Most people think that having a big publisher, an unlimited advertising budget, a PR consultant on speed dial, and a flashy cover are the things that can help you find success with your book.
And while these factors, if you’re lucky enough to have them, can no doubt contribute to your success, there is ONE simple (and free) thing that the majority of authors overlook.
It’s a very simple thing that you can do in a few minutes, with just a little research. And overlooking it can certainly make your sales suffer, without you really knowing why.
What is it?
One thing we frequently discuss with aspiring authors is whether it’s possible to build a reputation, and a successful writing career, with just one book.
The simple answer is, no. To be recognised as an author, you really need to have the weight of several books in your repertoire, but really the discussion is about whether you can launch a writing career with just one book under your belt.
There are arguments for both sides. Let’s be honest, it’s a struggle to get your first book out into the world. Not just the mammoth effort of actually writing the words, but the huge learning curve to navigate editing, formatting, cover design options and self publishing platforms. Not to mention the post-publication marketing efforts to actually produce any sales.
You know that saying ‘can’t see the wood for the trees’?
It’s probably a bit like that with you and your book.
You’re so close to it, it’s very hard to see the objective viewpoint.
But there are people who can help you with this – they’re called beta readers.
Beta readers are ‘test’ readers for your story. They’re unpaid and work as volunteers rather than ‘professionals’.
We talk a lot on our blog about how to promote your book once it’s been published.
There’s a good reason for this. So many authors spend months and years working very hard on completing and publishing a book.
But their downfall is actually selling their book.
When it doesn’t sell, they think there must be something wrong with the book itself; the quality of the writing, the planning of the plotline, the believability of the characters.
But it’s likely to be none of these things.
There’s usually only one reason a book doesn’t sell:
Author Q&A with Dee Dee Chumley
With a career spent as a high-school English teacher, Dee Dee Chumley first channelled her creative ideas as part of a friend’s writing group.
Her other talents have included teaching girls’ softball, and even a spot of bus driving!
Dee Dee has received numerous awards for her short stories, essays, and poems, and in 2012 her debut novel Beyond the Farthest Star won Best Juvenile Book from the Oklahoma Writers’ Federation, Inc.
We were lucky enough to have Dee Dee answer some questions for us, and share her thoughts on writing and self-publishing.
If you’re about to publish your first book, are you undecided about using a pen name, or writing under your real name?
It seems to make sense that you should decide which name to use right from the start, as the name you write under will then be set in stone forever. But is this actually true?
Well, first let’s consider WHY you would want to use a pen name.
The obvious answer is to ‘hide’ your real identity. But what are the benefits of doing this, and are there any drawbacks?
Here are some of the pros and cons:
Author Q&A with Gordon Gravley
Gordon Gravley hails from the (sometimes chilly) Northwest United States.
Gordon first contacted us at the start of 2018, looking to update the covers for two of his novels, ‘Gospel for the Damned’ and ‘The Quieting West’.
We were thrilled to work with him to create new cover designs for his highly rated books, and also managed to sneak in a chat to find out a little bit more about him and his writing process.
Here Gordon tells us about a 25 year learning process, his interest in the Old West, and how maturity has benefitted his writing.
For the purposes of this blogpost, I am drawing a distinction between these two terms.
Let’s look at the dictionary definitions:
noun: writer; plural noun: writers
a person who has written something
noun: author; plural noun: authors
someone who writes books as a profession
There you have it. The crucial difference between the two.
Now, not every writer wants to become a professional, and this is fine. Some writers are publishing academic papers, or a family history only intended for a select group of people.
But if you’re a writer who dreams of calling it your career in a few years, there are certain steps you need to take. You need to build a bridge to get from being someone who writes, to being someone who writes as a profession.
Here are nine suggestions to help you make that leap.
We all know the saying: ‘the best things come in small packages’, and this includes your book’s blurb. But how do you condense down hundreds of pages of story into a few brief sentences?
As the author of those hundreds of pages, it can be a real struggle to work out what to include, and how to give an overview but still be brief.
So, if you’re striving to perfect your synopsis, here are 5 things you can do to create the most impact with such little word-count:
Those of us who don’t work in a creative environment think it must be very hard for those ‘arty types’.
All that sitting around waiting for the inspiration to hit them.
Artists, musicians, writers… What do they do all day while waiting for the lightning bolt idea to strike?!
In fact, any designer, actor or author will tell you that waiting for the ‘sunbeam through the clouds – ta da!’ is total nonsense.
You have to practice your craft ALL the time. Even when you have no ideas. You keep going.