For Writers: Post Publication

I am traditionally published. For some, that is the dream. It was my dream for a variety of reasons. I felt quite certain that I was not objective enough to know when my manuscript was ready, and I feared I might prematurely hit the indie-publish button. On some unspoken level, I also thought that if a publishing company picked me up, they would do all the post publishing heavy lifting to market my book.

Enter reality.

Both traditional publishers I work with are wonderful. They are personal, they work hard, and they answer every email every single time. But I’ve learned that I still have a significant amount of post publishing work to do to sell my books – just like an indie author. Unless you are a huge name with a huge publisher, this will likely be your experience as well.

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Small traditional publishers do not have the budget to launch your book with a huge splash, so authors must suit up and jump into the pool.

I’ve already launched two novels and one non-fiction book, and I am just starting to learn what it means to launch well. I had NO IDEA what I was doing. I thought that if I released the book to the public, then things would happen organically.

I am a huge believer in leaving my career in the hands of God and resisting the urge to go crazy on self-promotion. But I am also a huge believer in doing all things to the best of my ability and using my talents to glorify the Lord. It is not enough to simply write a message I believe the world needs to hear. I also need to let the world know where to find that message.

How does an author promote the message?

It took me a long time to learn that I am not promoting ME; I’m promoting the MESSAGE.

My next two novels release December 2018 (Mistletoe Melody) and February 2019 (Fatal Homecoming). They have detailed launch plans. I plan to launch them to the best of my ability and let the Lord do what He desires with my efforts.

You’ll notice if you stick around, that my blog posts during launch time will focus on the themes of those novels. I’ll host guest writers sharing about the prominent themes in those novels, and I will be a guest on various social media sites speaking about the themes of those books. It’s far easier to promote a theme or a message that I believe will bless others than it is to promote myself.

I’ve also found several helpful websites and podcasts, and I’m happy to share them with you.

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Misty Beller, The Ambitious Author – I’ve just found this blog, and it has already proven helpful! Traditional or Indie, her tips are great

Novel Marketing – This has been THE MOST HELPFUL podcast I’ve ever listened to regarding marketing books. Don’t have time to listen to podcasts, you say? Listen while you drive, run, walk, do the dishes, etc. Ditch the music and learn while you multi-task. I found the following two links on the Novel Marketing podcast.

Chris Fox Writers – If you sign up for his newsletter you will receive a copy of How to Write 5000 words an hour for FREE.

James Scott Bell Blog – I loved his teaching on how to write short stories and use them to market your novels. FYU: The short story I plan to GIVE AWAY this November to my newsletter subscribers is the result of this teaching.

Positive writer –  another place filled with tips for platform building when you have a $0 budget.

Let’s Share

What about you? What are your best resources? Let’s share them and help each other!

Can a Writer Over Plan?

Writing coach Brian Henry once said that it takes three things to publish a book traditionally.

  1. A well-written manuscript.
  2. Perseverance.
  3. Dumb luck.

And you only need two out of three to succeed.

The only two items on that list that an author can control are numbers one and two. So how do you craft that stellar manuscript?

Many people look for the solution in worksheets, how-to books, and writers’ manuals. These are great things. I use many and have benefitted from the instruction of more experienced and successful authors. But, as I procrastinate starting my fourth novel, I can’t help but wonder if it is possible to over plan and if all those charts and worksheets can morph into a hindrance instead of help?

A Writer has Options

I am a firm believer in the fact that there is more than one way to write a book. There are probably as many ways to write a novel as there are writers, and the way that is right is the way that works for you.

I happen to blend a few methods, and I am a planner. The more books I write, the more detailed I plan. For me, plotting results in a cleaner first draft that requires fewer edits later.

But I had to question my motive when I downloaded a guide over 100 pages long on developing characters when I already had copious notes on said characters. It turns out that I had begun using charts and planning to avoid the hard work of writing that first draft.

You may think it gets easier with every published book, but for me, the reality is that the first draft is agony NO MATTER WHAT. It requires hours and hours of butt-in-chair writing that cannot be avoided by filling in the blanks on a chart.

NaNoWriMo

The right method to write is the method that works for you. But whatever you do, don’t use planning as a way to avoid writing. You eventually have to get the words on the page, and there is no better time than NaNoWriMo!

National Novel Writing Month begins November 1st. It might be the motivation you need to jump over the hurdle of planning and get that story on paper. Hop on over the website and check it out. If you sign up, let me know! Maybe we can cheer on one another.

 

Be a teachable writer

Funny story.

After publishing Write Every Day in the for writers category, I had to go back and edit out a mistake. Thirteen mistakes. I used the word everyday wrong every time. Thirteen times. All incorrect.

Quick tip:

Everyday – ordinary. Not special.

Every day – doing something daily.

Boy, is my face red.

Why am I telling you this?

Eventually, someone will tell you that you’ve made a mistake. You’ll learn a new grammar rule or an old grammar rule and recognize the dozens of ways you’ve mishandled the English language. You can be embarrassed. You can get angry (at yourself). You can run and hide and vow never to publish again. Or, you can be teachable. You can hear, apply, learn, and grow.

Being teachable might be more important than being perfect

I am not a perfect writer. If you’ve read this blog for any length of time you already know that. But, I continually learn and apply new knowledge so I can improve. I lean less on editors today than I did yesterday, but I still require LOADS of instruction.

I’ve discovered that most other writers will share their knowledge with a student eager to learn. Many editors will graciously explain tricky grammar rules when the student responds to their correction and advice with a teachable spirit. It’s not always about being perfect. It’s about being teachable.

Being teachable involves learning

When I learn something new, I write it down on the white board near my desk so I can refer to it easily. My editor or writer friends do not want to continually correct the same mistakes over and over again. They want me to improve. So when someone is teaching, LISTEN. Then, APPLY their advice to all drafts before sending them back for another critique.

It takes multiple passes and multiple eyes

I don’t catch every POV slip in one edit. I don’t correct every telling scene on a first pass. However, there should be a marked improvement with each pass and it is helpful to organize your edits.

I do multiple edits, each one focusing on something different. The first edit focuses on the big picture/main plot line/ does it make sense/and do I answer all the questions. The next is an edit in the heroine’s POV. I focus on her emotional/spiritual growth and her story arc. The next edit is in the hero’s POV and I focus on his emotional/spiritual growth and his story arc. I devote an entire edit to the romance, making sure the pacing is right. I take my time, addressing things one at a time. Finally, the last edit is grammar and punctuation. My weakest area.

I do my best to ensure I send my editor the cleanest draft possible. I have friends, further along in this writing world, who graciously look over my work at various points to help me see the story with fresh eyes. They always see things that I have missed. Always.

Slow down and enjoy the journey 

After completing a first draft, I take a long break and celebrate the victory of having the bones of a book on paper. Then, after a rest, I start the long stretch of edits. If you give yourself some distance from the story, you may find yourself enjoying the edits rather than hating them.

You’ll send your best work to the publisher. You’ll send it after rounds and rounds of edits. You’ll send it after it has been critiqued by others in the writing community. You’ll send it when it is the best you can make it.

Then, be teachable when it sells and the publisher begins the editing process afresh.