Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Sidestepping Hoopla & Ducking Monkey Wrenches

Sidestepping Hoopla & Ducking Monkey Wrenches

It has now been a week since Breathing on Her Own was released. In the course of this project I have learned a lot….a LOT…about writing, pitching, editing, revising, more editing, more writing, publishing, marketing…well you get the idea.

As I neared my publication date, I discovered I had so many small tasks to take care of, I felt a bit overwhelmed. It’s not that I am a procrastinator. I just didn’t know. I was still learning. You won’t have that excuse. I’m sharing some of what I learned so you can take care of those items early.

1.     Have a headshot ready. I should have been ready for this one. I knew a picture would appear on the back of the book. What I didn’t know was that I needed to have a headshot ready for guest blog posts, flyers, and so forth. I hadn’t yet learned about “branding” and making sure the picture on my Facebook and Twitter accounts was consistent with my “author picture.”

When Cindy Huff interviewed me for her blog “Writers Patchwork,” she asked me for a headshot. I took a “selfie” and sent it on. The next time I saw Cindy she told me that while it worked, I really needed to get a professional headshot.

Headshots can be expensive. You have to pay for the rights to the digital image. That’s why I’m telling you now. Watch for deals. My middle daughter found me a great deal at J.C. Penney’s Portrait studio at a fraction of the cost through Groupon. Go ahead. You are a writer. Get the headshot now and avoid the last minute hoopla later.

2.     Write your bio. You’ll need it long before your book is published. In fact, write several bio’s. (You can even write one for yourself that inspires you to be all you can become… a sort of exercise in self-fulfilling prophecy.)

Draft one for editors and publishers. This one should reflect your credentials. It should accurately portray you, your education, your experience, your publications if you have any, organizations to which you belong, etc.

Draft one for your reading audience. This one was the hardest for me. It is also the one you will use over and over. You will pull out a few sentences from it as a “brief bio” for a guest post you do for someone, recast it for a freelance piece you write, post it on your blog, and eventually put it on the back cover of your book.

Draft your bio now. It will change, but it is much easier to revise one than to start from scratch when you are under pressure. Writing my bio was harder than writing the book.

3.     Put together a ready-to-go interview. +Eddie Jones  from Lighthouse
Publishing of the Carolinas actually came up with this idea. I’m glad I listened. I collected several possible questions over time. While I waited for a series of editing tasks from the publisher, I started creating a ready-to-go interview. I had completed five questions when author Molly Jebbers emailed me and told me she wanted to feature me on her blog the week my book was released. She said to send her five questions with my responses in an interview style and the info about my book release. Yep, exactly what I had written. It came out March 26, the day after Breathing on Her Own was released by Amazon.( )

Thank you, Eddie. I’ve since added questions and responses to my document When asked, I can tailor an interview for the person asking. Of course some people will have their own set of questions, but many are similar to what I’ve already considered.

4.     Put together a ready-to-go guest post. Because I keep this blog going, I am constantly trying new ideas and maintaining a list of possible topics. Some are great for “A Novel Creation,” but others don’t fit with my audience needs.

One such topic had to do with marketing. Actually, my youngest daughter gave a talk one time at a conference and I loved the title. I told her it would be a great title for a post on marketing a book. She gave me permission to use it. I drafted the post, but knew it didn’t really meet the needs of my audience.

In late February, +Tamera Kraft asked if I wanted to do a guest post on her blog, called Word Sharpeners. ( I was ready and “Marketing Your Book is like Flirting, Dating, and Getting Engaged” appeared on her blog on March 12.

5.     As you write, think about your book cover. Go to bookstores or Amazon and look at books in your genre. What draws you to a book? You will be asked about your cover. Your ideas may or may not be used, but you will be asked. Look at colors, textures, and designs. If a scene or event inspires you to write your book, it may well inspire others to read it. Give it some thought.

Do not, under any circumstance, stand with your mouth open saying, “Huh?” when asked if you have any ideas for the cover of your book. Been there. Done that.

6.     When you have a marketing idea, make note of it.  Trust me. You’ll forget. It may be a location you think would be a great place to take photos for a press release, or a person you want to contact to write a review. I would tell you more, but I forgot some of my great ideas along the way. A hard way to learn this one.

7.     Educate yourself about websites and domain names. You don’t have to have everything in place now, but a great way to start is to visit the websites of other authors and decide what you like and don’t like about them. Play with a list of possible domain names. Your first choice may not be available so you need a Plan B (C, D, E, F, G…..) I wound up with two domain names. I chose first. +Jim Fields III, the talented man who built my website, chose .  Both addresses will take you to the site. Educate yourself now. Websites to not appear overnight and the internet is not magic no matter what you think. And have someone with an artistic eye look at your site. My oldest daughter is looking at my site to critique it for me. She’s the same one who put the book trailer together you’ll see on the site.

8.     Open an Author Facebook Page. I’ve had a Facebook account for a long time. I liked the way I could stay connected to people I know who live all over the world. It is actually a pretty good tool for building relationships. I have a Twitter account as well.

Pro shot
Those are fine. In fact, your agent or publisher will ask you about your social media presence. You can join Facebook or Twitter or another social media platform, but don’t wait until you want to get the word out about your book.

What I didn’t have was an Author Page. This is a separate FB page to use for your writing, blogging, connecting with other writers, etc.  It’s easy to set up and invite your friends to “like” you. I had a little over a 100 people who “liked” my author page just before my book came out. I had set it up, but not really cultivated it. I knew I should have it but didn't know what to do with it.

Imagine my surprise when the marketing gal from my publishing house said, “We want you to have 500 likes on your page.” This was followed by, “I’m looking at your page now and it needs work.” There are a few posts out there about what your author page should look like. Nothing definitive. I would love to see a study about the elements an author needs and why. For now, trust me that you probably need an author page, so start it now. Look at several other author pages and see what you like and don’t like.

And while you’re at it…go to and hit the “like” button. I still need quite a few.

Below are the links to buy Breathing on Her Own. And thanks ahead of time for leaving a review for the book on Amazon or Goodreads!


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