NaNoProMo by BadRedHeadMedia is once again upon us! Every year, we like to share this amazing evergreen content with our readers.
Ever wanted to break the writing rules? Barbara Delinsky offers you a great way to do this in NaNoProMo Day 1: “Ways to Break the Writing Rules.”
Below is an excerpt of what you’ll find when you read this amazing post!
Write about what you know. This has always been Rule #1 in novel writing. If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard it, I’d be rich without having to write in the first place. And following this rule makes sense. Writing about what you know brings authenticity to one’s work. Lord knows, it’s certainly easier to write about what you know than what you don’t.
Barbara Delinsky via BadReadHeadMedia.com/nanopromo
But what if you can’t? What if, like me, you’ve already written about everything you know? Or if what you know is so painful that you can’t bear to write about it? Or if what you know is your family, but its members will never speak to you again if you write about them? Of if you’re just plain bored living in your own skin day after day? What to do then?
There seems to be a misunderstanding amongst today’s massive sea of Indie and self-publishing authors. They are more apt to ride the coat tails of a single title or series rather than focusing on building themselves as a brand.
Whether we like it or not, we as authors will most likely not be remembered for a single title. It is imperative we learn this if we wish to be recognized in the industry.
One of the leading gurus I know on this subject is Rachel Thompson. She has some very good points on why authors need to focus on building their brand and not their book titles. I would recommend her blog to anyone struggling to build their platforms.
I’m Not a Brand; I’m An Author
And Apple is just an iPhone. Starbucks is just coffee. Pixar is just known for Frozen and Frozen II. Wait, no they aren’t.
How many times have you seen a well-known author walk around calling themselves by the title of their books? Probably never. For example, we don’t walk up to JK Rowling and say, “Oh you’re the author of Harry Potter!” If you meet her (which if you do, please get an autograph for me too!), you probably greet her by Ms. Rowling and have her sign her book. Why? Because she builds her brand, not her books. Going further, did you ever wonder why Ms. Rowling went under the name of Robert Galbraith before her secret was leaked?
It’s because she wanted to see if people were loyal to her as an author rather than being loyal to her only for Harry Potter.
Stephen King doesn’t tweet about his books or identify himself by a single book but rather tweets about what he’s passionate about and brands his name. More on this later.
If that doesn’t prove a point, I don’t know what will.
Titles Come and Go
Yet another reason why an author should avoid promoting a single title: They come and go as do series. I learned this when promoting Blessing of Luna. I focused so much on making banners, bookmarks, cards, social profiles, you name it on a single title. It wound up being a huge waste of time and resources. When FyreSyde — and now with the opening of Greenwood Grove Booksellers — came I had to repurchase everything I spent hundreds to obtain. Truthfully, I should’ve held the release until I had at least two more titles and knew for sure what my business plan was.
Titles come and titles go but you as the author will remain constant in your personality and approachability. Focus on relating to people as your brand name; it is what readers will bond to and potential readers will buy for.
You’re More Than Your Book
An author platform doesn’t only focus on you as an author. Too often “writers” think all we can do is write about writing. This is not the case. For me, I took Rachel’s advice and focused on five keywords I’m passionate about that don’t focus solely on writing. This offers people a bigger picture of me and less of that of a salesman at their door wanting them to buy buy buy.
Look at the themes of your book. What do you find yourself trying to bring attention to? Are you a mental health advocate? Do you have a deep backstory you want to share or are sympathetic to? Are you trying to bring attention to the effects humanity has on nature? Use those passions to bond with each of those niches. These are all potential readers who will attach to you for being a human being.
To make this personal, I’ve decided to share mine: Gardening, Sustainability, Books, True Crime (yes, I like to study serial killers), and Marketing (there are more but these are the main ones). These keywords take up large amounts of my blog posts and social media posts for those who follow and know me.
You’ve heard this a million times: One of the most powerful tools in building an author platform is to have a blog. It builds credibility and leaves valuable “digital bread crumbs” that can lead people back to your book.
I cannot tell you how many people I’ve coached to start a blog, telling them they will find more people are locating them than if they just blabbed on social media about their books.
Tip: Knowing your passion keywords will alleviate the stress of not knowing what to blog about or to post on social media.
