Friday, October 11, 2013

Anatomy of a Writing Career - Quarter 1

Licensed Photo by Digital Storm
One of the things I hear again and again from new (and even seasoned) writers in our genre is the inability to gauge where you are versus where everyone else is on their career path. What is normal? What is successful? When should you worry? When should you celebrate? Can you ever slow down and take a breath?

Anyway, lots of confusion, lots of competition, but not a lot of concrete information to compare your own experiences with. So I thought it might be both fun and interesting to track the steps of a completely new M/M author for one year.

I chose S.C. Wynne as my guinea pig. You may have heard of her. Probably not. And that's really the point. S.C. is funny, smart and talented. She is disciplined and driven to succeed. Are those things enough? Well, we shall see over the coming months.

For our first interview with S.C. we're just going to set our baseline, as it were. Ask a few basic questions and get some advice from readers and authors alike that S.C. can put into practice -- or not. And then we can view the results. By next quarter we should even have some actual sales figures.

So here we go!


S.C. Wynne started writing m/m in 2013 and did look back once. She wanted to say that because it seems everyone’s bio says they never looked back and, well, S.C. Wynne is all about the joke. She loves writing m/m and her characters are usually a little jaded, funny and ultimately redeemed through love.

S.C loves red wine, margaritas and 7 and 7s. Yes, apparently S.C. Wynne is incredibly thirsty. S.C. Wynne loves the rain and should really live in Seattle, but instead has landed in sunny, sunny, unbelievably sunny California. Writing is the best profession she could have chosen because S.C. is a little bit of a control freak. To sit in her pajamas all day and pound the keys of her laptop controlling the every thought and emotion of the characters she invents is a dream come true.

If you’d like to contact S.C. Wynne she is amusing herself on Facebook at all hours of the day. She is blogging here. Her website is under construction here.

 

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS:


 

1 - If you had to describe the type of M/M stories you write in just a few words -- such as in an author tagline -- what would you say? 

Humorous, romantic and light hearted but with a healthy serving of sizzling sex per book.  

2 - Where are you right now in your writing career? Are you writing full-time? How many books are you contracted for (titles and publishers)?

 I’m just beginning. I was fortunate enough to sell the very first m/m story I wrote to Loose Id but I have so much to learn it’s daunting. Writing isn’t just sitting and making up stories. There’s so much more to it and that’s where the challenge is for me. I’m truly the cliché of the writer who lives in her pj’s and doesn’t brush her hair all day. I do brush my teeth religiously for the record. But the promotion side of it is where I struggle. There are so many avenues to promote yourself now it’s sometimes hard to navigate which ones are useful and which ones are a waste of energy and time.

No I am not writing full time. Yet.

 I have two novellas contracted with Loose Id Hard-Ass Is Here coming out October 15, 2013 and Hard-Ass Christmas tentatively slated for December 17, 2013. I also have a short story I sold to Evernight Publishing which is just a little Christmas story called Christmas Crush. 

3 - What are you doing now to prepare for the launch of your first book?

 Taking valium with my Cheerios every morning. No I’m kidding. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit I’m terrified of the unknown. I’ve got my website started, a blog at wordpress.com going and I try to be active on Facebook and Twitter.  

4 - Do you have any idea of what to expect following publication of your first book? What do you hope for? What do you fear?

I have no idea what to expect. I assume it being my first book nothing much will happen. I think I’ll be invisible until people know who the heck S.C. Wynne is. But soon I shall rule the world—oh sorry that’s my other alter ego.

Naturally I hope to have good sales and not be humiliated. If only my mother and neighbors my mother threatens buy my book it could be awkward.

I fear I will not sell any books and or people will be mean to me and say my stories are bad. Is that childish? Well you did ask what I fear and that’s me being serious for once. That was a strain, I feel drained. 

5 - How many hours a day are you able to write? How much time do you currently put into promotion?

