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Posts Tagged ‘Goodreads’

I'm A Writer

I’m A Writer

I’m a writer, but I’m also a business person. My writing is a creative process that results in a tangible product that can be bought and sold. I am the CEO of my career, if I want one. It doesn’t matter whether or not I have a publisher, editor, agent, or pr manager, the buck stops with me. As a consumer of books, I already know that readers hold me ultimately responsible for the product I put out there, and are judging my value as a writer with each and every book I write. That’s a lot of pressure!

 

One of the things writers learn very quickly is that we are also responsible for getting the word out about ourselves and our work. Readers want to know about us, and many like connecting with the writers whose work they’ve come to enjoy. That’s very cool. But as great as that is, we also need to connect with other writers and industry professionals on a regular basis. Writing is lonely work, so when we reach out and meet others who are as invested in this business as we are, we learn and grow as individuals and as professionals. That’s where social media is a tremendous boon. In fact, it is an important tool for anyone in business.

 

The ability to easily and cheaply connect with others who share our likes and concerns on a global platform is something entrepreneurs have never been able to dream of before. By forming meaningful relationships via social media, we enhance our ability to do more than sell a product or service. We enable relationships of various levels to grow. Consumers can easily connect with providers and build the necessary trust levels that help a business grow and develop over the long term. This is no different for writers who take their work seriously.

 

Over the course of the past several years I’ve been writing, I’ve made some terrific connections via social media venues such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. Other industry professional’s blog posts have proven to be tremendous sources of information and resource for me. Each of these on-line resources provides its own unique brand of communication.

 

For example, LinkedIn is used primarily for businesses, but there are a ton of LinkedIn groups dedicated to writers and readers. No matter what your business industry is, you can share ideas, concerns, industry related news, etc. In fact, through LinkedIn I was connected by a podcast host, Adam Scull, of Eat, Sleep, Write, who invited me to participate in a podcast interview. Adam’s podcast is dedicated to writers and readers, and since its inception, has grown by leaps and bounds. Not only did I enjoy the experience of doing my first podcast interview with Adam, but it allowed me to experience an entirely new medium of communication I’d never heard of, let alone dreamed of contributing to.

 

I hear so many people denigrate Facebook, but if used correctly, it’s a fabulous tool for staying and keeping connected. It’s also a great medium for building relationships with others who share your interests in business, and reach new consumers. I’ve “met” some incredibly talented people on Facebook who are writers, publishers, readers, editors, playwrites, etc. Now, I’m very judicious when I accept people to Facebook. I don’t accept everyone who requests it. I make a point of visiting their own pages before deciding whether or not they are the kind of people I’d like to connect with. People like Jonathan Gunson, Christina Hamlett, Joanna Penn, and others who are avidly involved with my chosen career of writing bring so much depth and knowledge that I just don’t have yet. Their generosity in sharing their experiences, industry information, and ground-breaking industry news makes my life easier, and more interesting. On a personal level, these industry connections help me realize that we’re all in the same boat, battling the same issues, and learning from one another. The funny jokes, inspirational quotes, and personal touches help make writing feel less isolating. We are part of a community. And that’s the crux of the matter. In business, any business, you need to reach out beyond your product or service and become part of your immediate and global community. Human beings generally crave connectivity, and social networks enable this on a grand scale.

 

Beware of Pitfalls!

Beware of Pitfalls!

But there are pitfalls that many people fail to see before it’s too late, even with something as “harmless” as social media. I can’t begin to count the number of times I’ve seen a posting by someone, family, friend, or industry professional, that is just plain offensive, rude, or unprofessional. I remember reading something a while back that stated you should never post anything on social media that you, literally, wouldn’t mind the world reading about on the front page of your local newspaper. If you are in business, you don’t want your followers gaining a poor opinion of you because you posted a picture of yourself drunk and disorderly on Facebook. On LinkedIn, the expectation is that members will comport themselves in a business-like manner and not be offensive, confrontational, or rude. On Twitter, the same holds true. You are what you write and post.