Pro — Tip: Avoid Branding Dilution
In this article, Rachel Thompson (Rachel Thompson) makes a strong argument as to why focusing on promoting a single title is potentially dangerous. New authors become so excited about their book, they create social media profiles based around it. To paraphrase her:
What happens when book two or book three come around? — Rachel Thompson
You might feel like you have to make different profiles for each title or series. To once again draw from Rachel’s article, this is called “brand dilution.” Meaning, readers who found you for book one (or series one) will either have to follow the other profiles or become so flustered they stop reading altogether. I’m no expert but the latter doesn’t seem too great.
Getting stuck managing multiple profiles for the same series can cause horrendous stress and thus “dead” profiles and abandoned accounts.
If you find you are struggling with branding, I highly recommend any of Rachel’s books. They have been lifesavers on many occasions and her poetry is absolutely beautiful.
It has been an amazing month of incredibly helpful tips. If you haven’t already, be sure to go back through this library of evergreen content guaranteed to help in any stage of your writing.
Regardless of how you publish your books, articles, or blog posts, the secret to being a successful writer is not anything pie in the sky or full of inspirational goo-gah. (Besides, I’m not the kind of person to spray glittery sunshine up your you know what, so here’s the real deal.)
Here’s the big secret. Ready? Grab your pens. Don’t Be Lazy. That’s it. Let me deconstruct this a bit. Pull up a chair.
Make It Happen
You. Yes, you. Stop looking around. I’ve worked with writers in all kinds of ways since hmmm, gosh, 2009-ish. Ten years of observing that unique species of human we refer to as, writer. I’m a writer myself (six books released so far , been in a few anthologies, two new books on deck for this year), so I fully comprehend the challenges of balancing writing, marketing, the day job, real life, chronic pain, mental health, and single parenting. Completely and totally get it. There isn’t room in any of those roles to be lazy if we’re being #TruthBomb honest here. Yet, in my ten years of working directly with writers, I can count on one hand the writers who are get-out-of-my-way go-getters. Not the kind who will eat you for lunch with some fava beans and a nice chianti. I mean those who actively set aside time for writing AND marketing AND promoting strategically — not creepy, spammy, ‘must take a shower after seeing this’ ways. Nope, I mean those who treat their publishing career as a business, not a hobby where they lollygag around on social media arguing politics or talking about writing their book, then hope and pray someone eventually buys it.
Rachel Thompson, author of the 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge
Editors are there to make your writing look cleaner and more professional The hard truth is, unless you are willing to do some of your own, it can be hard to market your book.
This has become such a problem, especially with indie and self-published authors. So often, we see manuscripts that have not been looked at by a beta reader or read by another to spot preliminary problems. It can and most likely will result in an automatic rejection.
We require our authors to have their manuscripts read at least twice before they even submit to us.
Editors can be expensive, we know this, however, there are other ways to have editing done or get your manuscript cleaned up. Beta readers, critique partners and friends who have some editing experience can also help.
The point is, there is indeed, no excuse for good editing.
Why IS Good Editing Good Marketing?
You’ve probably heard at least one fellow writer claim that s/he doesn’t have to worry about spelling or grammar or even plot-holes because, once the book is accepted by a publisher, the editor will fix any errors. Maybe that was true before typewriters were invented, but it wasn’t true when my agent was sending my first novel out to publishers 27 years ago. The hard truth is that, unless you’re already a bestseller or a major celebrity with an established audience, no agent or editor will even look at your book unless it’s already well written and well-edited. In traditional publishing, agents and editors are marketers: agents “sell” manuscripts to editors, who “sell” the books to the rest of the editorial staff before making the author an offer to publish. (Once the book is published, the bookstores, not the publishers, are the ones that literally sell the books to readers.) Agents and editors simply don’t have time to edit a book, especially not for unproven authors. And if you self-publish, your readers will expect your work to have the same quality editing that traditionally published books have. That means whether you’re looking for agent representation, submitting directly to publishers, or planning to self-publish, anyone who reads your book has to be completely engaged by your story, has to like your writing, and should never notice that there’s anything that needs to be changed, i.e., edited. Good editing is essential for all books, but there are lots of different kinds of editing, only some of which is done by traditional publishers.
