Promoting & Marketing As A Writer

I’m talking craft & going to touch on those scary words – promotion & marketing. As a very newby writer in the publishing world, those two words have the power to make me crawl inside a cupboard & lock the door. And put a blanket over my head. But even with a publishing house behind you, in this day & age with budget cuts & heavy competition in the written world, every writer is expected to do a certain amount of promotion and / or marketing of both themselves & their work.

So I’m going to cheat a little here by cross posting this blog onto both the Hot Down Under blog (of which I am a member) & my website as well with the hope of garnering more input / comments on this important subject to increase all of our knowledge. I’ll yak a little about my so far, brief, experience with this subject & what I’ve learnt to date then leave the field open to anyone who would care to comment on their experiences too.

Prior to about August or September last year, I’ve been blogging a bit here & there on my website with no real structure or plan apart from the vague idea I was putting my name out in the cyber world. I’d comment on random articles that caught my attention in the press (usually space or tech stuff) or ramble on about the craft aspects of writing. But when I held my first publishing contact in my shaky hands, I realised I had to take this aspect of my writing seriously; that writing is a business.

Since then I’ve gradually increased the number of my posts both on my site, on guest sites & on group author sites. I’ve increased my presence on facebook & twitter; I’ve been working diligently on increasing my followers / friends, hoping that this will put ‘my brand’ in the public eye. I’ve probably annoyed the hell out of people who know me in the real world. I have no idea what works & what doesn’t work but one thing I learnt (the hard way I might add) is that by putting all my energy into social networking, my writing time  has suffered.

Here is what I’ve learnt so far (ok, I’m assuming that you have a reasonably professional-looking website, have decided on your brand & have some basic computer knowledge):

1.      Time – write first, promote / market second. Something I’m now doing after taking a hard long look at the date & my goals for the year & realising how far behind I am!

2.      Be courteous, promote not just yourself & your current story but other writers too. Blog posts are a great tool here. Request guest posts on other writers’ sites (& don’t limit yourself to writers in the same genre, branch out, you never know where you might find new readers), return the favour & host guest blogs on your site – best on a regular basis, even if its one guest author every two months for example. Try to make it quirky or interesting by not just being a sales pitch; give something back to the reader & engage them.Having guests blogging on my site is still on my list of things to organise – J.

3.      Participate in blog hops. There are free ones out there as well as ones you need to fork out those hard earned dollars on. They can be time consuming but if you chose the timing to coincide with a new release it could be worth the effort.

4.      Promote your release day with a special celebration, offer giveaways, think of fun ways for readers to engage with you on your site to get them interested in you & your stories.

5.      Set up & keep up to date the following: Author page on Amazon, Goodreads, Romance Reviews, The Romance Studio, Savvy Authors, The Romance Novel Centre, Author’s Den & if you’re a member of writing organisations such as the RWA, NZRW, Savvy Authors, RWAmerica etc. Out of that list, I have six that are up to date & five still to do. (Eeek.)

6.      If you are writing a series, you could set up a fan page on facebook for the series.

7.      A lot of authors are now doing their own newsletters. (Muttering to self here now)

8.      Don’t promote / market yourself ALL the time when on social media. Share something of your life without giving food to any would be stalker. I’m interested in animal welfare, the environment, anything to do with astronomy & new tech stuff, so I like to share any snippets or articles I find, usually via twitter.

9.      Don’t do everything or your brain will implode. No seriously, none of us are Super Jane & we don’t have twenty clones of ourselves sitting by to be programmed into effecting multiple tasks. If you are time poor like me (ie have other claims on your time) why not pick one or two promo / marketing tools & focus your energies there?

As you can see, this is not a long list. My experience is limited & I’m still learning. But if I have twenty hours of time to put towards my writing business each week, then out of those twenty hours my social media / marketing time should be ONE HOUR. So the one biggie for me is TURN OFF THE INTERNET!!!!! & WRITE.

As writers, what works for you & do you enjoy this aspect of the writing business? As readers, what irks you most when you read writer’s blog posts?

Of course, reading is CRITICAL so why not check out the  stories written by the Hunter Romance Writers for some creative ‘research’. Thanks for dropping by & I hope you’ll leave a comment should you have the time.

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Member News : Erica Hayes

Congratulations to our member, Erica Hayes, on a fabulous cover release for Redemption. Redemption is the second book in the Seven Signs series and is out in the US 5th March and here in Australia, 24th April 2013. Here is a little bit about the series taken from Erica’s website…

Redemption_Cover ImageThe Seven Signs is an apocalyptic paranormal series, set in the near future against the backdrop of a twisted Biblical Apocalypse. It’s a little less horror/erotic than my other series, the Shadowfae Chronicles.
I call it urban fantasy/romance, because it’s a mixture of both, with strong dark fantasy elements but also a pivotal romance (with HEA) in each book.