 

As a business person, you want to be sure that the message you are putting out there on social media reflects the image you want others to have of you and your product or service. It’s so easy to screw it up with one or two really ill-advised posts, tweets, or comments. Remember, these venues all just provide brief snapshots of who you are, so you’re going to be judged, rightly or wrongly, by what you put out there. A good rule of thumb is to have two Facebook accounts, one for personal, meaning family and friends, and one for business. This keeps the two areas of your life a little tidier, and hopefully lessens the chances of a poor image of you.

 

Blogs are terrific for a number of reasons. I read other blogs because they share information I don’t have, or I resonate with the message they are putting out there. Through blogs I’ve discovered more blogs, other writers, and industry information websites that are really useful in helping me grow my knowledge base and craft. That’s important to me. I now follow a number of blogs regularly, and although I may not read every single blog daily, I do read at least one a day. I’ll comment on posts that I’ve enjoyed, and share my own opinions. Remember, writing is lonely, so it’s nice to have a virtual gathering place to express and share ideas and information.

 

Writing a regular blog takes me about 1- 2 hours every two weeks, depending on research etc. If you want to develop a blob for your business, great, but make sure the content continues to remain regular and consistent. I hate it when I visit a new website or blog, only to find the content is out of date or months old. You have to give people a reason to visit you again. If you’re a boring host, you won’t have many visitors. Of course this takes time, but it’s time well invested. More and more companies are realizing the benefits of building a community of followers who are interested in learning more about them, their industry, how-to’s, etc. When something new is happening within your company or industry, you can share it with your followers, and become a trusted ‘expert” in your field. Blogs also invite readers to participate by posting comments, which in turn invites others to likewise share and contribute. This sharing of ideas quickly builds a community of people who all share an interest in your topic. For businesses, it doesn’t get much better than this.

 

Twitter is great for sharing short blasts of information and ideas. It’s a fun way to keep in touch with others who share common interests, and allows business entrepreneurs to share new information or updates on their products and services. A tweet about a book launch goes around the world in seconds, and is completely free, as are all these other e-venues. The ability to attach a link, photo, or video makes sharing this type of information incredibly easy. What a great business tool! But again, be careful what you share. People are watching and judging you by the content you choose to share.

 

Goodreads is an amazing place to share information, book reviews, and participate in discussions on books with writers and readers. You can post and read reviews of books, and discover new writers in any genre. You can connect with writers directly, ask questions, participate in virtual book clubs, and indulge your love of the literary world to your heart’s content. I’ve discovered some incredibly talented new and seasoned writers through this site, and have been thrilled to receive some really wonderful, thoughtful reviews of my own work. For a writer, Goodreads is an invaluable tool not to be overlooked.

 

But do you have to spend copious amounts of time on social networks in order to connect and share your information? No. On average, you only need about ½ an hour to an hour total to dip into each of these areas daily, review what’s being said on each of them, share, comment, or like just a few, and move on. Be forewarned though, it’s easy to get drawn in and distracted, and writers are notoriously easy to distract. By setting scheduled time limits for each networking activity, it can be easily managed. If after your real work is done and you want to go back and “visit” again, go for it and have fun.

 

Never fear

Never fear

Rather than fear social networking, by embracing it in a professional, realistic way, I’ve discovered a whole new world of people whose work and opinions I’ve come to respect and enjoy. Hopefully, they feel the same about some of what I share as well. Being able to communicate on a global stage, instantaneously, is a lot of fun, but it comes with responsibility. I encourage people to join the on-line communities, but please, be respectful.

 

I always welcome comments and would love to hear your thoughts on social media for business and for pleasure. If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it with your circles. Thank you.

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Goodbye Emily

Book Review:

Well, I’m impressed! I just finished reading Goodbye Emily a few days ago, and it had me in tears. Told from the perspective of Walter, “Sparky” Ellington, Goodbye Emily takes the reader on a roadtrip back to the summer of 1969, Yasgur’s Farm, and Woodstock, the home of peace, love, and rock ‘n roll! But more than that, it’s the story of one man’s attempt to make sense out of today, dealing with heart-breaking loss, and friendships not to be forgotten.