I own a business and I work thirteen hour days five days a week. But when it’s slow at work I do write. On my days off if I have edits or a submission deadline I write from the time I get up until around ten o’clock at night. If I have no deadlines to meet I still spend at least three fourths of my days off writing. Fortunately I love writing so it is enjoyable to immerse myself in these stories. This is going to sound corny, but I look forward each day to spending time with these people I’ve created. (Now I sound like I have a God complex.)

 6 - Do you use a Critique Group?

I do. They have been a huge help to me. I can ask them newbie questions and they answer them patiently. They’ve been amazing.

 7 - What do you most enjoy about writing?

Getting to create anything I want. Any story that comes out of this brain can potentially become a book. That’s incredibly fulfilling creatively.


8 - What is the hardest part about writing?

Edits. They are so painful sometimes. Having someone come in and change what you’ve put your heart and soul into is difficult to accept. Thank God you don’t sit next to your editor to do the edits. Can you imagine? There would be screaming and hair pulling, maybe even a black eye or two. To be honest that happens when I’m alone going over my edits.

 9 - What are you working on right now?

I’ve got so many stories going right now it’s stupid really. I have a Cowboy Barista story, a Bodyguard story, a Doctor and a Cop story, one about a guy who loses his partner and learns to love again kind of thing… Oh and I’m about to start a vampire story. I’ve been watching anime and I’m in love with Luka from Uraboku. I must have him.

 10 - Describe where you think you'll be by the time we check in again next quarter?

Hopefully holding a big nice royalty check. They pay quarterly right?
In all seriousness I’m hoping I’ll feel more at peace with what this is all about. I’m so new that the process is intimidating. I’m torn between wanting to look like I know what I’m doing, and not actually knowing what I’m doing. So when we meet again next quarter I hope I’ll be able to look back (for real this time) and be proud of what I’ve accomplished so far.

So readers, any advice for a very new writer just dipping her toes in social media and promotion? Authors, any words of hard won experience for a wet-behind-the-ears rookie?


 

67 comments:

  1. The reason I pick up a book from a new author, is all due to goodreads reviews by people in my News Feed. It's hard to choose what books to read especially if it's not an auto buy author for me. Let's be honest, there are SO many books to choose from in this genre. So I'd recommend ARCs if you have the option to get your book out there with a few reviews before it comes out. Word of mouth is how I learn about all the books I choose, whether it's a great review or rating from someone I have similar taste with, or the MM Romance Group on goodreads has an awesome thread called "looking for a book about...". I LOVE this thread and have found some of my favorite books on this thread based on recs from people if I throw out a topic or trope I'm looking for. Example: looking for a book about... best friends falling in love, or shifter true mate story where one is straight, etc. This is a great way to find a book that you've never heard of before, or is a new author. Just some ideas from a readers POV. The goal, obviously, would become someone's auto buy author, like Josh is, Amy Lane, Mary Calmes, L.B. Gregg, etc are for me. Good Luck!

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    1. Carey, thank you so much for your great advice. So many nuggets of information for a new author to mull over. I just sent a request to the M/M Romance Group on Goodreads per your suggestion. I love all the authors you have on your auto buy too. S.C.

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    2. The M/M Romance Group on GR was the first group i joined to get book recs, but i found it impossible to keep up.

      So instead, I started following Josh's group and that's my main source for finding new authors, especially the "what else are you reading?" thread. It is how i discovered Harper Fox and LB Gregg, for example, who have become auto buys for me.

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    3. I know what you mean KC, I also can't keep up. But I do love to visit certain MM group threads when I need a rec or want someone else to pick something off my toread list :)

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    4. Now that i think of it, they do have the short stories series - Love Has No Boundaries, i guess that would be a way for a new writer to get more people to know about them.

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    5. Thanks for commenting, Carey! Excellent advice. I'm another one who found the GR M/M group overwhelming (although I'm technically still a member). I think it's probably a great resource for a new writer.

      My own GR group is located here:
      https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/34844-q-a-with-josh-lanyon

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    6. KC, that's a good rec about the M/M group's free annual story event. A lot of new (and seasoned) authors participate and it's definitely a great way to get your work noticed. This year, the event started in March with prompts given by group members that authors grabbed, and then stories came out ever day between June-August. I definitely recommend checking it out if a project like that sounds interesting.