In ancient Biblical prophecy, seven dreadful signs herald the End of Days—the pouring out of seven golden vials, brimming with the wrath of God. For centuries, the vials have remained hidden, lest their plagues be unleashed to destroy the world. But now, demons are hunting down the vials one by one, eager to twist that righteous wrath and bring on their own Dark Apocalypse. And only their immortal enemies can stop them—seven fierce fallen angel warriors known as the Tainted Host.

Shunned by heaven for their sins, yet chained in holy servitude, the Tainted are offered this one last hope of redemption. But virtue is a weakness when the enemy’s weapons are seduction and lies.
It’s time to challenge the demons at their own game.
The battleground? The dark and despicable city of Babylon, USA, a hive of greed and vanity we once called New York.

Seven vials. Seven demon princes. Seven Tainted angels of vengeance. Tonight, the End begins…

  This is a wonderful cover; powerful and dark, I love it. All the best, Erica.

My method for writing a synopsis

There was a lot of talk at our last HRW meeting about writing synopsis’. Some members have never written one while others are seasoned experts. Everyone agreed that the idea of condensing at 70K+ novel down to a one page summary is more than a little daunting. Kind of like seeing a huge shark swimming right at you with his teeth filled mouth wide open and ready to… yeah like that. I’m not expert, but I’ve done a lot of research and actually enjoy writing them, so I thought I’d share my method with you.

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Synopsis’ don’t have to be like threatened shark bites.

I find it easier if I am a little distanced from the story. It’s less confusing to write after I’ve had a little break from writing, revising, editing, whatever. That way I don’t feel the need put every little detail into the synopsis. Synopsis’ are a concise summary of a story, not a retelling. We don’t need to know the subplots, about the minor throwaway characters or even too much detail about the world building. You only really need to cover the main plot and the key plot points. Unless of course you’ve been asked for an epic 6 page synopsis, then feel free to include all the minor details.

I start by picking out my key plot points. I use the save-the-cat-beat sheet when I’m revising, so I base my plot points off that. Inciting incident, turning point into act II, midpoint, black moment, turn into act III and the final moment. All in all, I end up with just shy of 10 points, because I exclude a few of the subplot points. I then grow each of these points into a small paragraph, which gives me around two pages of writing. The next bit is the difficult part, I hone and edit it down to a one page synopsis. I make my writing tight, pack it with emotive power words and try to make each sentence not only count but sing too.

There are a few important points to take note of when writing a synopsis.

  1. Synopsis should always be written in third person present tense. Doesn’t matter if your story is thirds past, first present or omni. This is a rule. Stick to it.
  2. All points made should be resolved in the synopsis. If the resolution isn’t important enough to warrant inclusion than neither is the incident. Why state Jane met Joe if there’s no further mention of their relationship.
  3. Always tell the ending. Don’t hold back!
  4. Don’t introduce too many characters. You only really need to cover the protagonist, the main supporting characters and the antagonist. I try to stick to 4 characters at the most. That’s it!

And that’s it, that’s how I write a synopsis. I hope you find it a little easier to jump over those shark infested waters.

(Photo courtesy of gaftels via Compfight)

  Stacey is a writer of YA Sci-Fi and YA Fantasy. You can find her on facebook, twitter or at her own blog.

Release Day – Erin Moira O’Hara

CONGRATULATIONS to another of our members, Erin Moira O’Hara on her first release day. After attending the group’s Self E-Publishing Workshop run by Cathleen Ross, Erin has indie published a wonderful short story, An Irish Rose, inspired by her parents’ love story.

May this be the first of many more to come, Erin.

Irish Rose 2BLURB:   It’s 1959 and Claire Nugent is in Australia to attend her sister’s wedding and have a holiday before making a decision to either marry an older gentleman or become a nun. Instead she finds herself constantly bedeviled by Daniel Hunter, a powerfully built fireman, who is not only a rogue, but a Protestant, who a good Catholic girl would never marry.

 Daniel is captivated by Claire’s beauty, quick wit and enchanting Irish accent. He’s never enjoyed pursuing a woman to this extent, yet she refuses to acknowledge him as anything other than a pest. When Daniel hears Claire needs rescuing from a locked bathroom and is wearing nothing but a towel, he decides to take advantage of this golden opportunity and step up his seduction. She has captured his heart, now he will do whatever it takes to capture hers. 

An Irish Rose is out now as an Ebook on Smashwords at:     http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/279980

Or Amazon at:     http://www.amazon.com/An-Irish-Rose-ebook/dp/B00B8WQG6G