Congratulations to author, Michael Murphy, on doing all the things a good writer sets out to do; evoke different emotions from the reader throughout the story, and allow them to connect to the characters. At times I chuckled, laughed, and cried, but it also made me think about many aspects of life and the choices we all make. This story reminded me that you’re never too old to start something new, and the importance of friendships.

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Hear ye! Hear ye!

Hear ye! Hear ye!

That is the question, especially if you are a reader and are looking to provide valuable feedback, support, or to help the author raise awareness of their work. If you are a writer, you already know how important reviews are to you and your work. If you aren’t sure, read on.

 

Before I became a writer I had no idea that reviews were so important to a writer. I mean really, I just read a book, and if I liked it I told my family and friends. I didn’t contact the writer and tell them I’d enjoyed their book, and I certainly didn’t even think about going onto Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Kobo to post a review. I’d never heard of Goodreads, Smashwords, or the scores of other reader/writer websites that have sprung up on the net. Why would I? I was blissfully ignorant in the ways of the publishing and writing world.

 

All that changed when I decided to pen my own novel. Suddenly I wanted and needed to learn all I could about this new venture. I never considered it a hobby. I always knew that one day I’d write, and that when I did, I’d give it my all. That’s when I started reading about the importance of reviews. Of course I’d read the reviews posted about top selling writers and their newest work, and sometimes I’d even read those reviews so beautifully and glowingly featured in the book’s first pages or back cover, but I figured the only ones that counted were the ones from the New York Times Best Seller List, or other highly acclaimed and sought after literary professionals and authors. I was no professional reviewer or famous author, so why would what I had to say matter to anyone?

 

The more I read, the more I began to understand, and appreciate, just how much my own little words of support and feedback really could impact a book and it’s potential sales. I realized that the writers really did value reader’s reviews, perhaps more than those oft quoted literary luminaries. I was a real person, who hadn’t been paid anything to purchase the book, read it, and comment on whether I liked or didn’t like it. It doesn’t get more real or grass roots than that, and that’s pretty cool, I think.

 

That’s not to say the other, paid for reviews, such as Kirkus Reviews, don’t matter. They do, and they hold a lot of sway within the industry. But so do ordinary reader’s reviews and comments. As a writer, I can’t tell you how excited I am when someone reads my book, then takes the time to let me know what they thought of it. Of course I love the five star reviews, who doesn’t, but even the ones that come in with three and four stars have value and merit. Those reviews point to potential areas where I may want to tighten things up or give consideration to. All feedback is valuable; you just have to decide what to do with it.

 

Reviews are especially helpful for other readers though. Personally, I always check out the reviews of a new book or author, to get a good overall feel for the story and writer. That doesn’t mean I go by reviews only though. It’s just another way for me to ascertain whether or not I think a book is of interest to me and worth my hard-earned money. In that vein, reviews are extremely valuable to writers and other readers. Honest, carefully written reviews are worth their weight in gold when it comes to selling books, whether ebooks or print. That’s why virtually every online book retailer clearly provides readers with the means and access to provide an honest review of books they’ve read. Some, like Amazon, even go so far as to email their customers a few weeks after purchase to ask how they liked the book and provide a direct link to write a short review.

 

In talking to family, friends, and book signing attendees about reviews, many express the fear that they don’t know how to write a review. They think there must be some grand, magical, or special literary talent you have to have to do so. I remind them that all other readers and writers want is an honest opinion of their reading experience with the book. It doesn’t have to be lengthy. It can be as short as, “I really liked it”. Ideally though, a book review should address three things: whether you liked the book, or didn’t, what you liked/didn’t like, and why. An example of this might be, “I really enjoyed this book because it made me laugh and think about subjects I hadn’t considered before,” or “I didn’t enjoy this book because the characters didn’t seem very realistic, so I couldn’t connect with them.”. Reviews are subjective, meaning each person is going to either like or not like it based on their own internal set of criteria, and that’s perfectly fine. When a book starts gathering more reviews and ratings, patterns begin to emerge, so that potential new readers can see what the “general consensus” is about the book. 