Dr. Alexandria Szeman, Why Good Editing Is Good Marketing
Day 27 of NaNoProMo (founded by Rachel Thompson) is all about titles and why they make such an impact on book sales, courtesy of Barbara Delinsky.
Your novel is done and you’re ready to start hyping characters and plot on social media, which is the current marketing tool of choice, right? Only in part. Social media is important. Same with building hype with blog endorsements. Before you get to those, though, you need a good title. Studies suggest that the average reader makes a book-buying decision in less than three minutes based largely title and cover. Okay, the recommendation of a friend (or Reese Witherspoon) helps, or, if you’ve published before and have a devoted following, they may snap up your book on the weight of your name alone. A gripping plot description on the book jacket helps, but only if the shopper actually opts to read this summary. How to make that happen? How to get the reader to actually pick up your book and take a closer look?
Book bloggers are crucial to the writing community. They offer their reviews free of charge (in most cases) and are willing to often take more than they can handle.
However, there is a right and a wrong way to work with book bloggers. Unfortunately many receive backlash for their honest reviews.
Thankfully, NaNoProMo day 25 (founded by Rachel Thompson) brings a book blogger to the table. In her article, Donna Huber offers details how to communicate properly with book bloggers.
Make Friends With Book Bloggers One of the top questions I hear from authors when discussing book discoverability and marketing is “What can I do that doesn’t cost a lot of money?”
My Response Is Always: Make Friends With Bloggers
Unfortunately, I see way too many authors only using bloggers as review generators and failing to make any kind of personal connection with them beyond the review pitch. Bloggers are an awesome resource to have in your toolbox, but one too many authors do not properly know how to incorporate this tactic into their marketing plans. As more and more bloggers close to review requests, it is important for authors to find new ways to leverage the impact a blogger can have on a book’s success. I have a number of publishers and publicists that contact me about traditionally published books. I can almost always tell when an email is from the traditional side of publishing from the first few lines. It is subtle, but it sets them apart from the indie and self-published pitches. Pitches from traditional publishing rarely begin with a request for review. Bloggers are pretty smart and already know that if an author/publisher/publicist is contacting them, they are hoping for a review.
Donna Huber, How to Work With Book Bloggers (By a Book Blogger)
Marketing. We talk about it so much and find so much on the internet but still new authors struggle with how to go about it. It’s intimidating, horrifying and can, at times, be confusing.
NaNoProMo day 30 (founded by Rachel Thompson) offers a great roadmap on how authors can go about their marketing. Beth Barany shares some steps you can take to make marketing your book a bit less daunting.
Why Market Our Books?
We writers want to be read. Otherwise, why would we publish our work? Well, it is so gratifying to hold the book and see it on the shelf. But it’s the readers’ joy in reading is what it’s all about. Otherwise, why publish?
To be read, we must market our books. How to do that can be overwhelming and feel like a big black box you can’t open because: There are so many choices out there on how to market There is so much advice on the “right” way to market that clashes — confusing! and You may be afraid to actually to do the work because of well, many reasons. (I’ll address this aspect more below.) To bring some clarity and offer an overview roadmap, let’s start by defining our terms.
Beth Barany, How to Create a Book Marketing Roadmap
Day 23 of NaNoProMo offers insight on how to get your name spread across the internet for other than just marketing your book. Marketing yourself is the most crucial part of the author platform.
For example, FyreSyde does more than preach books. We add evergreen content that can be used by virtually everyone. We also submit guest posts to various blogs and submit stories to literary magazines on our off-time (when we have it).
“We are like Hansel and Gretel, leaving bread crumbs of our personal information everywhere we travel through the digital woods.”…Gary Kovacs
The last few months have been rather surreal workwise and I will share a Latest News & Updates post soon but there’s something that has been on my mind the last few weeks surrounding my LAGOM Book. We’re now up to 17 language editions (!) and I thought I just spotted a Ukrainian version recently on Instagram? I still haven’t found the right words to express the gratitude I feel for catching this wave at the right moment when it crested. But I digress… The number one question I get surrounding the book is how I got a major publisher. People are curious about my proposal and pitching process. How did I land that specific publisher? Do I have an agent? (No, by the way). How did I get on their radar? Especially people who are coming across my work for the first time, or have lived in Sweden much longer than my eight years here.
