Amazon link on every tweet you send or every Facebook post you write.You are already doing that, I'm sure.

What I'm going to tell you is when you should begin to market your book. But it isn't when you learn the release date. Or when you first see your cover. Or even when you get your contract.

I've owned two successful businesses in my life. The first one--a construction company. The second--a bookstore. So I know something about marketing.

We owned our construction company for over twenty years. Not once did we advertise. So how did we get steady business? By word of mouth.


We cared about our customers. We cared who they were and built relationships with them.

As for my bookstore, in the first year, we grew the profits by over 30%. Sure we brought in new merchandise but don't you think our customers could have gone to WalMart to buy their book for a much cheaper price than come into our store?

We built a relationship with our customers. We showed we cared by communicating with them and filling their needs on a personal level.

So what about selling your book? When should you start marketing it?

The minute you start to write. The minute you meet someone. And I don't mean you should tell them about your book. What I'm saying is to develop meaningful relationships even with others online. Not spamming them. Not joining their page and never communicating. Not caring when they voice a real concern.

I tend to buy books from authors who communicate a certain caring attitude. Sure, a writer can't have a one-to-one relationship with all of her followers but she can with many. And that's where the word-of-mouth enters.

I buy books from authors I like. Trust me. If I saw something online about you that I totally disagreed with, I would stop reading your work. No matter how great your book is. That's just the way I am and I tend to think many other people are as well.

I also buy books from authors who are responsive and real in their online presence. I don't think I have to explain that. It takes two seconds to respond to a tweet or a post.

Then I tell my friends about this author. They tell others and soon that author has more people buying their books.

Being a person who cares about who buys your product works. Trust me. It takes well-treated customers to make or break a product. Treat yours with care.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Purpose or Pain

I believe there are bullet points in our lives where we are given eternal choices to make beyond salvation.

Today I read a blog post about a woman who was sharing her journey about going home to heaven. She doesn't have much time left to live but she's chosen to live each day fully.

She has purpose in the days numbering her life. She is sharing her faith.

My purpose is the same as hers.  

Share what Jesus has done for me.

As an inspirational writer, I have a limitless opportunity. I don't always do the in-your-face kind of sharing but I try to point my reader toward God.  Sometimes I'm more successful than other times. Sometimes I'm bolder.

But I remember when I made that choice to  write inspirational or secular fiction. I wanted to sell books and I wanted  to get an agent. I figured the secular market was bigger with more opportunity so I  wrote a romance.

I agonized over that romance. Then I read a Christian book by an author I admired. I wept.

I also changed my choice.

Purpose in our lives is simple. We share about Jesus. We point as many people toward heaven as we can. Plain and simple. No more pain. No more worries. No more frustration.

Perhaps this post is not my norm but that's okay. I'm not so normal either.

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Have Blogging Comments Gone AWOL?

The waters are no longer crystal blue. We have U Tube, Pinterest, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter . . .the list goes on. When I started Blogging in 2006, Facebook and I had not yet met. I had to search for good blog posts to read and when I did find one I liked, I made a point to comment.

Why not? I wasn't spending my time commenting any other place.

When I check my blog stats--I see I readers are reading my posts. But who wants to jump through the hoops of posting (you know the many steps) when you can click a like on Facebook.

I raise my hand in guilt. I read a ton of blogs and rarely comment. Instead, I tweet the ones I want to share or I like it on Facebook. With all a writer has to do in a day, it's hard to take the time to write a lengthy post even when I loved what the writer said.

Here's the catch. As writers, we are encouraged to continue to blog. Blogging strengthens our writing muscles. It helps us sort our ideas. It gives us a place to share our thoughts in more than a few sentences. Stopping isn't really an option.

But neither is commenting like I'd like to comment.

Maybe someday someone will come up with a fast way to comment on Blogging. I agree, disagree, love, hate, want more ... or I'll just pass this on.

We live in a fast world. Hang on tight.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

How Much Do You Want It?