Book ratingThen there’s the rating. Rating is a system whereby there are five “stars”, and each star has a rate. On Amazon, one star is for “I hate it”, two stars for “I don’t like it”, three stars for “It’s okay”, four stars for “I like it”, and five stars for “I love it”. This break down will translate very closely to other sites rating systems, so don’t worry about having to learn a bunch of new systems. To be fair to other readers and the author, if you are going to take the time to rate a book, please also write a short review in the “Share your opinion” section. Without the comment, no one will understand why you gave it the rating you did. This can even be done anonymously, if you’d rather not have anyone know who you are. A few of my readers have done this, and I respect their privacy, while appreciating their time and feedback.

 

Getting lost in the stack

Getting lost in the stack

The final reason reviews are so important is because it affects how easily a book is found among literally thousands of other books in the same genre. You can’t imagine how frustrating it is to have written a book that people are responding well to, but because it doesn’t have enough reviews and/or rankings, it’s virtually impossible to find by potential new readers who might enjoy it and are just doing a generic search. Without those important reviews and rankings, your book falls to the bottom of the list and at the end of countless pages of other books.

 

So, as you can see, reviews (and rankings) are extremely important. Not just to writers, but to other readers as well. Once I started providing brief reviews of books I was reading, I found it not only easy, but enjoyable as well. It was my small way of thanking the writer for penning a good book and entertaining me, or teaching me something I didn’t know before. Other than the five minutes it takes me to write a quick, thoughtful review, it doesn’t cost me a thing, but I know it’s value.

 

What are you reading right now? Have you ever written a review, and if so, what did you take away from the experience. If not, what’s stopping you.

 

Your comments and feedback are important, so please also feel free to comment below.

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merry go roundI’m a huge believer in “what goes around, comes around”. This holds true for me in my personal life and in business. Of course I expect to be paid for my work, but I don’t always expect something in return for small things I do for others. For me, this is more an acknowledgement that the universe (or God, or Fate, what have you) is set up this way. I truly believe you get out of life what you are willing to put into it. I also know that human nature is generally one of selfishness. We have to put food on the table, a roof over our heads, and pay our bills, but when we step outside ourselves and do something to help another person, purely because we can, then we benefit as well. This benefit most definitely may not be monetary, but it makes us feel better about ourselves, our own lives, and our capacity of effect change for other people.

 

As much as I admire huge accomplishments, like those performed by such luminaries as Oprah Winfrey, the Gates family, and other proponents of social change, I’m equally as impressed by the small, individual acts of kindness and assistance we can all perform in our every day lives.

 

As writers, we reach out with our words to audiences we may never meet. We extend ourselves to hopefully touch the lives of our readers in some manner. It may be for pure entertainment that readers read our stories, articles or blogs, but even that small touch point means something. If we are successful and have done our jobs correctly, each reader takes something personal away from our work. The interpretations of our words and stories are as varied as the people who read them, but that’s the beauty of it. It is completely and utterly subjective.

 

How can I helpThat’s all very well and good, but how can we really pay it forward? How can we go beyond our work, our lives, and ourselves to help others? It’s really so easy. Whenever a writer shares information with another writer via social networking groups or blogs, or stops in their busy day to answer a question posed on one of these forums, we can help other writers. When we attend a book signing, reading, or seminar we’re giving, we help when we answer questions of attendees. The questions may not seem particularly earth-shattering, but to the person posing the question, it’s important. If we take the time to answer the questions thoughtfully and honestly, we may be helping not only the questioner, but others in the audience who were too timid to ask.

 

I’ve always been a questioner. I listen to what’s being said, then I want to know how, where, why, when?  That’s how I build my own conclusions. I’m not always right, and I don’t profess to know and understand all the nuances of any particular subject, but I ask. As a writer, I also read. I read industry related articles in on-line magazines like Forbes and Writer’s Digest. I read other writer’s blogs for the information they have to share, such as Bestseller Labs, and Writing Secrets of 7 Scribes. When I’m front and center and asked a question, I do my best to be honest and forthright, and if I don’t know an answer, I admit it. No shame in that, even in a public appearance where we’re supposed to be the “experts”.

Paying it forward can be as easy as forwarding an email you know would be of interest to others in your circle. Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter have become the ultimate sharing sites, but there are literally tons of others. I share everything from inspirational quotes that might brighten someone’s day, to articles I’ve discovered from another writer or journalist that I think would benefit someone else.

