From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksThis 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:

“- Hi!

– Hey!

-‘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?