Monday, May 18, 2015

What is expected from a published author?

The other day, a friend of mine, newly published, was shocked to learn of all the things expected from her. She said, "Why didn't anyone tell me?"

Well, we did. But in the middle of struggling to become published, we concentrate so hard on the story and submission process, we forget to listen to the other stuff. I know I didn't listen.

So in case you're in the process of being published (writing, submitting, etc.), keep in the mind the following. Let me know if I missed anything. And of course, it's a list. Love them! *sing-song voice*

10. Judge contests: books and unpublished manuscripts.

For me, after so many years entering contests, I felt it was important to give back by pitching in. I had to say that I've learned just as much as I taught. And hopefully, I was helpful and kind in my comments. I do know I was always lenient in my scoring. HATED to give less than 80 out of 100 for any manuscript and rarely did. The person did write the story from the heart. Don't we all? 

9. Giveaways

Lordy! I learned so much about giveaways. Of course, what works for one doesn't necessarily work for another. Giving away gift cards are helpful for international fans (mailing books are expensive), but will not guarantee they'll buy your book. Giving away your book will most likely guarantee it will sit in the horrible TBR pile. (Check out my feelings about that here.) This month, I'm doing a big giveaway of an iPad Mini. Be sure to go here to find out more. Everyone has to read CIRCLE OF DEFIANCE to have a chance to win. I'll let you know later how it works. Thanks to Kelley at Smut Book Junkie for giving me the idea during her presentation.

8. Swag

Boy, oh, boy, you can spend SO MUCH MONEY in swag. Seeing your name on a book is totally exciting, but adding pens, cups, and so on can be wonderful too. Yet, the return (readers) is so low. Lynn Ray Harris said something to me the other day that is so true. Buy swag to give to your fans as a thank you. So I've decided pens and my favorite (and inexpensive) car cup-holder coasters are the only freebies to anyone. The really nice stuff (bags, dolls, shirts, cups, etc.) will be given to my fans.

7. Ads

Up until this year, I've done a few ads. I've decided to do more and see if it helps with my name recognition. We all know that we have to see a name (or brand) at least three to five times to become interested. Only then we'll get curious enough to spend money. So I'll let you know.

6. Website and blogging

For myself, I do my own website. Presently, you certainly can tell. As time has gone along, and I have more books and information to place on it, it has become messy. Time to revamp, but I'm still writing my book and one more to write this year. So I plan to redo the website in December. If a miracle happens and I have some money, I might pay someone else. It's my blog that I enjoy working with the most. My little way of communicating with the masses. Of course, there is social networking (see number 2 in a minute), but really, if a person hasn't signed up for Facebook or Twitter, they won't see what I have to say. Did you know that Google+ had more users than Facebook? No matter what people want you to believe, they are not the be all, end all. Other countries have their own social networks. You didn't know that? Oh, yes. Check it out here. While most everyone, in any country, can look at blogs.

5. Book signings

Love to do book signings, but they're sometimes a lonely affair at book stores. So it's best to have author friends there too. Need someone to talk to besides family and friends. Unless you're like me and have neither show up. *Violin playing* The best book signings are at conferences and conventions. Then you have a captive audience you could say. But don't be surprised if you sell only two or three books. Now if you're giving the books away, that's a whole different ball of wax. You might have to grab a few people walking by (if you don't have a sign saying "FREE BOOKS"), but they'll be gone in no time. The books will then sit in a TBR pile. (Go back and look at number 9.)

4. Conferences, conventions and luncheons

They are fun. Love going, but they take time away from writing and cost lots of money. A good tax deduction. But I've decided if I can't provide a workshop or be on a panel or do a book signing, I will most likely not go. Just some miscellaneous opinions: RWA National is great for networking; RT Booklovers is the best for Authors and getting their name out there; Moonlight and Magnolias (Georgia RWA) is my favorite conference. So much fun. I love going to luncheons. Though often the people who sit at my table don't know me from Adam's housecat, I feel there is a chance one of them will be curious about my books. Be sure to fill your basket (most luncheons require you to bring one to raffle off) with the best of goodies and overflowing. It can cost you anywhere from $50 to $200, but will be worth it. Make an impression while you can. Looking successful impresses readers. If they believe you're making good money off your books (even if you're not), your books then have value -- worth reading -- but always be friendly and SMILE BIG.

3. Libraries

I wanted to make sure everyone understood the importance of our local libraries. When you're at the library, who do you ask what's good to read? The librarian, of course! Libraries are important places for our books to get recognition. Most readers will buy copies to save and read again after reading it at the library. Or they can't wait until the newest shows up there and go out and buy it. Donate a few. Bring them all the swag you collect from all of those conferences, conventions and luncheons. Be sure some of your own swag is in it. And be sure to leave some of the good swag in it too. They will love you and remember you. Make sure you make time for them. If they ask you to participate in a program, do it! This is how your community finds out what you do for a living (or at least hope to do for a living).

