This post was inspired by the Writers’ Digest blog column 7 things I’ve learnt so far and written as a guest post for Fabulosity Reads. The column features various authors, who list 7 things they have learnt so far, regarding writing, editing, inspiration, promotion and marketing. Here are some of my favorite ones, along with my notes!
read out your dialogue
Dialogue can be such a challenge. Do it realistically, and everyone will be bored to tears:
-‘What are you doing?
– Erm, nothing much… Just… Give me a moment to finish up what I was typing… Yes, that’s it. Sorry, you were saying?”
When I started writing, my dialogues just didn’t sound … human. They seemed out of place, vague and monotonous; every person sharing the same voice. Browne & King’s Self-editing for Fiction Writing gave me a handy tip: read out loud your dialogues and see how they resonate. Trust me, you will see the difference! Dialogues have to be vibrant and realistic. Also, bear in mind that people talk differently; their words should reflect the person talking.
to sell, you have to market
I really love the story whereby readers find you out of the blue, fall in love with your book and offer you a lucrative contract to read it to them every night, but I doubt it happens too often. The sad truth is that, no matter how much of an artist you are, you need to promote yourself.
Again, moderation is crucial. Kylie Betzner wrote a great post on her blog, titled I Want to Talk About Social Media, She quotes a friend of hers, an aspiring author, who complains that no one reads or listens anymore; people shout in ever louder voices, in order to be heard over the commotion.
One thing I’ve learned from my interaction with you (yes, you, the kind readers of my blog), is that the point of blogging is to connect with like-minded people. I do mention my books, but only when it makes sense, as part of my overall experience as an author. When I want help with my book cover, for example, I ask for it – and I listen to your generous advice. I implement the changes you suggest, and you seem to appreciate that as much as I appreciate your assistance. A lot of you buy my books afterwards, too, for which I’m extremely grateful, but not the main reason why I post.
The secret, I’ve found, is to consider visitors as your best friends and treat them accordingly. You wouldn’t want your mate to pay through the nose for something, and you’d want to share a great price, idea or opportunity you’ve come across. That’s why I always make a point of letting you know when a book will be on discount, so that you don’t end up paying more that you have to (incidentally, don’t buy Pearseus: Rise of the Prince just yet. I’m rewriting it, and the July version has new material – and will be cheaper, once Mad Water is published. On the other hand, the new edition of Pearseus: Schism is now live). I happily promote other people’s books, too, if I’ve enjoyed them. I also give a lot of copies away.
Sometimes, I get multiple followers on a single weekend. Sometimes I get none. I’ve learned not to worry too much about it, focusing on making my writing as good as possible and posting as usual. The thing is, people have a great bullsh!# detector, and can detect a phony from miles away. The solution is not to make your tricks more elaborate, but to be as open and honest as possible.
So, how do you promote, you ask?
reviews and word of mouth are the best promotion
They really are. Reviews mean that people have actually bought the book, read it and decided that they wanted to write a review about it. It gives a positive message and a little nudge to do same wise to all the other potential readers.
Word of mouth is the most effective way to get people to talk about your book and eventually buy it. Therefore, get your friends, family, extended family, long lost cousins and uncles, colleagues and acquaintances a few copies of your book and ask them –politely!- to promote your book to their own acquaintances and long lost aunts.
However, don’t jump the gun here:
don’t start promoting unless you have written at least a couple of books
If you plan on becoming a full time author, you need to get people to know you. Write at least 3 books, while simultaneously networking and building your brand. Then, start promoting your work so that people find a few books under your name and they can judge your style and stories through various books.
If you do this…
…success will come,
even if not overnight. It will probably come at the most unexpected of times, when you have despaired so much that you can’t be bothered about answering the phone or when you haven’t checked your sales on Amazon for the last 6 months. Success will come around the time when you decide to give up in order to become a flee trainer and join the circus.
there is no perfect reader
So what do you do about obnoxious reviews? Simple: some people will love your book, some won’t. Accept that and move on. Also, people will read in your book things that you never thought were there. They’ll love and hate unnoticed aspects. Your books reveal more about you than you’d like. That’s OK, too. You just wrote a story, but somebody will see something completely different.
Critiques, average reviews and some ugly truths can help. Sometimes, we are so in love with our book that we can’t really be an independent and objective judge of our work. If you trust the person offering his/her opinion, consider his/her comments. They might help you figure out what works and what doesn’t, thus enriching and improving your writing.
share all the goodness others have bestowed upon you
So, say you’ve done everything right and you’re now a success. What next?
It’s good karma and brownie points for your future! No matter what, there are people that will have helped you during your writing process. Pass on to others the kindness and generosity you were offered. It’s good for you and it’s good for the struggling author that you used to be –and perhaps still are.
What other tips have you got?
just read ”to name a thing” if there is a short story award this shoud win hands down or at least top three loved it
Thank you so much, Jackie! You’ve made my day 😀
Reblogged this on Books and More.
Excellent points, and I like to think they’re pretty organic from my point of view. There is no magic formula, but an on-going process. 😀
Exactly, that’s a great way of putting it! Thanks 🙂
Great post and links, Nicholas, thanks. The comments are very helpful too. I agree with you about reading dialogue aloud. It definitely lets you pick up on whether or not the conversation will come across as natural or contrived to the reader. I’m reblogging this if that’s okay.
Of course, I’d love it if you did! Thank you!! 🙂
Reblogged this on The Writers' Workshop Blog and commented:
Very helpful post about writing, publishing and promoting your books. Included are links to some great advice about self-editing and social media. Many thanks to Nicholas C. Rossis for sharing this.
