Mailing Lists

November 6th 2014

I’ve been hearing a lot lately about how important mailing lists a.k.a. newsletters are to marketing. Of course, this makes sense. Once upon a time MySpace was the the social networking stream, now it’s Twitter and Facebook. In five years it could be HighFive (I just made that up). But email and a website are pretty much longstanding. At least, I hope. If I have a mailing list, I can always email readers to tell them about a new book or project or sale. Whereas, let’s be real, Facebook is hit or miss. Mostly miss since little of what I post makes it to fans.

Here’s the problem with a mailing list, I can’t figure out how to get people on it. Granted, I only have one book out. I’m sure in time, with more books under my belt, I’ll gather more readers. But seriously, I have four people on my mailing list and half of them are me and my dad (who I signed up on his behalf). I don’t want to be all ‘give me your email address’ but I’m not sure how to get people interested without being annoying.

Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can increase interest in my mailing list? Do you have a mailing list? How often do you send out emails? What do you email your readers when you don’t have any news?

Here’s a link to mine if anyone is interested in signing up.

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My first ever author event!

October 24th 2014

Tonight was my first ever author event. I did a book reading and signing at my local public library. It went really well. I had a blast hanging out with my friends and a fan! talking about books and writing. Especially since my kids were left at home with their dad. Ahh…the sweet sound of adult conversation. It also felt so narcissistic. I mean I spoke about myself and my work for nearly 2 hours. And yet it was so cool to be able to share tidbits about my writing process and how books get published and where my characters’ names come from. Stuff I tell my husband, but rather than getting a obligatory ‘uh-huh’, the audience seemed interested. It really was a stellar evening. It made me feel like an author and not just a mom parading as a writer.

Author Event! Dingman Branch of Pike Cty Public Library

Author Event! Dingman Branch of Pike Cty Public Library

But the best part of the night was meeting a fan. If you’re reading this, Kelsey, I mean you (you totally made my night!) Kelsey is a 19-year-old with dreams of becoming a writer. She was excited to meet me. I was just as excited to meet her. Kelsey said she had never met a real author before and her giddiness at meeting me is the same giddiness I feel when I meet an author I adore. It’s like meeting a rock star.

Me and Kelsey -- I totally have her permission to post this.

Me and Kelsey — I totally have her permission to post this.

Friends and family are my first line of support. They’re the ones who bought my book the day it came out; who championed my work to others. It’s unreal to think of strangers reading my book, but Kelsey, up until today, was a stranger who read my book and came to meet me. It was truly an honor.

I also signed a copy for a sweet 8th grader. I hope she likes GG&G too. My next book signing is on Dec. 13th in Hawley, PA. A girl can get used to this.

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Group Blog!

October 14th 2014

My awesome critique partner, Leandra Wallace, had an ambitious idea to get writers of all genres together for some good old fashioned group blogging and she asked me to be a part of it. I am so pleased to be contributing to Across the Board. We are a diverse group of writers from horror to YA to romance. We’re going to cover it all every Monday and Thursday. My post will be up Thursday and sneak peak — I’m going to be talking about the short story. My fave! So check us out and tell your friends.

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Sisters in Crime Blog Hop

September 29th 2014

Stop, hop and blog. I was tagged by suspense writer and superb gardener, Elizabeth Buhmann, to participate in the Sisters in Crime (of which I am a member) blog hop. I love Sisters in Crime. I am a YA mystery writer and I get a lot of advice from SinC members. It’s a great organization.

Here we go…I’m going to answer this one question: If you were to mentor a new writer, what would you tell her about the writing business?

First, I have not been in the business long enough to mentor anyone. I’m barely giving myself good advice. My debut novel has been out for 4 months and its sales are diminishing. I’ve gotten great reviews, but few requests from bloggers. I’ve exhausted my friends and family for sales, and now I’m hoping strangers will somehow discover the book via my Goodreads page or giveaways or word-of-mouth or my book signing or blatant pleading. Some days, I spend more time online networking than I do with my children. Selling a book is tough. Incredibly tough. And yet, I’m on working on another project. Cuz I love to create. Next to motherhood, writing is the only job I’m not be paid to do that I love. It’s the only career I want.

Writers are an amazing breed of people. We will spend years working on a novel. We’ll sacrifice family time and fun in order to finish a project. We’ll send it out to agents and/or small presses in hopes of it finding a home. If it does get to an agent, we hope it sells to a publishing house with an advance. Of course, that might not happen. We write another book and start the process all over again. If it gets to a publishing house, we’re still not done. Because after edits and cover reveals and release, we need to sell that book to readers. Hustle that book like our life depends on it. Work. Work. Work. Then write, write, write.

What would I tell a new writer? I’d tell her to write and learn about craft. I’d tell her to research the business. I’d tell her to write that YA dystopic vampire novel, even though the market is flooded, because it’s what she loves. I’d also tell her to be realistic in her expectations — to know that publishers acquire what they believe the market demands. I’d tell her that she may not sell her first novel or her second or her third. I’d tell a new writer not to give up and to forge the path best suited for her needs. I’d also tell her that no one owes her anything. She might write the best novel of her career, but no one has to read it. Publishing isn’t easy. Writers write because they need to and they hang on to a slim hope that others will read their work and connect. And that’s all we can do. Publishing is not a business for the unmotivated and cocky. Lastly, I’d tell her to be gracious to those who help her.