Lolá Akinmade Åkerström, Tips: How to Leave Digital Breadcrumbs
Day 22 of NaNoProMo (created by Rachel Thomson) offers more insight on how to develop your author platform. Again, we here at FyreSyde believe in building a platform much earlier than when you hold your book in your hand.
There is nothing worse than doing all the things to have a well-written, edited, fantastic book that completely flops when you launch it. That’s all of our biggest fears as writers, right? Okay, creatives have a lot of fears, but this one: “What if nobody buys my book?” is at the top of the list.
Many writers think the hardest part about publishing a book is the writing, the editing, and all of the steps to produce and publish a high-quality book.
You might get sick of hearing it but around here, we like to say “Authors are our largest support network.” This is very true but here is something to bolster your author network to expand your reach further than you can imagine.
It might come as a shock but you are more than an author. (dramatic gasp) You have hobbies, interests, areas of expertise, travel experience, parenting, your day job. The list goes on and on.
The major problem FyreSyde sees nowadays is authors have this uncanny thought that all they are or have to talk about is being an author.
Dr. J has a great way you can get away from this way of thinking in her article for NaNoProMo Day 18 (created by Rachel Thomson).
As always, we give you an insider scoop at an excerpt:
Some people are unaware I grew up on a farm. I took part in crop planting and harvesting when I wasn’t feeding and watering animals. I translate lessons from farming to authoring because there is a lot in common, like seasons. You plan and prepare, plant the seeds, grow the product, harvest and when it’s ready, you share with the world. So, which was I talking about, farming or writing? By understanding the similarities, it helps me show how to make author network connections with five easy elements.
What Is Networking? Networking is when you interact with individuals to exchange information and grow professional or social contacts.
As I worked on the farm, I learned that you succeeded when you were connected to the people with whom you worked. These included other farmers and their families, farm agencies, institutions that supported our work, and the consumers who used our product. I needed to understand how they all fit together as I do with author networking.
Dr. J Author, How to Make Author Networking Connections with Five Easy Elements
You hear this all the time. As an author you are a brand. Do not fall into the trip trap of thinking you are nothing but a book title. Too often, we hear stories about authors who give off the feelings that they don’t care about their readers because all they do is talk about them and their book.
As an author you are a brand
This is not the way to do this. It’s why today’s NaNoProMo (created by Rachel Thomson) is so powerful it gave us chills.
Charli Mills gets real in a post showing why credibility is so crucial in maintaining a strong brand. She gets real about her struggles she’s encountered during her journey of being a military spouse. As a former Army wife and husband team, we can relate to these struggles.
Excerpt from Charli’s Article:
In October of 1983, my husband jumped into a war zone known as Urgent Fury. As far as battles go, the one for Grenada barely registers. In fact, the US government declares 1983 as part of a “non-combat” era. However, the reputation of my husband’s elite unit of US Army Rangers earns him respect regardless of where he served.
He volunteered for the Army in 1981, volunteered for Airborne school, and volunteered for the Rangers. He had to pass three phases and accept an assignment to a Ranger unit. He also qualified as a combat diver and managed his unit’s Zodiacs. He emphasizes that he volunteered for service and dangerous duty, something he’s fiercely proud of achieving. But it’s made for a rocky after-service life.
Not only did my husband bash his knee on that Grenada jump, but he also struck his head twice. Just a week before, he took a hit to the head that knocked him out. None of these incidents warranted a Ranger seeking medical attention and wouldn’t be worth mentioning decades later had it not been for puzzling changes in his cognition. He’s needed a total knee replacement for 35 years. As he aged, chronic pain aggravated combat PTSD, the kind rooted in survivor’s guilt and anger – the fuel a soldier is taught to use but not neutralize. While seeking VA treatment, we discovered an alarming loss of processing ability linked to long-term effects of subconcussive hits.
Here we are again (still a bit behind) but hey we promised to deliver NaNoProMo (created by Rachel Thomson) and come heck or high water, we are.
