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.

 

Dear Aspiring Author: turn that rejection into a contract offer

I started The Builder’s Reluctant Bride’s manuscript (then titled First Love) on my daughter’s first day of school back in Sept, 2008.

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Doesn’t she look cute?

It took one year to write and edit the manuscript and it was promptly rejected for publication from several publishers by Nov 2009. The most notable rejection was from White Rose Publishers. Here’s what they wrote:

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Why is their rejection significant?

When an editor takes the time to make specific comments about your manuscript, be teachable. Editors are bombarded with submissions and many send a “form letter” rejection. (I have stacks of those too.) I could have been offended at the editor’s advice to keep studying the craft of writing. I could have self-published when a self-publisher called and offered me a deal. I could have been cocky and wrongly believed I had nothing left to learn. Had I done that, I would have missed out on the beautiful world of friendships within the writing community.

Apply the advice!

As sad as that rejection made me feel, I did as she suggested and signed up for writing classes where I met wonderful people who share my passion. I read LOADS of books about the craft of writing. I found a writing mentor (shout out to fantastic writer friend: Sandra Orchard), and I found a writing community where I learned that I had a LOT to learn about writing for the glory of God. I set aside the manuscript to study. I worked on smaller projects, freelanced for magazines, landed a job as a reporter, and eventually found myself looking at that first story again. Could I apply all that I had learned and make this publishable?

Hold loosely and let the story change as needed.

It was a lot of hard work to rewrite that manuscript. The story changed so much that I eventually changed the characters names to reflect their new identities. Sarah became Jenna, Dan became William, and First Love became The Builder’s Reluctant Bride.

Interestingly, White Rose is the imprint under Pelican Book Group that just released The Builder’s Reluctant Bride this month. My very first rejection is also my very first publisher.

Sometimes life is funny that way…

Be teachable

My advice to you is the same advice graciously given to me by that kind editor many years ago (who funnily enough was the same person to request the full manuscript of First Love the second time around). Study the craft, be teachable to instruction from those more experienced, and write on!

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Dedication page inside The Builder’s Reluctant Bride

All for His glory,

Stacey