Maybe I’ll try becoming a flea whisperer. The psychiatric training might come in handy. I agree with your points although I think one of the issues is a self-definition of success. Creating a book, and publishing it and getting it (potentially) into the hands of readers is a success. Financial and numbers results are a different matter. Thanks Nicholas
Lol – a flea whisperer is a great idea. 😀
I completely agree with your point. Plus, success has an ever-shifting definition. When I first published, I defined it as having even a single stranger pick up my book. Now that I’ve sold/given away almost 10,000 books in total, I define it as making a living out of my writing – a goal that’s still rather elusive at the moment. 🙂
I’m reminded of that Buddhist saying; “change comes from within.” It looks like (the feeling of) success does, too.
Reblogged this on kyrosmagica and commented:
Reblog of Writing-Promoting and Publishing from Nicholas C. Rossis.
Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
Some useful advice about Writing, Promoting and Publishing from Nicholas C Rossis.
That really does cover a lot of what I would say. In regards to blogging and social media marketing, it’s interesting how different sites bring out different tactics. With Facebook and Twitter, I’m pretty much all books because I have nothing else to take about in such a tiny window. Yet I can go on about anything with my blog and bring up aspects of my book, but within a weekly theme if there’s a connection. There’s more freedom in a blog and I definitely feel like it’s ‘my world’ unlike being on a public posting board with FB and Twitter.
Only other piece of advice I would give to a new author is to do what is comfortable for you in terms of marketing. I have yet to meet an author who got every tactic to work or agreed with everything. For example, I’m always told to make my first book ‘Perma-Free’. I don’t feel it’s right for me, so I don’t do it. Nothing wrong with that, but there should be a sense of comfort and confidence that comes from how you market your book.
Well put, I agree with all your points!
I’m currently debating whether I should make Schism perma-free or not. Perhaps after next week, when the third book is launched, it will be something to seriously consider.
I’ve had very little luck with free periods, so I’m not one to recommend it. It’s one of the big reasons I don’t feel like it’s right for me.
Any time you feel like sharing your experience in a guest post… 😉
Be happy to. Though it might be a few days before I can write anything up. Let me know what you want it in specifically and I’ll work on it as soon as I can.
Why would I want to stifle your creativity? Up to you, my friend! 🙂
Thanks. I’ll see what I come up with.
So I was given some time to write up the guest post. I needed a break from the sun and heat. Where should I send it?
Super, I’m looking forward to reading it! You can either use the comments area on this blog, or email it to email@example.com
I’m glad I read this as one of your points reinforces my own conclusions; that its not really worth promoting until you have something worth promoting ie. more than just one book. I have decided to wait until my trilogy is complete before really concentrating on promotion. It seems from everything I have read that the most successful Indie writers dont get hung up on promotion at all but just keep on writing and publishing whilst maintaining a presence on social media and blogging. That’s what I intend to do.
Well said! “The most successful Indie writers don’t get hung up on promotion at all but just keep on writing and publishing whilst maintaining a presence on social media and blogging” – I couldn’t have put it better myself! Yes, I’m positive that’s the best way to tackle this. Build your platform, but keep your focus. I, for one, will buy your books! 🙂
Why thank you! And I am already reading yours!
Have I told you lately that I love you? 🙂
Rise of The Prince… and enjoying it immensely. Might I say that, although you have classed it as Sci-Fi, it has strong mythological themes, and reads very much like a fantasy. Very clever of you, makes it suitable for a multitude of genre-lovers. I havent checked how you categorised this on Amazon to make the most of this interesting crossover combi thing you got going?
Thank you, you just made my day! I’m actually rewriting it at the moment, to add a couple of extra scenes (don’t worry, the plot stays the same). Just be sure to update the file in a few days!
As a small compensation for any trouble this may have caused you, I hope you’ll allow me to send you a gratis copy of Mad Water.
Now, to your question: I only described Pearseus as sci-fi at the very beginning, then “sci-fi/fantasy”, then “epic fantasy”. I think the latter captures the feel much better, but as you can see I did struggle for a while (it was a comment on the cover by MMJaye that made me realize I had to stop using both).
Branding is supposed to work best if you’re clear as to what your genre is, hence my dropping sci-fi. However, I’ve kept it as a keyword with Amazon, in the hope that crossover/mashup fans will appreciate the combo. Do you think I should have kept it?
I think you want to appeal to as many potential readers as possible! Therefore do what you have to do. There are no rules anymore, apart from doing your utmost to produce a quality product! I think branding it as a work of science fiction which will appeal to fantasy and mythology lovers alike is clear enough. Normally, I would NOT read science fiction but this has the other elements which I love. So you would have lost this reader. How many others might have been lost? If I searched for fantasy and mythology as key words and your book branded as science fiction came up, I probably wouldnt look at it. If I did, I’d ‘look inside’ and find classic science fiction for the opening chapters. So in that sense, just using key words wouldnt be enough. Just sayin… Dont under estimate the fantasy genre… it is less of a niche and has a greater audience than science fiction alone, I believe (can’t remember where I read that, though lol!)
Agreed. Underestimate fantasy? Not at all! If anything, I underestimate sci-fi, since that’s the tag that got dropped… 🙂
Oh shite! Didnt realise you’d dropped it completely! You might want to scoop it back up again! Actually, I am a complete newbie, so you might be better off ignoring my crazed ramblings… although I stand by saying the only rule nowadays is that there are no rules!
Lol – I love your Irish “shite”! We said it that way in Scotland, too. Now I’m nostalgic.
That’s the beauty of it; Indie publishing is so new that we’re all newbies. The best we can do is to listen to each other’s crazed ramblings! 🙂
By the way, I just bought the 4 treasures of Eirean on Smashwords (wicked cover! *Loved* it!)
Ah… I wondered who that was lol! A thousand thank yous! And I sincerely hope you enjoy reading it.