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    7. Josh, I am already a member of yours of course :)
      KC, how could I forget about LHNB? This is a fantastic way for me to discover new authors! I would definitely rec checking that out next year, and a lot of fun! One of my favorite authors chose my prompt this year, it's such a great way for authors to get out there and do something fun for their readers. I've added a lot of authors to my to-read list after reading their LHNB stories.

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  2. I agree with Carey that early good reviews are essential. I don't know LooseId's policy on ARCs, but I've started following authors after having received an ARC that I in turn reveiwed positively. I'm not a fb fan (having been hacked on their website), but most of my Twitter feed is authors. I often find new authors when authors I love mention someone new (as here!). Hope it all works for you!

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Susan. I do think it's important for authors to pick and choose what social media venues they're going to frequent. You can't be everywhere -- in fact, you don't WANT to be everywhere coz that's annoying.

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    2. Thank you, Susan. I really should know Loose Id's policy re ARCs but I don't. The book is coming out next week so it may be too late. I'm the opposite. I'm more active on FB than Twitter, although now that I have Hootsuite I should be able to be active on both equally.

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  3. Good thought, Carey. I know LI does send out a few review copies, but not ahead of the release. (At least not when I was writing for them.)

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    1. I won a book from a debut author that I may not have otherwise picked up, and will for sure be looking up this author in the future. So, if not ARCs, giveaways in general, even after release. Basically the more people you can get to read a book ASAP the faster the word of mouth will spread, IMO.

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    2. And giveaways from an established site are great for that.

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  4. Hi Josh,

    As a reader my strongest suggestion to any newbie would be, try to hold back on too much social media promotion. I can only imagine how much you want to get the word out, but this really is a case where less is more. It doesn't take much to turn people off when you start promoting ad nauseam.

    Alternately, one of the best promotions is word of mouth. And since I was the beta reader on S.C.'s Hard-Ass Christmas I am in a position to do that right now. This story has an interesting, well-written storyline, great sex, and was funny all the way through. I think S.C. has the potential for an excellent writing career.

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    1. The bear. I LOVED the bear. :-) I agree, Susan. SC has the makings of an excellent writer. But there are so many variables. It's going to be fascinating to watch.

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    2. Hi Susan, thank you for the kind words! You were so helpful as a beta reader I sincerely appreciate it. You gave me such wonderful feedback.

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    3. Ha ha! The bear LOVED you too, Josh. In fact he's behind you!!

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  5. My first novel came out just over a year ago, so while I’m not certain I know enough to pitch in with sage advice, I am happy to share a little about what I’ve learned so far now that my fourth novel just released. I hope some of it is helpful, SC. ☺

    Social media and marketing:

    I’ve always loved Twitter, and have a lot of friends. It’s a nice place to drop in nuggets of promo, but predominantly it’s still a place I use for relaxation and book recs. It’s also the place where I get the most retweets (or sharing of my promo). The more time I spend there tweeting like I always have (ie: being an idiot, pimping other people’s books that I’ve loved, and posting pictures of beautiful men) the more friends I gather. It’s a cycle that’s mutually beneficial.

    Just beware relentlessly self-pimping on any form social media. It’s boring, and you don’t ‘sound’ boring, so resist that urge, SC. ;)

    I’m too British to self-pimp like a maniac, but I’ve been doing my own comparative sales analysis, and I’m pretty certain that the best promo is word of mouth — keep writing so readers have something new to tell each other about!

    Nerves:

    The whole process is hard on the nerves! That doesn’t stop, but it does get so much easier.

    Worrying about what people think makes you human. There will be some reviews that sting, but they aren’t necessarily mean. They might even be helpful — some of my ‘worst’ ones made me think hard about aspects of my writing, and that wasn’t a bad thing. A wise person told me that a bad review wasn’t a comment on me. It simply meant that particular reader wasn’t my audience, and that they owe me nothing. I don’t know why repeating that to myself helps sometimes, but it really does.