Every year we make resolutions. Or goals. Whatever you want to call them. I've decided to ride my bike more often--get back in shape. Eat healthier.

But two months ago, when I landed an agent--I also decided I must increase my online presence if I wanted to also land a great publisher. It's a task I've been avoiding ever since I started to write for publication. Oh, I love blog followers and I dabble on Twitter but I was one of those writers who often said that I didn't want publication that bad if I had to increase my numbers.

I still don't like checking stats. But in two months, I've added several hundred real people who are writers and readers to my Twitter account. Not by paying someone to do it for me. Not by taking on everyone.

But by writing meaningful content in that little tiny space.

I actually enjoy reading my Twitter feed now. I enjoy seeing what others with common interests are saying. I also understand it's my obligation to give them something in return--not just advertisements of my upcoming releases.

Will this increased effort provide me more opportunity in the future with publishing houses? Honestly, I still believe writing a great book is the best way to get published. Yes, I wish I didn't have to do any of my own marketing but that's the reality today. If I want to be part of that publishing machine, then that means accepting the reality  that I must get known as well.

How much do I want it? Enough to give my 100%. Do you?

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A personal note

I've been blogging since 2006. Shortly after I started, my life took a definite turn in another direction. We packed up our belongings and started moving across the country--west and north and south again in search of stable employment.

My blog went from writing about writing to writing about the journey I was taking to trust God with the plans for my life. In March, once again, we landed back in Florida for work. Never did I plan to return here.

At the start of 2014, I captured my phrase for the year--Embrace the Adventure. I'm doing it. I've actually not called my daughter once this year in tears. Well, maybe only once. But settling, however temporary this home is for us, doesn't mean we embrace everything well.

Christmas is coming in less than two weeks. The memories of past ones pull at my soul hard. I try not to remember but with all the pictures, and lights and festivities it's difficult not to remember past holidays spent with my daughter as a family. We used to put up a tree, and set the table with red and green napkins. I'd dig out my favorite recipes and pack away surprise gifts. I love Christmas. I love the time spent remembering the meaning and the time spent telling friends and family you love them. When your life and circumstances change, so do some of those rituals and remembrances.

This year has also brought changes in my writing life. I now have an agent, a book coming out and responsibilities I didn't have in the past.

What I fear is my blog and the changes I've seen in it. I like to write about the day-to-day challenges we all go through. Maybe this seems insignificant but I don't want my blog to become another tool to self-promote. I want it to be where I get real, tell you that sometimes life is a pain but that with time, God does answer prayer. I want to be able to say that I miss my home, I wish I was with family this Christmas and I want to bawl every time I hear a Christmas carol.

Yet, I know this is where God wants me. And I will not move until I am positive it's His will no matter how many Christmases I spend here.

So I'm taking a deep breath. Embracing life's challenges. Embracing the adventure.

Are you?

Monday, December 15, 2014

A picture is worth a thousand words

I  love to write. Thankfully I do. But I decided I needed another outlet. So I bought myself a much-wanted camera that I could take better shots with for my blog etc. That's what I told my husband when he suggested one for my Christmas present.

Instead I've discovered that I'm in love with photography as well. A writer friend of mine told me good photos should capture the essence of that particular event. I like that thought. It makes me want to think more about what I shoot. Like I do when I write a scene for a book. It's also a great outlet to rest my brain and learn to look around me since I write about life.

So watch closely.

There might be a story closer than you think.


Monday, December 08, 2014

Three Ways to Give Back as a Writer

We've all been there. A newbie. Going to our first writer's group. Telling our family members we want to write. Calling ourselves writers to the IRS. Joining a critique group. Sending out our first query. Getting an agent response...published for the first time.

You might be somewhere on that timeline. Or you might already have a book published and are working on the next one. But at one time we've all been at the start of our writing careers.

How often do you give back to the writer coming up through the ranks like you did?

We get busy in our career. We can barely send out emails let alone write those tweets and blog posts. Answer a phone call that comes on a Monday? Forget it.

