Mar 102011
 

A month is all it took to get 103 followers. That’s it – one month. I now know the secret to getting blog readers. All it takes is, wait for it, wait for it, PARTICIPATION. I believe that joining online events, commenting on other people’s blogs and re-posting your blog links on Twitter and Facebook increases your readership. And as much as I like to pretend that I don’t care who is reading, the truth is that I do. I want readers and I want people to comment.  So, I want thank all of my followers to date. Thank you, thank you!

This week I’ve been thinking about self-belief and how so many people are scared to take the next step. Well, I say don’t let fear halt your life.

I have fallen victim to the fear monster as recently as last year when I started doubting myself and my writing. I was in a funk and I needed to get out of it quick if I was ever going to create again. And then one day I had an epiphany. I know who I am and I know what I need to do. Two weeks before the New Year, I took action and made a list. Here’s what was on it:

Join writing societies or associations
Meet more writers
Attend writing conferences
Find a mentor
Get my short stories published
Go to more Chicago literary events
Publish my collaborative children’s book
Finish my middle grade novel

I’m happy to say that I’ve already completed some of these goals including joining the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). Through the SCBWI Illinois Chapter, I was able to attend a writing conference/workshop in mid January. It was all about creating your own marketing plan. There was a lot of pertinent information, but one of the most important things I learned was how to generate potential sales for your children’s book. I wanted to share some of these with you. Please note that I have not tried these, but I believe they are useful for any writer.

Here are some ways to generate sales for your book:

  • Network at events, through writing groups and conferences and through social networking sites like Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, etc.
  • Create relationships/connections through your personal website or blog and get blurbs written about your book.
  • Ask blog owners and other authors if they are interested in interviewing you about your book and offer to do the same for them.
  • Call bookstores and schedule readings and book signings.
  • Be there for the book sellers as much as possible.
  • Join professional or trade associations.
  • Go to American Library Association (ALA) Conferences.
  • Guerilla market through t-shirts, postcards, bookmarks, etc.
  • Use word of mouth to promote your book.
  • Talk about your book to librarians and teachers and see if they’d be open to you scheduling a reading.
  • Schedule 30-40 school visits per year.
  • Create a swag bag for school librarians and teachers. Include a copy of your signed book and postcards of your fellow author friends that are also doing the library/school visit rounds. Think about karma and the idea of what comes around, goes around.
  • Find connections. Can you co-market your book with another product?
  • Try to get your book on Tag.
  • Put your book on amazon and have it formatted for the Nook and Kindle. Your publisher may already do this.
  • Use keywords on your web site and blog to help promote your work.
  • Send info to local chapters (Mondo Times).
  • Follow up with people constantly.
  • Write a press release about your book and submit it.
  • Contact children’s indoor playrooms and schedule a book reading/signing.
  • Think about promoting through: http://www.authorbuzz.com/kids/
  • Promote your book on home schooling and mommy web sites by purchasing ad space.

What are some other ways you can think of to generate sales for your books?

I’m also attending another conference/workshop this month and I can’t wait.

As far finding a mentor goes, earlier this year, I contacted an old professor of mine, Mark Costello. He is somebody I respect and one of the best teachers at the University of Illinois. He is a great writer and gives excellent writing advice. Most importantly, he believes in the craft.

Through our letter writing exchange, (who does that anymore?!) he reminded me that you can’t let anybody dampen your writing spirit, you need to self-teach and you need to go forward. It reignited the fire in me and for that I will forever be grateful.

I realized that although it would be nice to have a mentor, I can be my own and so can you. You just need to believe in yourself and your work. You need to keep reading, writing and submitting and you can’t stop. If you get the opportunity to mentor another writer and you have the time, I say do it. It’s always good to pay it forward.

You can check out Mark Costello’s work here:

The Murphy Stories

Middle Murphy

In other news, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, writing and submitting. I have a series of short stories that I am editing and two are out and about looking for homes. I have also found a trustworthy and incredible editor for my work, which will help me to complete the rest of my short stories in a timely manner.

Here’s what I’ve accomplished so far:

Join writing societies or associations
Meet more writers
Attend writing conferences
Find a mentor
Get my short stories published
Go to more Chicago literary events
Finish and submit my collaborative children’s book
Finish my middle grade novel

That leaves me with half of the things to complete by the end of this year. Will I do it? I can’t say, but I’ll try.

I wanted to leave all of my readers with a few words – make a plan, take action and keep on truckin’ no matter what. Like Mae West said, “you only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

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Sep 212006
 

Why take advantage of writing conferences anyway? What do you get out it?

Going to a writers conference not only forces you to practice introducing yourself to strangers, but it also gives you the opportunity to meet other local writers. After listening to about a dozen introductions, I became acutely aware that I was the only creative writer in the room and I was surrounded by a sea of serious journalists. There were editors, designers, and of course freelance writers, but I wasn’t in the process of taking the leap to fulltime freelance writing, so where did I belong? This is when self-doubt began to nestle into a small corner of my brain. What am I doing here? I am no hardcore journalist. And then it clicked. I was there to learn.

So I spent my time focusing on every word that was being said instead of the doubt. I gained amazing writing tidbits from ways to keep track of time and how to price your work, to overcoming writers block and how to re-slant articles. I recorded everything in my tiny notebook. It was everything I always wanted to know about writing, but was afraid to ask.

Now, I realize how similar writers really are. Most of us have routines that must be done before we are ready to work. Mine is cleaning; my instructors was baking brownies. I also realized that it is especially important for me to be surrounded by creative people, and having access to a great cup of coffee, which you don’t often find in corporate kitchens. If you ever have the opportunity to check out a Mediabistro or Society for Professional Journalists conference then do it. What you could be gaining from the experience could seriously enlighten you or fill in any gaps of information you may be missing.

I went to two writing conferences in the past month and it was totally worth it. I’d do it again in a second because the information I gained greatly outweighed the $65.00 cost.

 They were both held by www.mediabistro.com. I attended Managing your Freelance Career on Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006 and Advanced Freelancing for Magazines held on September 6th, 2006. Any questions? Ask away.

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 Posted by at 3:18 am