    Remember, very few people open a new book by a new author wanting to find something to hate!

    Good luck!

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    1. Hello Con Riley,
      I love hearing from you at your stage in the game! Congrats on the fourth book.
      I do think Hootsuite will help me be more active on Twitter. Everyone loves it so I need to learn to care as well. And if I can be an idiot on there, well more the better! :)
      I'm HORRIBLE at promoting myself. I hate joining author groups and all anyone is doing is promoting themselves to other authors. I don't understand that. Endless streams all day long from strangers asking you to like their pages and promote their books when you don't even know if they're any good. I have a rep to maintain! Oh wait, no I don't...not yet. :)
      I would much rather interact with readers. Develop a relationship with them. No necking or heavy petting but a nice friendly bond.
      And you are right. There is something to be said for the fact that all people who read your book will not necessarily be your audience.
      Thank you for the encouraging words!

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    2. Thanks, Con! That's all great advice.

      I personally think the single most important thing an author (old or new) can do is consistently produce quality stories.

      The key being "quality" stories. Pumping out a flood of crap has short term benefits, I don't doubt, but quality work will be paying the bills for years to come.

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  6. Since I STILL have not figured out how to use Twitter, I do use Facebook as a way to become familiar with new authors, although recommendations from friends and entries on Goodreads are probably most influential for me. I do let all my friends know if I've read something new that I really like. I agree with the cautions about too much promotion. There was one author who friended me and started basically spamming my page - it seemed every other post was from this person. I have yet to read their book.

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    1. Denise, I could not agree with you more on the spamming issue. Supremely annoying. I don't enjoy using people and I don't enjoy when they use me either. Twitter is fairly simple in a really super complicated way. ;P
      It sounds as if Goodreads is the go to place for recommendations.

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    2. Twitter is probably my least favorite of established social media. That said, my sales always jump when I get on Twitter. So maybe the benefit of Twitter is it hits a slightly different demographic? Not sure. I do know it is key to engage in the social media that you actually enjoy.

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    3. Denise, I am SO tired of being friended by people who begin our "acquaintanceship" by PMing me to check out their Kickstarter campaign or like their page or check out their book. It is an INSTANT turn off.

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  7. Good luck, SC. Word of mouth and a few decent-great reviews are huge. And good pricing. Sounds like you've got the writing/story telling parts down!

    Thank you for being willing to be the 'newbie' guinea pig and allowing us to follow your journey - very brave.

    JP

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    1. Hi jpkenwood, thank you for the kind wishes. I hope I have the writing/story telling down. It's nerve racking.
      I'm so happy Josh picked me to be the "newbie" guinea pig. I hope my story has a happy ending. :)

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    2. Well...here's the thing. However this first year turns out for you, SC, it's only the first year of what will be a long career. So that in itself is a great lesson. So many authors make the mistake of thinking their career lives or dies by one book cover, one review, a lousy month of sales. That's just nonsense. These are just pebbles on the path.

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  8. Newbie advice. Hm.

    1. Cultivate P-A-T-I-E-N-C-E. Unless you win the equivalent of the writerly lotto, it doesn't happen overnight. Your career is a journey. Focus on the adventure, not the destination, or you'll miss the really cool and fun spots along the way.

    2. Recognize that hours spent on social media are hours you aren't investing in new work. Unless your career goals revolve around achieving celebrity/fame, your first priority should be writing, not promotion or hanging out.

    3. Continue growing as an author by focusing on improving craft. Learning the ropes to the business side of things is important, but the temptation to ignore craft and thereby remain locked in place where you are in your content...Not good. Strengthen as a writer *as well as* a businesswoman.

    4. Start a brag book. It's not for anyone else's eyes, just yours. What gives you a happy? Put in your first acceptance letter(s). Emails from readers that make you smile. Reviews that give you a boost. You'll need that brag book, trust me, because crap is coming that will drag you down. Is inevitable.