If you’re an author, what advice would you give a new writer starting out?

Tagging my dear friend, Kate Moretti, for the next hop. She’s the NYT Bestselling author of Thought I Knew You and Binds That Tie and she is my mentor.

Screen Shot 2014-09-29 at 11.24.06 AMThought I Knew You

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Going indie — is it for me?

September 27th 2014

Lately, I’ve been thinking about my writing career. A lot. And where I see myself in a few years. It was always my intention to submit another book or two to Red Adept Publishing (with whom I have had an awesome experience) and I do still plan on doing that, but then I had wanted to shop my YA historical mystery (which has not been written) to agents in hopes of getting a Big 5 contract. That was my plan. But recently I’ve been reading up on self-publishing and that route is looking more and more attractive to me for several reasons. Of course, like anything (and I’m a realist) there are pros and cons to self-publishing.

Pros:

1. I write what I want and I publish it. Many of my outlined projects are historical mysteries. Unfortunately, it’s also not the most popular genres for the big publishers to acquire, or so I’ve heard. I can’t imagine writing a book that might not see the light of print, not because it’s bad, but because a publisher doesn’t think anyone will buy it. I have three young children. If I’m sacrificing family time to write, then it better be worth it.

2. I am in control over my writing projects, my cover, and pricing. I’ll pay for good cover art and editing, but if I want to run a sale, I run a sale. If I want to price my book at $2.99, I can. If I want to release two books at once, I can. I am my own boss.

3. My earning potential might be greater than a traditional publishing contract. Emphasis on might. Some indie authors make good money (check out this article by Hugh Howey) and I’m not just talking about the big names in indie, but authors who would’ve been called “midlisters.” Some of these midlisters are earning $1000 or more a month. Some authors are earning more from their self-published titles than they ever did at traditional publishing houses. These authors bust their butt and hustle. They are prolific, but they make money. By going indie, I also wouldn’t have to worry about not earning out an advance and not being offered another contract. I’ve heard quite a few horror stories about authors not earning out their advances and subsequently not selling another book. That sounds demoralizing.

Cons:

1. Visibility is tough. Very tough. I’m having a tough time getting visibility on my traditionally, small press novel. It’s not easy to separate yourself from the pack; to get bloggers to notice you. I’ve come across many blogs that do not accept indie books for review. Some bloggers won’t take books that aren’t Big 5 pub’d. It’s a tough business to get noticed.

2. There’s an investment. Self-publishing requires a sizable monetary investment. Cover art. Editing. Formatting. ISBN numbers. I estimate the cost to be between $1500 and $2000. My husband just about balked at that number. For good reason, there is no guarantee I will recoup that money in sales. And if you’re not getting sales and making money, your author career has just become an expensive hobby.

3. Writers who make money, write a lot. I’m a slow writer. Outlining alone can take me a month, not to mention drafting, and constant editing. It took me years to write GG&G. If I’m going to go indie, I’ll need to increase my input to at least two books per year to stay viable.

4. Indie authors are not always perceived as ‘real’ writers. Do some self-published writers put out crap? Yes. For every Hugh Howey, Colleen Hoover and J.A. Konrath, there are other writers who don’t put out a professional product. Readers depend on the NY publishers for quality control. I understand that. Indie authors need reviews to show that their books are worthy reads and those reviews are hard to get.

5. I would be in charge of everything. I will pay for editing, covers and formatting. But I’m also in charge of ISBNs, uploading my book, dealing with Amazon’s constant fluctuating programs, and marketing (which I do now anyway). From cover to cover, that book depends on me. And that sounds overwhelming. Not to mention, I’ve never been a detail-oriented person.

6. I won’t be in libraries. I’m a librarian and as of now, indie books, and many small press books, do not get on library shelves. Why? Because libraries base their collection development on professional reviews (Library Journal, Kirkus, Booklist). Right now, GG&G is in five libraries and that’s because I have library connections. And in one case, my brother donated his copy to his local library (thanks, Justin!) And that’s the only reason. It would mean the world to be on a library shelf — way more than a bookstore. I love libraries — that’s how I discover new authors. So this con is quite crushing.

Am I definitely going to indie publish? Well, I can’t say for sure, but I’m leaning in that direction. Like any smart person, I’ll do my research thoroughly and weigh my options. In the meantime, I will get back to writing, because none of this will matter if I don’t have a book done.

I’m a strong writer and I’ve always been a strong writer. I know that if I do choose to publish independently, I will put out quality, professional, good books. Because I don’t even let my critique partners read my work until it’s polished.

Are you self-published? Traditionally published? Hybrid? What are you thoughts on the road you’ve taken? Would you do anything differently? Sound off in the comments.

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