 

What does this gain me for my work, my books? Maybe nothing, but perhaps just one person will be interested enough to look a little further and see what else I have to say, or share. Maybe they’ll Google my name and see that I’ve written a book, or have a blog and website, and check it out. Maybe they won’t be interested, but forward the information along to someone else who might. The truth is, I’ll never know, and I’m good with that. I don’t need to know what’s in it for me every time I do something. There are enough people like that out there, scrabbling in business to make a sale, to undercut the competition, to lure the customer in. It isn’t that I’m above all that, I was in sales for over ten years, so I know how hard it is to earn every dollar. I’m also far from independently wealthy. In fact, my husband and I are pretty monetarily strapped right now, trying to live on his small pension since being downsized out of a huge corporate company after thirty years service (that’s another discussion altogether). We have to watch every penny that comes in and goes out, but I can still do small things that don’t cost me anything but my time.

 Book writingAs writers, we often feel pressured to “produce”. We’re always working on the current WIP, the next project, marketing, promotion, personal appearances, etc. So who has the time to help someone else? Heck, we may be struggling to figure it all out ourselves. I know I am. That’s exactly when it’s important to share what information we have and come across. It doesn’t take a great deal more time to share a timely article you’ve read with followers on Facebook, Twitter, or your blog. As writers, we also know how important ratings and reviews of our work are, so if you’re reading something, take a few moments to post a review and rating! You know how thrilled the other writer will be to hear your comments, and what it means to algorithms (if you don’t you need to learn about this too, then share your findings).

 

In fact, there are so many ways we can “pay it forward” as writers. Don’t worry about what’s in it for you, just get out there and do it. You may be surprised where it leads down the road.

We're off to see the Wizard...

We’re off to see the Wizard…

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Create a To Do List

Create a To Do List

People keep asking me, how do I stay focused and productive every day? Well, each day I begin with a “To Do” list of things I’d like to accomplish. It helps me sort out what I need to do and (hopefully) not get so easily sidetracked. When you work from home in relative silence, getting sidetracked is easily done. There’s always something you could/should be doing around the house, or the weather’s so nice you’d rather be outside doing  just about anything, or someone calls and you’d rather chat, and then there’s the reading. It’s no surprise that writers are also avid readers, so the temptation to just curl up and indulge can be huge.

But I have to work, so after writing out my list, I tackle each task one at a time and check it off my list. It could be as simple as “check and respond to emails”, or “WIP”, which means I need to actually WRITE something on my current book. As things crop up, or I remember them, I add them to the list. What I don’t complete one day, I move over onto the next day’s list. This keeps me semi organized. At least that’s the plan. Usually it works.

A large part of my day lately has had to involve marketing and promotion of my new release. Now, I’d rather just sit and write, or do any of the other thousand things I’d like to do, but if I want to make a career out of this writing gig, and I do, then I need to take it seriously. If I want my book to sell, and if I want to grow my readership, then I have to work at it. I knew going into this writing thing that it would be a lot of work, and I wasn’t disappointed. Good thing I like challenges and don’t mind the hard work. What I don’t like is feeling like I don’t have a clue what I’m doing, what might work, what doesn’t work for me, where to go for resources, who/what/when to connect.

Networking works!

Networking works!

Social media has taken over a large chunk of on-line marketing and promotion, so being relatively active on FaceBook, Goodreads, Twitter is a must, as is having a regular (key is regular) blog and staying top of mind with those who follow you. Your readers and followers might also help spread the word about your work, so an updated, hopefully interesting website with current content is important. That’s it. Simple. Yep, simple, but time-consuming and necessary. If you don’t want to promote your work and are just writing for the sake of writing, then you don’t have to do any of these things, but as in life, if you want to succeed, you have to be willing to put your back into it.

