Monday, January 8, 2007

Don't Wait to Put Your Toe in the Water!


Unpublished writer's toss and turn, worry and fret about finding someone to publish their work. Many struggle with thoughts of self-publishing out of frustration. Getting published is the desirable end of an uphill climb. Or is it?

Finding a publisher is really only the beginning. You have another peak to climb. You get the "golden" acceptance and after your heart stops pounding you sigh, "Now all I have to do is write another good book." Not quite. If you haven't already studied up on promoting, you have a lot of work ahead of you. Promotion is your job too, even if your publisher is at the top of the publishing heap they will expect you to do your part. If you self-publish it is all on you.

What kind of promotion are you willing to do? Will you do school visits, booksignings, television or radio interviews? How far are you willing to travel from home? What kind of program will you present? Stop hyperventilating. I have a few tips on getting started.

Before your book is actually published start writing press releases, bios, blurbs, etc. You don't want to leave everything to the last minute. Thanks to computers you will be able to fill in the details later or make corrections if necessary.

If you don't already have a website one is in order. If you are a total computer illiterate, like me, you can start out with a blog. They are easy to use and free. Look at other writer websites to see what kind of information you might want to include on your site. Even if you have to redo something, try to make it look as professional as possible. Don't leave your mistakes for others to see.

Start making lists of places to send your press releases. List reviewers who might be willing to review your book. Make a list of local newspapers, radio and television stations that may be interested in interviewing you, or just be willing to publish information about your new success. Make a note of the person to contact at each one. You don't want to contact anyone yet, you just want to be prepared.

Now start a list of schools that might be interested in an author visit. Also a list of book stores within a reasonable distance from home. Don't forget supplies! Pens for autographing books. Flyers to hand out. Promotional items. Props for your presentation.

Work at being outgoing. Talk to people about what you do, but don't forget to show an interest in them too. Do they have children, grandchildren, siblings? These people may be future sales contacts. Be positive and upbeat. Smile!

Don't panic! Just like writing you start with "baby steps", but it will be easier if you don't wait until the last minute to put your toe in the water.

(c) 2007 Sharon A. Soffe

4 comments:

Kevin Scott Collier said...

Shari,

Great advice in this column. I really do agree witgh baby steps, or steps period. There are so many writers I know who wrote to me at the end of the year and imagined they were making little progress. All one has to do is look where you were one year ago. Strip away any books released in the past 12 months, reviews, interviews, online or magazine contributions... it's where you were in January 2006. Now... have things progressed? Yes.

If anyone ever feels discouraged as a writer, just look over your shoulder. It will remind you that all the little steps that didn't seem like much have advanced you up the path. You have made progress even if you don't feel it.

If I look back to November 2004, only 26 months ago... my first book had been published, I had no contacts, and my submissions to online magazines were ignored. Two years ago in January 2005 I was rejected by Wee Ones Magazine... now Jen Reed calls on me in a fix. I had yet to illustrate my first children's book. Even Writer's Exchange ePublishers gave me the brush off... now Sandy Cummins will send me a manuscript to draw any time I ask. I was a nobody in Yahoo Groups, surrounded by folks with beefy resumes. Talk about feeling small.

It was hard... and still is... we writers and artists who are dedicated work at this daily. We are committed.

Great column, Shari. It is about steps... even baby steps. They all add up to miles in time... and perhaps even lightyears. There is hope for everyone.

- Kev

Shari Lyle-Soffe said...

Kevin

You are so right! Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and only look back to check your progress. It's all about enjoying and making the most of the journey. It isn't about the end.

With Alyice Edrich said...

So true. I recently heard in a writers' workshop that publishers really do not have the time or funds to promote authors these days. They hate admitting it publicly, but in order to get a publishing deal these days you have to be willing to market and show publishers you can market. I write and sell e-books. When my promoting slows down, so do my sales. It's a fact of business. We all must do our part. Great advice.

Shari Lyle-Soffe said...

Alyice
Thank you for your comment. I don't think enough emphasis is put on the promotion aspects of writing. Many writers think writing is all that will be required of them. That's why I say start learning about promotion before your have to do it. Don't wait until you get published.