    5. Start keeping accurate and useful records NOW. I track my income, of course, and use my spreadsheeets to do rough calculation for tax purposes, but I also track how much each of my publishers have earned from my books, total unit sales, and unit sales by vendor. I can trace sales patterns over time. I know where my percentages are likely to be weighted among vendors depending on which publisher a book is releasing with and how that compares to my overall performance. I know which genres readers tend to like and what lengths they prefer from me. That info helps with important decisions going forward. Plus...Four years from now, you don't want to be digging through a stuffed-to-over-flowing file cabinet in order to double-check a contract term. Keep all that crap in one place.

    Boring, I know. Sorry. I'm the practical sort -- barring the zombie unicorn bits, I mean. LOL

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    1. Kari, not boring at all! Very useful ideas. I never thought about being that organized so I would have been the one four years later digging through a pile of papers.

      The brag book is a great idea. Especially the part about it only being for me. Promoting is torture for me, it is not in my nature. But I enjoy the interacting part, just not the "Aren't I amazing?" part.

      Thanks for all your help in the crit group, too! :)

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    2. Excellent advice. It is not possible to do too much planning, too much record keeping, too much...anything.

      And also please, please, please -- if you do not hae legal representation -- at least have someone more experienced look over any contracts you sign.

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    3. Sound advice, Josh. I have Guido look over everything before I sign. :)

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  9. Facebook and Twitter are lost on me (I'm old-ish and I find too much social media baffling). I do, occassionally, remember to check my Goodreads M/M group for recommendations, but...I love publishers' websites. I always sign up for the newsletters from my favorites, including Loose Id, so I hope you are a featured author when your title is released (I check the new releases too). I also check the M/M new releases section of AllRomance.com since I buy the majority of my titles through them.
    I hope you have a good excerpt available. I always read the excerpt of a new title/author and if I like the writing, I buy the book. (If you have a lousy cover, I can usually ignore it.) And if I REALLY like the author, I'll bookmark your website or blog or sign up for your newsletter so I can see what you're coming out with next. I'm loyal to those I love ;-)

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    1. Christie, thanks for all the ideas. I should be under the new releases...I hope! AllRomance.com is somewhere I should check out. I do have an excerpt on my blogg.
      http://scwynne.wordpress.com
      Thank you for your encouraging words!

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    2. Christie, that's great insight. Thank you!

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  10. Hi Josh and S.C., very interesting interview! Thank you! I'm looking forward to read about S.C.'s adventures as a newbie-writer. :-)

    So readers, any advice for a very new writer just dipping her toes in social media and promotion?

    @S.C.: Hm, let me think... :-)

    Develop your author persona like you would a character in a book. Make notes about their personality, what they like and what not, their background (I don't mean that you should make stuff up, just to be sure what you want to share and what not). Depending on your author persona's traits decide upon suitable social media platforms. Example: If you go for the mysterious, reclusive writer persona you want to chose platforms that are made for broadcasting, not for interaction.

    In case of platforms for interaction, acknowledge readers comments or questions. Even if it's just two words. Nobody likes to feel like talking to somebody who just won't take the time. (as I see above you're already doing that^^)

    Make youself visually recognisable on the net. Go about getting an avatar like a logo for brand. Use it everywhere. Take the time to sign up on blogs that you comment on and load up the avatar. It's easier to recognise and recall a picture than a name in a sea of names.
    Regarding your website, blog etc. you want to strive for consitency in the design so the reader knows to connect that place with you. So, repeating colors, style elements, fonts on all the places. (Oh, and talking about fonts: make it as easy for a reader as possible to read the texts on your website or blog.)

    I hope this wasn't overkill. ;-)

    Wish you a good start in your new business!

    Calathea

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    1. Calathea, first off what an great name! :)

      I never thought of keeping track of what persona I was attempting to create. I am just being myself for now. Perhaps I shall become very, very mysterious as time goes on. :)

      Great advice about consistency. It's very important in any business, actually.