2. Social networking

Really, I can't tell you how much this part of being a writer can be such a time suck, but a necessary evil. Yes. I know some of you LOVE Facebook or LOVE Twitter. Just make sure you're not spending hours on it, playing games, watching cat videos, etc. Be entertaining without wasting your valuable time. I would suggest once in the morning for thirty minutes to click likes, make comments and post one or two statuses, and then get away. You can even connect your Twitter account to Facebook. Multitask.​ In the evening, do one or two more statuses, likes, etc. and then off. You can answer comments and click likes the next morning. Keep it to a small amount of time. And NEVER PLAY GAMES!

1. Write the book(s)

Really, do I have to explain this?

Be sure to check out Carla's month long contest. You might win an iPad Mini!  Click here.

Carla Swafford loves romance novels, action/adventure movies and men, and her books reflect that. She has three romantic suspense novels with Avon Red and recently sold a hot motorcycle club series to Loveswept. She's married to her high school sweetheart and lives in Alabama.

Look for me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, & Google+
Time Magazine, [Circle of Danger] ". . . involves deadly assassins, drug lords and doing it."


Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Hard to get to Number 1 with all the other. Sigh

Ali Hubbard said...

I learned a lot in your post. Thank you so much!

It's amazing how this industry is. And how it continues to change. But, yes, the days of writing books and letting others "handle" everything else seem to be long gone.

One piece of advice I received (and took to heart) is to focus on the things you do well, but still stretch yourself with the other things. I have severe social anxiety, especially around new people or in a new location (terrible combination when it's new people IN a new location). So, maybe some of the social aspects would not be my strongest. Does that mean I will avoid them? No. But I will choose sensibly and not overload myself.

I also love your advice about conferences. I learned sooo much from the 2 RWA conferences I attended, and wish I could go every year. But, is RT a better fit for my career since I'm self-publishing? I've never been and it is daunting. Next year I'll have one book out. Is it better to wait for the whole series to be out before going? I don't know.

One thing I'm very comfortable with is judging contests. I LOVE it. And actually worry if I may be more "editor" than "writer." ;-) It happens.

Heather said...

It is so easy to let items 2-10 dominate the time necessary for number 1. Do you have any time management tips to balance all the responsibilities a writer faces?

Carla Swafford said...

So true, R. Mac Wheeler. :-)

Carla Swafford said...

RT can certainly be overwhelming. They have a lot programs set up for self-published authors, but until you have two or more books, you might want to hold off. Unless you plan to go as a reader. Then you could get the lay of the land without the pressure. :-)

Carla Swafford said...

Heather, I do what I've heard so many authors say, set a certain time of day to write and do nothing else. For you, that would be hard as your hours are so fluid. So decide "One hour a day, no matter the time of day, I'll write."

It's amazing how much you can get done when you press yourself. I know it helps me. For those days your brain is fried, edit or plot or make notes of what you want to write the next day. Train your brain to want to write.

Suzanne Johnson said...

Here here (or is it hear hear?) Well, jolly good, then. You forgot the absolute, positive need for a Harry Potter Time-Turner so you can do all that stuff and still get #1 done.

Carla Swafford said...

Suzanne, you are the one lady I know that comes the closest to doing all of that. LOL!

Carla Swafford said...

And I forgot to add in my list videos! Such as book trailers, author readings, skits, etc.

Ali Hubbard said...

That's right! Videos and little teasers. I have those on my list of "to learn." lolol.

It's funny you mention going to RT as a reader to scope things out. I do that so much...a little social recon. Or arrive half an hour early and just observe to acclimate myself.

It's weird that I don't have this anxiety when it's work related. It's just when it's me representing me. lol. I guess my mind's not really "me" if I'm representing my job. I'm the job. And if I want to go to RT or anywhere else, I'll need to take some more jobs. lololol

Nancee Cain said...

I heart you so bad. You ground me. And as an author about to be published, folks can tell you, but it's like learning to ride a bike. Get on there, fall off, cry a little if needed and then get back on and scream with joy when you finally get your balance!

Cari Hislop said...

It's a terrifying list! ;) There's SO much I need to do actually DO! Heavy sigh! Being talented at ignoring the hard parts of life, I focused on your comment about free books ending up in To Be Read piles. I'm so delusional it never occurred to me that my stories might be gathering fictional dust on someone's Kindle or iPhone waiting to be read. With hindsight...there must be quite a few of my books stuck in the dead zone.

I do have a TBR pile of paper books, though it's not very large. I sometimes buy paper books I'm not in the mood to read now, but know I'll one day wake up and need to devour. As for e-books I usually read them shortly after they land into my machinery (either that or they get deleted).

As for giving away "free" books... As a reader I've spent a lot of money the last few years on authors I discovered through free books. If I'd saved the money I'd probably be able to buy a plane ticket to see my family - maybe next year! :)