Monday, February 15, 2016

Author Responsibility

"With great power 
comes great responsibility"

If you're a writer, you know all about the voices in your head. They're real, obnoxious, and persistent. Ignoring them is not an option. They want to be unleashed upon the world where they can share whatever message they need to. They want their world, their stories, to be known. Your characters eat away at you until you flush them out--literally--onto the page. Only then can you rest... at least until the next story does the same thing. So you keep writing...

But then what?

If you're gifted in the use of words and storytelling, it's not only your responsibility to tell the stories inside your head, but also to make sure that they're read! 

Stories that sit on a shelf (real or imaginary) collecting dust are not only a waste of your time as a writer, but a damn Greek TRAGEDY! You might have been able to flush the voices out of your head, but you've completely let them down. No one is hearing your characters. No one will remember them.

What can you do as a writer to make sure your stories are head? 

Step One: Publish! Self-publish or seek out a publisher

  • For Self-Publishing: Get on Amazon and/or Smashwords! Everyone and their grandmother is doing it, so can you! Smashwords has a handy guide you can download for free to learn how to format and sell your self-published books. Just make sure you follow some basic rules if you're going to self-publish your work. You can read about the basics HERE
  • For Traditional Publishing: Google "(insert your genre) publishers" Yes. It's that simple. Find out who publishes your type of book, and then read their submission guidelines (usually found under "write for us" or easy "submission guidelines" somewhere on their webpage). Then, follow them perfectly, and submit. Expect to wait weeks to hear back (publishers are busy), and also expect to be rejected (normal! JK Rowling was rejected dozens of times, as were other greats. You have to match your work to the right publisher, and doing that isn't always easy. Just don't give up)
But publishing is no guarantee that others are reading your words. You need to go further!

Step Two: Market! I can not emphasize this enough. 

Don't be intimidated by things you need to learn. Do the research, ask questions, and learn as much as you can. We should never stop learning.

  • Build a Platform: This means getting your ass on social media! Start a FaceBook Author Page, join Twitter, Yahoo, and Google. Get on Goodreads. Get on any social media that will connect you with your market audience and other authors in your genre(s). Join groups where readers are waiting to hear about what's coming soon and where they can go to find your books.
  • Start a Blog: Readers care what's going on inside your head. Give them juicy updates on whatever it is you're working on. Tell them details on your site that they can't find anywhere else. Talk about your life and be more than just a name printed on a book cover. There are numerous free blogging platform. Google "free blogging platforms" and get yourself a copy of "Blogging for Dummies" if your find it necessary.
  • Connect with Other Authors: There are tons of people out there looking to exchange ideas, critique, beta read, etc. Other authors are the best people to learn from, so it's worth putting the effort in to get buddy-buddy. Do some backscratching! If you're willing to help other authors, they'll help you. Plus, in my experience, other authors are some of the most entertaining people I've ever encountered.
  • Advertise: Many book sites will allow you to place an add for a reasonable fee. Some ads are simple book cover images with a short blurb that links to a place your book can be purchased, but other sites will do a full "Author Spotlight" where you and your work can be featured for anywhere from a week to a month with your full bio, and sometimes an interview.
  • Join Events: Go to book conferences, offer to be a guest author at a local book store, or see what your local library offers to help promote authors. Imagine how cool it is for a reader to physically meet the brain behind their favorite story! If you could shake the hand of Shakespeare or Anne Rice, you would, wouldn't you?
  • Keep It Up: Don't stop after one Facebook post or one advertisement placement, or on event. There are literally hundreds of thousands of other authors out there in the thrall trying to be heard, to have their stories read. Quitting is not an option! 
And if you're working together with another author in an anthology or book collaboration, don't let them down. The more word-of-mouth you put out there and promotional efforts you do will directly correlate in a positive outcome for everyone. Sitting on your ass and only being a writer is not cool! Cool people make sure there's a point to dealing with the madness that comes with the voices. Cool people make it their responsibility to make their stories known. 

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