Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Publishing Missteps: Three Big Mistakes I'd Like to Do Over

When I first self-published my novel, SHADOWS IN THE MIST, I made a few missteps that taught me some lessons. First, I waited too long to contact book reviewers like Library Journal, Midwest Book Review, and local newspapers. My book was due to release in September, and I waited until about six weeks prior to contact book reviewers. I learned from reading their guidelines that they require books to be submitted for review SIX MONTHS before the release date. So I launched my book without any reviews to help it off the ground. If you are self-publishing, be thinking six to eight months ahead of your release date. Contact as many reviewers as you can. Here are a couple links for book reviewers.

Another misstep I made was I came across a marketing company advertising they had a program called "The Bestseller Program." They offered consulting on how to make your book a "Bestseller." I paid a $1,000 for a couple of phone consultations that didn't really offer me much. First thing they told me was they couldn't guarantee my book would become a bestseller, so the program was misleading. Now that I've been in the publishing business awhile, I know that no one can predict if a book by a first-time author is going to be a bestseller. I ended up wasting $1,000 I could have put into advertising or bought a nice suit and some new shoes. So, authors beware of book marketing companies that promise you're book will be a bestseller.

My last misstep was I waited till six months after my book's release to get involved with social media groups such as Redroom and other popular sites like Facebook and Twitter. I wasn't much of a social networker and saw them as a waste of time. After hearing numerous success stories from other people marketing through social media, I finally jumped on the bandwagon. And saw a huge spike in book sales. Now, I've connected with hundreds of book lovers, writers, and book reviewers through social networking and I'm having a blast doing it. Had I known the benefits of social media marketing a year before my book's release, I could have built up some buzz and had readers ready to buy my book the day it released. When I release my next novel, DEAD OF WINTER, I'll be able to email a few thousand people prior to the book launch. Live and learn.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Do What You Love and The Money Will Come ... Eventually

A student I met online wrote:

Dear Mr. Moreland, I am curious about being a published author and what my chances are at being successful. My teacher says, "Do what you love and the money will come." Would you as a writer agree with that statement and say it is true?

I agree with your teacher, "do what you love and the money will come," eventually. Just know that being an author is a lot more than just writing fiction or non-fiction books. There's a whole business to it. I spend several hours each week focused on marketing, blogging, and writing the next book. It's a job where you do a lot of work up front and the rewards pay off later, in dividends. But I love being an author and that's why I'm willing to do the work.

Most book writers I know, including myself, have a backup career that pays the bills while we write books. Bestselling author James Rollins, for instance, was veterinarian. Stephen King started out as a high school teacher. David Morrell and Gary Braver are writing professors at universities. My "day job" is working as a freelance video editor, editing documentaries and corporate videos. I write in between video projects or early in the morning, (5:00 a.m. - 8:00 a.m). If you write enough books, and one or more of them become bestsellers or made into movies, then authors can earn enough to write full time and be paid millions for the books they put out. Just ask Stephanie Meyer of the Twilight series if her royalty checks cover her living expenses. Authors such as Stephen King, Nora Roberts, James Patterson, and Jim Butcher have achieved the ultimate dream of turning their writing into financial success. Not every writer who publishes a book achieves this, but it's certainly possible. I'm willing to guess that every successful author has two things in common: persistence and belief in their writing. They never give up and they keep believing what they are writing adds value to people's lives.

I also know a lot of writers who build a solid career around being a writer, like public speaking, publishing blogs, teaching seminars, teaching at universities, technical writing, copy writing, script writing, editing manuscripts, proofreading, journalism, writing magazine articles, etc. There are countless ways you can make money as a writer. All you have to do is find your niche--what you love to write most--and see if there is a career you can build around that.

So, again I say, if you love writing, if you have a strong enough passion to put in all the hours it takes to be successful, then definitely follow your dream. You don't have to be a celebrity author to make a steady living in this business. Just keep believing and keep writing. And keep your "day job" until those royalty checks finally start arriving in the mail.

Special thanks to Tyler K. from Facebook. I love receiving questions from aspiring writers and posting answers here on my blog. If you have a question about writing, publishing, or marketing, feel free to email I receive a lot of these, so I'll get to it as quick as I can. Brian