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 Judge contests: books and unpublished manuscripts.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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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Time Magazine, [Circle of Danger] ". . . involves deadly assassins, drug lords and doing it."