Research is also a large component to promotion and marketing for a new author. After all, you have to know where to go, what the options are, what to do, etc. Thank goodness the internet is a treasure trove of valuable information and websites to learn just about anything and everything you ever needed to know about writing, publishing, networking, promoting and marketing your work (which is separtate from researching things for the story you’re writing). Sites such as The Savvy Book Marketer and Shelley Lieber’s Wordy Woman are terrific resources, as are other authors. Start following authors you admire and reading what they have to say, but don’t be afraid to branch out to new, unknown authors you’ve discovered and following their blogs. Some of the best ideas and suggestions, as well as support, has come from these amazing resources. They’re free, interactive, and allow each writer to explore what works and what doesn’t, while also giving hands-on information on how to’s and links to other sites of interest.

Publications like  Writer Gazette, Publisher’s Lunch, and Writer’s Digest are invaluable in their content for writers of any genre. Use any and all information until you find what works for you, and don’t be afraid to put your own spin on things. After all, you are the master at the helm of your own ship. Steer it where you like, because the beauty is that nothing you do is wrong, it’s all just a learning  journey. Rather than be uptight and worry about whether what I’m doing is the right thing, I just try to have fun with it and do the absolute best I can. If I need to fix something later I can, and if something works particularly well, I’ll use it as much as I feel I need to.

In the midst of all this social networking and on-line research, don’t forget your own backyard though. Explore avenues like local newspapers, for example. I was nervous about contacting my local libraries to see if they’d be interested in my work. I mean, these are libraries for heaven’s sake, and I’m an unknown nobody! I’m not really an agressive sales person, never wanted to be, so this felt like pushing myself on people who may or may not be interested. But I’d committed to doing everthing I could, and that meant putting myself out there, front and centre. I’m fully aware (thanks to my years in real estate, mortgage sales and more recently, incentive marketing, that what I’m really selling out there is me. My books will or won’t stand on their own merit, but I also have to be comfortable and confident enough in myself to stick out my hand and introduce myself. This actually doesn’t come naturally to me. I’m fortunate to have watched my mother and younger sisters do this with great aplomb and success in their own businesses. I just straighten my shoulders and tell myself, ‘If they can do it, I can do it’. And I can.

Shout it out

Shout it out

You see, I’d sent out a “press release” introduction to several local newspapers over a month ago, but none had responded. The success with the local libraries gave me the courage to follow up with two of our larger local newspapers, The Exeter Times Advance, and the Forest Standard/Parkhill Gazette and ask (bold, I know) if they’d be interested in doing an interview with me as a local author. When they each said yes, I was ecstatic! What I’m learning from all this is, first and foremost, I can do this, and second, people just might be more open and receptive than I’d originally thought.

I keep saying this writing thing is teaching me about life; the parallels are always there. It’s also helping me to grow and expand my knowledge on so many fronts, I sometimes have trouble shutting my mind off at night (you know what that’s like). What I know for sure is that I have so much more to learn, and love the experiences, connections and opportunities that keep coming my way. Will it all be sunshine and roses, not likely, but hopefully I will learn something from those too, even if it’s only not to repeat the mistakes. Oh, and I’m also aware of how important it is to just shut it all off and spend time doing the things in my life that are important besides writing and promotion. Things like family, getting outside, taking breaks and sometimes yes, just goofing off for the day and enjoying the moments of sheer freedom. I’m not saying I have it all figured out, but I know balance has to be in play, or I’ll burn out. Today’s a working day, but tomorrow…?

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Cheers!

Cheers!

So, now that I’ve written and had my first book published, drank the congratulatory champagne and danced the victory dance, I’m left to wonder, now what?

Of course I have the WIP to continue, which is work enough, but what about getting the word out there about my book. I mean, much as I’m thrilled with the response from family and friends (and I definitely am), there’s the whole wide world I need to reach out to now. Separate and apart from the writing is the marketing and promotion, a beast unto itself.

Before the release of my book, I did invest quite a bit of time investigating websites, becoming proactive in social networking via FaceBook, but what about Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest? What about requesting honest reviews of readers and asking them to post them on sites such as Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, and so on? What about face-to-face appearances, readings and book signings?

Whoa, this is starting to look like a TON of work, and it is. I read a while back that book marketing and promotion can take up considerable time for an author, because he/she needs to reach out to readers to let them know their book is available for sale. Not only that, but as an author, you want the feedback. ‘Am I on the right track?’ ‘Do people like and respond to my story and characters?’ ‘Do they like me?’