      The commenting on comments part is fun. It makes it personal for both parties. I enjoy hearing everyone's suggestions and advice.

      No, it wasn't overkill. I appreciate it greatly! :)

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    2. Calathea, first off what an great name! :)

      Why, thank you! *blushes*

      Regarding the author persona: My thought was that it's easier to make decisions about what to post or where or whith whom to socialize on the net if you're clear about what you're aiming for. But, hey, being yourself might just work like magic. :-D

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  11. Oh, before I forget: (if in any way possible) provide clickable links when you're talking about your book or refering to your website or some such. The reader on the net is lazy (there might be exceptions, but I'm not one of them), make it as easy for them to follow where you point. The second I have to go look up things by myself you lost me. That obviously doesn't hold true for authors that I follow around but for a new to me author it can be the instant I lose interest.

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    1. Yes! Clickable links always. Very good point. As much as possible, make it easy for the reader to find and buy your work.

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    2. I agree! I did mention my blog up above when someone asked about excepts, but wasn't aware of how to make it a link here. I knew I should but I didn't know how. :) My newbie is showing again...

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    3. A quick test revealed: On blogspot you have to use the html-tag to make a clickable link. If you just copy the url into the comment box it will be shown as plain text (which is kind of strange and unusual).

      The code should look like this (without the asterisks)
      <*a href="http://scwynne.wordpress.com">My Blog<*/a>

      The result would be this: My Blog

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    4. Hm, that the linked words 'My Blog' don't show up as they typical underlined blue is probably due to some design settings of Josh's blog. It works, promise! :-))

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    5. Calathea, you just pretty much are awesome. There I said it. :)

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  12. On a side note: I also like Twitter to follow authors. I actually joined Twitter and only use it to follow authors. My friends/family don't even know I have an account ;) it makes it so much easier, at least for me.

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    1. See! I knew there was a reason I hung onto that Twitter account! A lot of readers do really enjoy Twitter.

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    2. With Hootsuite it makes it so easy to do all the social media at once. It is a lifesaver... yes the amazing Josh turned me on to it. :)

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  13. Josh, love this blog idea of tracking the success of a newbie. SC, you certainly are getting a wealth of advice! Here's my two cents:

    1. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint. Many of the promotional things you do will not have an immediate effect on sales, but it's all toward the goal of getting your name and books "out there."

    2. Pace yourself and the release of your books. Building an audience and promoting your books takes time (remember, it's a marathon). If you release too many books too close together you won't have time to build that audience and promote each book.

    3. It is better to do a few things well than to employ a shotgun approach. It takes trial and error to figure out what works for you. Some people love FB; other people hate it. Ditto for Twitter, chat loops. What works for one author won't necessarily work for another.

    4. Measurement is critical. Besides tracking sales, you need to track/measure your promotional efforts. How many hits do you get on your blog? Where are they coming from (Key word searches, FB links? Other websites?) What time of day are people visiting your blog? When are they retweeting you? (Why does that matter? If your audience is online late evening, but you're communicating in the morning, you're not reaching your audience).

    If you're feeling overwhelmed by the promotion, I suggest two books: One is a "short" by Cassandra Carr (an LI author) called Marketing Matters. She offers 10 quick, doable tips. The other is We Are Not Alone by Kristen Lamb. The latter should be the bible of every author.

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    1. Cara, thank you for the book suggestions. I will definitely get those two.

      I agree with the marathon idea. I think quality things take time.

      The idea of tracking the details of blog hits and what time of day etc is very interesting. It never occurred to me you could even dig that deep. :)

      Thank you!

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  14. SC, what is your twitter handle? I'd like to follow your updates, but I can't seem to find it. :( (My one rec is it might be good to add social media icons to your site and blog.)

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    1. Yes, TTG! Absolutely I need to add social media icons to my site and blog. Now to figure out how. :) Fortuately I have a professional doing my website. My twitter handle is SCWynne1 but links would be the way to go. :)

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    2. Great! Just added you. :-) (I recommend adding to your twitter a link to your blog and a short bio. That will help readers quickly understand who you are, and let them click further to learn more.)