Today is something special. Here at FyreSyde, we know nothing is more important than learning to delegate. As human beings who carry jobs, have kids, go to school and somehow still find time to write, finding someone to help can mean a world of difference.
Emilie Rabitoy brings to you how important it can be to have an author assistant. Read the full article about it here.
Have a juicy excerpt:
When it comes to hiring an author assistant, it can be difficult to know where to start. The possibilities are sometimes limitless, so it’s hard for an author to know which tasks they should hand off to their assistant or which they should continue to do on their own.
One of the first things I ask my clients is if there is any task just they cannot stand, or feel is necessary but don’t have the time or skills to do. These are absolutely the most important tasks to give to your assistant, because either they currently aren’t getting done at all, or aren’t getting done very well.
The most important part of the relationship between an author and their assistant is communication, so finding a style that works for both parties is crucial. Though many writers don’t feel they can afford an assistant, they’d be surprised by how reasonable the cost is.
Think about a spiderweb. The intricacies of the design where threads reach out and appear to grab and lead the eye towards the middle of the web.
This is the way you should think when you’re building your author website. Your social media (Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube, Business cards, bookmarks, you get the idea) serve as those tiny threads. At the center should be your website. You want to lead your potential viewers to your little hobbit hole on the internet.
Day 19 of NaNoProMo (created by Rachel Thomson) offers ways you can do just that. BookWorks wrote a magnificent article on what it takes to draw attention to your website.
The Insider’s Guide to Author Websites: Set Your Foundation
An author website is the foundation upon which you build your platform. We asked BookWork’s Web Lead, Tyler Doornbos, to share his insider’s perspective on what that should entail…
(Adapted from The Self-Publisher’s Ultimate Resource Guidecreated by BookWorks founder Betty Kelly Sargent and Joel Friedlander, “The Book Designer,” and winner of the 2017 Silver IPPY in Reference Book category) At this point, you’ve heard the endless refrain: you need a website. Probably for years now. I won’t reiterate it. It feels a little 2008 to even be mentioning it. What’s worth mentioning, however, is what your website needs. The independent author sphere is saturated with bad design and marketing—from unintentionally hilarious book covers to websites that look like refugees from the wreckage of Geocities—and you don’t want to add to it. But it goes much deeper than that. Design isn’t just how your website looks, but what it does (to very loosely paraphrase Steve Jobs), and you have to do more than just have something out there. It needs to be as remarkable as your book.
Here we go again with the whole marketing thing. Heck yes! Marketing is scary, intimidating and is so easy to lose so much money if one doesn’t follow a…wait for it……PLAN! We know, we’ve done it with some our earlier titles.
Well, one of our favorite gurus, Frances Caballo has just the cure to the marketing blues as part of NaNoProMo (created by Rachel Thomson) Day 13. Check out Ms. Caballo’s article for some really good advice on how to prepare for book marketing.
Juicy excerpt alert:
Book marketing involves so many steps. When people come to me, they erroneously think that all they need is social media marketing.
Social media alone won’t cause your books to start flying off the proverbial bookshelf. So, take this quiz and see if you’re ready to tackle book marketing on your own.
Frances Caballo, author of Social Media Just for Writers
Find more about Frances Caballo at her links below:
Marketing can be daunting if you don’t know what you’re doing. Trust us, we’ve been there. We know how you feel. Breaking it down into a marketing plan can help ease some of strain, especially for Indie and self-published authors. Here’s the kicker, bashing people over the brain with “buy my book” tweets is NOT the way to go.
Often times, as authors, we forget that our readers are people too. As part of NaNoProMo (created by Rachel Thomson), Maureen Joyce Connolly offers ways to make your marketing plan successful. Check out the full article here:
And to get you interested:
The very core of my approach was to learn as much about launching a book as quickly as possible, to compile a strategy and to execute it with support if I needed, but for me to be the driver of my plan. I also understood instinctively, that I would need to identify my personal strengths and use them to my advantage since I had no social media presence – nada, zip – as my business had flourished via referrals. In the social media arena, I wasn’t starting from the ground floor; I was starting in the basement. But I have a bulldozer work ethic and creativity. Two killer strengths.
Maureen Joyce Connolly, author of Little Lovely Things