And so it goes. As I mentioned before, writing is a lot like life, and the similarities continue to intrigue me. In order to do well in this world, we need to be willing to risk something of ourselves. We need to be willing to invest in ourselves and trust that at least some others will respond positively to our efforts. Otherwise, why bother? Why put ourselves through the pain and anguish of exposing our deepest hopes and dreams?

storytellingIt’s because we believe we have some talent for storytelling. We believe we have something of value for others to relate to, even if only for entertainment sake. We strike out on this lonely path, and along the way, if we’re lucky, we meet others whose paths merge or intersect with ours. We realize we are not alone, and that they too share the dream. Authors come together, sometimes loosely, and sometimes very tightly knit, to support and encourage.

Ah, but when the reader reaches back and gives praise or useful comment, the writer is blessed. They are validated. They have been heard. The fact that another person has invested his/her time and hard-earned money to purchase your book resonates in a special place within the writer’s heart. It is a warm, sunny space.

 But how to reach the reader, and how to connect with other writers? In my opinion, one step at a time. I recommend researching the options and trying the ones that seem to connect with you. On-line networking has become globally massive, with the potential to connect with more people than ever before, but you have to be willing to participate, and participate with care and professionalism. Still, what works well for one writer may not suit the personality of another, but make no mistake, EVERY writer must put themselves out there and connect on some level.  Even the long-held masters of the craft can’t expect to sit in their writing caves and ignore the outside world for long. Yes, the Work In Progress (WIP) is of paramount importance, but so too is connecting with your audience. Agents and publicity people notwithstanding, readers love to hear from the author directly. They love to ask those burning questions and know that the writer is human.

Now I’m such a newbie, I had no idea how to go about things like press releases and book tours, but I did compose a press release and sent it out to many of the local newspapers. A week ago I was contacted by one of the larger ones and asked if I’d be interested in an interview. Are you kidding me? I was ecstatic! One week to the date of the interview, I purchased several copies of that newspaper and there it was – the cover art of my book, my photo, and the article. A half-page of information about me and my work shone back at me. I learned something from that exercise; ask and ye shall receive. Keep quiet, and no one knows you have something to share.

Another example of something that always works well is word of mouth. When my daughter talked to her local librarian last week, she mentioned my book. The librarian was quite interested in learning of this new (local) author and asked my daughter to have me stop in at the branch and bring along a copy of my book. I was thrilled at the opportunity. It’s no surprise that librarians love and support books, so this was an ideal fit. I had ordered fifty-five copies of my book to sell to family and friends who had asked for a signed copy. Now this librarian said she’d like to purchase and read it. It doesn’t get better than that. A complete stranger wants to read your book and possibly recommend it to others who trust her judgement.

Librarians Rock!

Librarians Rock!

After meeting that first librarian, I then gathered up the courage to contact another librarian at a separate branch and ask if she’d be interested as well. Well lo and behold, that gracious lady immediately jumped on board, asking me to bring her five copies of my book to distribute to other county branches in her area! We chatted when I brought in my books and she asked if I would consider doing a chapter reading, Q & A, and book signing in the Spring. You bet I would!

And so it begins. I’ve now begun contacting the local libraries (we have a lot of them), and have been thrilled with the response. In two days I pre-booked two book readings and sold eight books to libraries. Even though my books are primarily available on e-readers and e-devices, I was pleased to learn that libraries not only promote this venue, but assist patrons with selecting and downloading books they’re interested in. One of our small libraries actually has three e-readers available for loan, to be signed out on a two week basis and returned, exactly like a book! Now that’s being proactive.

As I continue working and networking, I find I’m meeting some amazing people, and I’m learning new things every day. The first draft WIP is almost complete, as I now have people continually asking when the sequel going to be ready. Kind of lights a fire under the butt when you have people clamouring for your next work.

For now I’ll keep working and learning as I go, growing my base and putting down roots. What I know for sure is that this writing gig is what I was meant to do. At long last, after a lifetime of trials and errors, of mountains and valleys, I’ve found something that fills a part of my soul I hadn’t even realized was there. What more could I ask?

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