But as I sit here and remember what I've been through as a writer, I also remember how so many other writers helped me along the way. I also remember being afraid to ask but when I did, how I was overwhelmed at the kindness sent my way.

Maybe now it's your turn to give back.

Here are three ways to encourage others on this rocky road to publication.

1. Offer to do a short critique for a new writer. Point them in a direction they can submit their work. (Several published authors gave me critiques and helped me tremendously.)

2. Start a writer's group. You don't have to lead it--just be willing to share what you've learned. (My writer's group in Florida gave me so much information to push me forward.)

3. Encourage them through social media. (I love it when a published author takes the time to say something on my blog or Facebook.)

These three points are not the only way you can encourage a new writer. What's vital is to pass and share information and maybe lend a hand to someone who needs it.  Who knows? You might be helping the next great Stephen King.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Yes, New Writer, there really is joy in writing

I love to meet other writers. So much that tomorrow I've set up my first writer's group here in the new community where I live. At two o'clock, I'll take a notebook, a book to read and set myself down in a group room and wait.

Five ladies have contacted me. Several told me they would come and see if what I had to tell them interested them.

How does one convince someone to write?

I don't believe you do.

But I do believe you can encourage them by sharing basic beliefs about the writer's life.

Here's what I plan to do:

1. Ask if they read and what reading does for them. Does reading change their thoughts, encourage, give hope, entertain, lift moods?

2. Do they believe they are never too old to learn a new skill?  Laura Ingalls Wilder first published in her sixties.

3. Are they willing to take risks and share what they know so others might enjoy? Everyone has stories from life experiences they like to tell.

4. Is their skin thick enough to take feedback in order to improve their skills? How much of themselves are they willing to put out there? Can they take rejection?

5. Finally, I will ask them to dig deep about why they thought about writing in the first place. What  is it about writing that excites them, motivates them to seek more information, and to publicly say why they want to write. Everyone will have a different reason--but it's that reason that will make the difference if they write or not.

I may sit for a half hour tomorrow without anyone showing up. That's OK.

I know why I write . I also know the joy. Hopefully I can share that with others.

What made you first write?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Defining my Normal

I don't usually write two blog posts in one week. But something is nagging at my mind today to write another one. A real one. Not a writer's one. Or a marketing one. But the kind I used to write.

We've been in Florida now since March. I spend much of my time alone, thinking about my life and where the past few years have taken me. My husband turned 60 in August. I'm next. I can't help but count my future years and wonder how I'll fill them.

A few weeks ago, we flew home to PA to say good-bye to my father-in-law. During that week, we sided the home we've been building since the summer of 2013. We were supposed to live there forever and restart our business. Instead, we ran out of money and the jobs dried up over the winter. We got desperate and when my husband heard about work in FL, he jumped. We like to eat and pay our bills too.

So I sit here and think about when I'll live a normal life again. Never in my dreams did I imagine I'd not be in my own home at age 60, surrounded by close friends, attending a church I love and watching my grandchildren grow. Not once.

But God did.

I try to accept that this life in Naples is the new normal for me. Saving to finish our home. Creating friendships with people who have totally different lives than I do. Trying to find where I fit in.Trusting God to lead me along in this newness. Taking my hand and tugging me in the right directions when I want to run home, despite having the means to do it. Oh yes, I want to run home--to familiarity, to friends, to my house full of memories, to the future I once envisioned.

But how many other people planned for a specific future and didn't get it? My brother-in-law lost his life when he was in his early 40s, leaving behind two children and a widow. I'm sure they envisioned a different life than the one they were handed. A good friend got cancer. Another woman lost her husband to Alzheimer's.

Maybe that's my mistake. Thinking I knew what normal is.

So for today my new normal  is defined as moving around the country, building memories with my husband, and watching how God will use us in each setting. That's how I'm going to fill my remaining years. Living God's normal.

Have you been living under a description of normal you've created for yourself?