Instead, work like heck to have the writing career he has. I have spent quite a bit of time lately reading books by authors (John Locke, Michael Hicks) on “how they sold x amount of books in x amount of time.” It’s hard not to be envious of their success, but what struck me with those books (the exception being MR Mathias) is how light these books were on real action steps. Sure, there were some general tips, but when it came to actually executing things, the authors pulled back (for various reasons) and didn’t get into specifics. But JA Konrath has shared his wealth of knowledge over the years, getting into the nuts and bolts of how he became a successful, selling author. Some of his points are dated, but many are still valuable today.
Write, Write, Write
It seems such a simple point, but JA Konrath, Michael Hicks, John Locke, and M.R. Mathais all have numerous books available. Why? For one thing, more books means more chance for sales, just in sheer numbers. But there is a bigger reason, one I am experiencing first-hand.
I just got a great review from Easily Mused, for my mystery, This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies. The reviewer, Tomara, said she would definitely want to read the next book in the series! Flattering, but think if I had five or ten more Reed Ferguson mystery books available…think I’d sell a few more? Konrath, Locke and the others get this. So don’t stop at writing just one or two books. Keep cranking them out.
And lest we forget this point, make sure your writing is good, if not great. Don’t publish something with a bad story, poor writing, spelling errors, layout issues, typos and so on. You only hurt yourself in the long run.
Promote, Promote, Promote
Again, this seems obvious, but most authors don’t really grasp this concept. Oh, you think you do – you set up a blog, you get a Twitter account, maybe you set up a Facebook fan page, and you think you’re done. The fans will come to you and start buying your books, right? Wrong!
JA Konrath talks repeatedly about how much he promoted himself when he was a newbie author. He spent about seventy percent of his time promoting himself. Seventy percent! He always made sure to stop by book stores and sign his books, he set up author signings, he attended conferences, and on and on. In this day and age, authors can’t do that (or don’t have that option if they are self-published) but here’s what they can, and should, do.
Twitter, Facebook, and More
Set up that Twitter account but gather a following. You have to do the work here! Set up a Facebook fan page, and a landing page! I know, Facebook gets a bad rap. It can be a pain to use. But its potential to sell your books is too great an opportunity to miss. If you want help with this, talk to me. Check out my fan page and see what I’m doing there (link). I’ve learned from some experts and my following is growing daily, and so are my book sales.
Also, take the time to comment on other author’s fan pages. Yes, this helps them, but it helps you, too! Why? Because everyone who sees the comment sees you, the author. And there will be those curious fans out there who will visit your page. Another invaluable way to promote yourself.
Get on Goodreads, consider Google +, and other social media sites. Not only that, just like with Facebook, take the time to be an active presence within those sites. That is how you are going to make yourself known. Don’t expect the fans to come to you, you have to go find them. That’s what JA Konrath, MR Mathias, Michael Hicks, John Locke, and others did.
With other authors. It’s not about competition. It’s about support, and opening up doors. When you help others, they are more willing to help you. And this opens up doors to readers for you. It sounds cruel, but in Twitter, if I follow an author and they thank me for following them, but they don’t follow me back…guess what I do? Unfollow them! If someone doesn’t get the basic concept of helping each other out, they are not worth my following them. Same thing on Facebook. I have a lot of authors who like my page, and I do the same for them. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s basic marketing. Following them opens doors for me. Again, if you have questions about this, contact me.
Spend A Little Money
Pay to have your manuscript edited before you publish it. Pay for a quality cover. Pay to go to a writer’s conference, so you can rub elbows with authors, agents, and editors. You will learn so much…the benefits outweigh the cost enormously. Pay to take some marketing classes or how-to series for Twitter, Facebook, and so on. These things can be written off as expenses, but they are valuable to your success. Don’t get cheap at the expense of your career. If you’re not willing to spend the money, spend the time to educate yourself in these areas. You won’t regret it.
Keep At It
Don’t give up. Your time will come, but you have to play the game. Connect with me, and let me know if I can help you in any way. There are plenty of readers for all of us. Let’s find them!
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