As 2015 is coming to an end, I’m reviewing all of the authors and writers and publishers I’ve been able to work with over these past 12 months, and I’m blown away by the many talented artists I’ve met. I’m proud to say we saw over a dozen novels to publication, and even more are on their way. It’s been a great year! So, to celebrate, I thought I would share some of the top tips that came out during this time. A lot of these tips you can find online. In fact, a lot of these tips I’ve written articles about before on this very website. But it can be said again. After all, there are always new writers, new authors, and new ideas to implement when adjusting your business plan. In 2015, I learned some myself, and I helped numerous clients learn some too. Here were the top five from this past year.
1. Writing: Take Notes! This particularly helps when editing rolls around and you need to fact check, but I strongly believe every writer should take notes before, during, and after writing a first draft. It will help you organize your work, and it will help you keep track of changes you’ve made or new turns you’ve taken. These notes can cover larger concepts—like subplots—and they can define the simplest details—like eye color. Sure, a content editor is here to help you, but it’s always best to try to keep everything as factual as you can beforehand. Having the strongest draft possible will ensure you’ll have the strongest product possible at the end of your editing stages.
2. Marketing: Branding: Be you. Branding is vital and highly competitive, but it doesn’t have to be! Remember: You are not competing with others. They are them; you are you. And you are the only “you” out there. Be proud of that! I hear the phrase “but they did this” way too often. Just because someone else is doing something doesn’t mean you should or that it will even work for you.
A. It’s already being done.
B. It might not correlate with your books.
C. If you force it, people can tell. (It’s especially awkward when readers start to figure out who exactly you’re copying.)
Ex. Romance Author A loves reading lifestyle books, healthy eating, and yoga, so she uploads these three things to her pages with appropriate hashtags and related links, sometimes drawing a correlation that being healthy is part of her protagonists’ struggles and/or dreams. Now, Romance Author B. She sees this successful social media outreach and decides to do it too, even though she might not be into those things, nor does it have anything to do with the types of books she writes. (Not that everything has to do with your books, but we’ll get to that in a minute.) Think about what you love, think about what your customers and you could love together, and share those lovable things. People with similar interests will find you and your books.
3. Marketing: Branding: Now that you’re you, be PARTS of you. What do I mean by that? I often see authors and publishers trying to be TOO much. Have some consistency. Choose three to four things you’re really into and mainly post about those things. Of course you can post about whatever you want, but it helps to pick a brand and stick with it. Ex. I post about my cats, coffee, and books I’m reading. I recently added desserts, but I started only sharing desserts that went with coffee. (I slowly worked it in.) On occasion, if I travel, I post some photos, but I’m also really into movies and photography and conspiracy theories and aliens and etc. Sure, I’ll talk about those things every now and then, but if I did it all the time, no one would know what to expect or why they were even following me. I picked a theme, and I stick with it. I even have followers who just follow me because of my cats or followers who just love getting recipes from me. Stop worrying about selling. It’s not about selling. (Ouch, I know.) But it’s true. It’s about genuine connections. Have fun. A great topic I see authors work with is similar books, movies, and fandoms. But there is a thing as “posting too much.” You can overwhelm followers. Plus, you don’t need to be online all the time. You need writing time too.
Take a Little Extra Time to Make Things Just *That* Much Better
The photo on the left is the one I posted to Instagram, Twitter, and FB. The photo on the right is the real deal. 30 seconds can make a HUGE difference. Take that extra step. In this instance, I just cropped and added a filter through Instagram.
4. Editing: Track Stylistic Choices: Editing is often a matter of preference. While some rules are definitely not debatable, many aspects of the English language are. There is more than one correct way to write something, even when using the same rulebook, and it’s important to understand your options and to communicate those options with your editor. Keep track of your stylistic choices. Do you prefer t-shirt to T-shirt? Do you want to use “goodbye” instead of “good-bye”? Do you want to use the new “internet” or the proper “Internet”? Write these down or have your editor keep a stylistic sheet for you. I know I do this for every single one of my clients, especially if the book is part of a series. You want to remain consistent and pick what it best for that particular novel. As a reader, I HATE it when I see “t-shirt” and “T-shirt” on the same page. Granted, I’m an editor, so I’m probably more sensitive than others, but many avid readers know the basics of editing. Consistency is always the key.
5. Marketing: Positivity: Writing is hard. Marketing is hard. Editing is hard. I get it. Trust me. I do. I’ve been doing this for eight years and it’s still hard. I still learn every day, and sometimes, right after I learn something, the algorithms change, and I have to learn everything all over again. It’s tiring, time-consuming, and a never-ending battle. But try to enjoy it. Try to find the fun in it all. Try to love the little amazing moments more than you dwell on the big bad moments. But, most importantly, remain as positive as you can on your professional pages. Don’t get me wrong. It’s okay to be human. I’ve posted about depression before when I lost my publisher at the time. But I was still hopeful and ready to move forward. No one thinks you’re perfect, and you don’t have to pretend to be perfect, but posting curse-filled rants of drama isn’t going to do anyone any favors. A rule I stand by is to think twice before you post something while feeling emotional. Then, step away and think again. Once posted, it can never be deleted forever. Overall, the more you practice positivity—whether inwardly or outwardly—the less you’ll feel drained and/or overwhelmed. The more you’ll enjoy it. You want your pages to be a safe and happy environment for you and your connections. Have a zero-tolerance policy for bullies and trolls, and stay focused on having a great time with your readers.
I hope you’ve enjoyed these five tips! If you have some, feel free to share! Let’s end 2015 on a great note, so we can start 2016 on an even better one.