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  15. Hi, SC, from a fellow Loose Id author. :) This should be very interesting to follow.

    Advice - I'll say, make sure that your first pro edit is your hardest one - at least in terms of line editing. That was the time I learned out what all my writing weaknesses and bad habits are. I'd had good beta readers for years, who didn't mollycoddle me, but to be edited by a pro for the first time is whole quantum leap up.

    But it should be the worst, because you can learn so much from it. I made a hit list of all the bad stuff (and when I say HIT, I mean a similar word, with an S added to it.) Now I run every submission against that list before I send it in, and all my line edits since have been much lighter.

    Content edits are a lot more unpredictable! :D

    Loose Id do really good royalty statements, broken down by reseller etc, so get all that data into a spreadsheet every month. You can analyse it, make graphs and stuff. :) And it's useful for when tax time comes around. You won't see reseller data for the first few months - Amazon start paying after the first three months, you're always a quarter behind on the figures from them.

    On social media, concentrate on the ones that you like and you "get". If you find it a chore to use it will show. Don't duplicate content across all your sites - use each site for what it's best at,

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    1. I agree. Loose Id does a fantastic job with royalty statements.

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    2. Hi Becky, thank you for your insight! My edits were difficult but a great learning experience. I love my editor, she's very accessible and easy to talk to.

      I will have to brush up on my spreadsheet skills. Hopefully my quickbooks will come in handy.

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  16. Hi S.C. You seem like a fun lady and I wish you well and look forward to reading your progress. Thanks for letting us share your journey.

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    1. Thank you, hambelandjemima! I appreciate the good wishes and that you are along for the ride! :)

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  17. I've only been in the (part-time) writing business for 3 years, but here's a few things I've learned along the way.

    1. I use Goodreads, FaceBook, and my own blog. Of the three, I think Goodreads far outshines the others in terms of generating sales for me. Your mileage may vary.

    2. For the love of God (god, goddess, etc.), whatever you do, don't respond to a negative review. It never helps, you won't change the person's opinion, and if you get in any way confrontational, it can lead to Bad Things. Having said that, the one exception to this is if in your response, you can directly address the reason for the bad review. I had someone ding my editing on my first book, which confused me, since the specific things she pointed out I was certain I had fixed. Turns out she got a copy of my book from Smashwords, and it was the one edition I had missed fixing when I got a late series of edits from one of my Editing Circle Readers. The reviewer appreciated my response, the fact that was I was willing to fix it, and my fairly genial attitude (after I had calmed down from heart-racing bewilderment). But other than that kind of situation -- just don't.

    I like to think that having a few negative reviews is a sign that you haven't astroturfed, which is probably both cynical and naive.

    3. Try doing some guest articles on other author's websites, or on a good review site. It's both writing and promotion!

    4. I regularly check my Amazon reviews, though having said that, I'm not entirely sure why. Validation, I guess.

    5. To add positive feedback to others' suggestions on here, I also setup a spreadsheet (several) to track various statistics, including the various Goodreads.com stats (reviews, ratings, etc.).

    Good luck!

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  18. Hi JB,
    Thank you for taking the time to comment!
    I agree with you a hundred percent, NEVER argue with a negative review. It is that person's opinion and it's their right.
    I really do need to investigate the spreadsheet thing more. :)
    Thanks again for the great advice.

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  19. Hey, Sc and Josh. I'd love to say it's a rose-strewn pathway but Mr Lanyon knows, from the number of my emails with the subject-heading "WAH" or similar, that this is far from the truth, in my experience anyway. Having said that, it's also the best path in the world - in my experience, the only one that can unite your inner and outer life and make you some dosh at the same time! :-D I hope you make lots and lots, and wish you all the very best - Harper x

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    Replies
    1. :-) It is one of the toughest fields in which to earn a living. And one of the most rewarding. :-)

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    2. Thank you, Harper
      Even your advice is beautifully written! :)

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