Have you started writing your first book? Are you thinking about writing a book? Well, hot damn. That’s fantastic. Start writing. Plain and simple. While you’re writing your fantastic bestselling novel, there are some things you should be doing to make your writing better and hopefully; help you land an agent or set yourself up for a successful self-publishing career.
1. SOCIAL MEDIA, BLOGS, AND WEBSITES
I can hear the wails now. ‘Why do I have to get on social media? I just want to write a book, not a blog. What the hell, I have to build a website?’ Yes, eventually you must do these things. Nowadays, agents and publishers look at what new authors can bring to the table. Gone are the days of publishers building the author’s brand. You’re responsible for your author brand. Don’t wait until your book is complete to start building your author platform. Read Jane Friedman’s blog post on Building a Platform to Land a Book Deal: Why It Often Fails. You’re not building your platform/brand to sell books. You want to build relationships. This will translate into a much more successful long term career. By starting this now, when your book is complete, you’ll have people you’ve developed a relationship with who will be invested in you and will hopefully buy your book.So, what social media should you be using? Start with Twitter. Follow authors you like. Follow agents that represent authors who write in your genre. Engage with people, retweet others content. Don’t make it about you. Remember you want to use social media to build relationships. Don’t tweet about me, me, me. People do not want to hear all about you.Pinterest—As you get closer to releasing your book, either by traditional publishing or self-publishing, this can be a great marketing tool. Facebook—Read up on Facebook for authors. When you have decided where you want your writing to go, then you’ll have a better idea of how to approach Facebook. Instagram—I’m just now learning about Instagram and using it for my author branding.
Blogs—As for a blog; you don’t have to start one now. However, you should consider starting one soon. Jane Friedman’s—How to Start Blogging: A Definitive Guide for Authors will explain why blogging is important for authors. Blogging not only gets you out there, put it helps people connect with you. You can gear your blog to whatever you want. I set mine up to help new authors. I try to relay information that will help with their writing, save them time, headaches, and money. If you don’t feel comfortable starting your blog, find places like Being Author and submit a guest blog post to them. All these things will help build your author platform/brand.
WEBSITES: You do not need a website of your own to start this endeavor. Wait until you have decided where you want to take your writing. Ultimately, if you decide you want to have your books published you should have an author website. You can combine this with your blog. Almost all the providers allow for a minimal free website. You can play around with them and see what you like best. Joanna Penn has a great article on author websites.
My only advice, pay attention to what you put out there. Everything you do on social media will reflect on your author brand. Don’t get into arguments on any social media platform. You will never win, and it will remain out there forever.
2. JOIN A WRITING GROUP
Not only will you meet other authors, but you’ll also have a built-in support system. In my writing group, each month, we critique someone’s writing. You submit a few pages and then everyone tells you what they liked, didn’t like, where they think you can improve. I found myself stuck in a chapter and emailed it to someone in the group, the immediate feedback and help were fantastic. I found my group on Meetup.
3. GO TO WRITING CONFERENCES
You don’t have to go the most expensive conference on the other side of the planet. Check out your area. In Oklahoma City, we have small writing conferences all over the place. I attend the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation Inc (OWFI) conference yearly. These conferences have industry leaders, agents, publishers, and editors there and they are accessible. At the last conference, I met three editors. I asked each of them if they would review three chapters of my book and give me some idea of where I was at as a writer and what kind of editor would benefit me in the future. Each did it for free. Each did three different chapters.
Hand in hand with conferences is joining a writer’s group like OWFI. There is the Romance Writers of America or the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. There is probably a writers group for every genre. These groups run contests, hold conferences and online workshops. It is usually very little to join and the benefits far out way that minimal cost.
Yes, Read. Read books by authors who write in your genre. Read other genres. Read the bestselling authors and see how they do it. Follow them on your social media outlets. Connect with them, see what they’re reading. Find blog posts about writing. I read a lot that Jane Friedman posts. Frances Caballo’s website has great posts daily. You don’t have to read just books. Read about the writing process and ways to make you a better writer.
5. Write Regularly:
Sounds too easy huh? If you’re serious about writing a novel, you’re going to need to set aside daily writing times. If not daily, because shit happens, you should be writing several times a week. I don’t care if you write standing, sitting at a desk, or sitting in a recliner (that’s me) just write. If you have kids like I do, write when they’re at school and late at night. If you work, figure out a daily time to sit down and write. Then don’t do anything else for that hour or however long you’ve blocked out. Don’t get on your social media, don’t answer emails or pin stuff on Pinterest. When you sit down to write, write. DO NOTHING ELSE.Don’t get bogged down in the little stuff. It’s not rocket science; but if you want to be a serious author/writer, you’re going to have to put in the time and effort. It’s very rewarding and very demanding at the same time.It all starts in one place, though, writing. NOW GO WRITE.
This post is contributed as Guest post by Victoria M. Patton.
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