Ermahgerd. I’ve been crazy busy over at Women and Words, the other place where I blog and admin and carry on. We’ve started a Women and Words podcast, which is me and my co-admin, author Jove Belle, chatting about the week’s crazy/fun and other things related to writing, editing, publishing of interest to LGBT writers and readers. We hope.
You can find us AT THIS LINK RIGHT HERE (or, the Lesbian Talk Show).
I also just finished up a novella that’s in editing AND I’m getting ready to go through the edits of another project AND my colleague R.G. Emanuelle and I JUST RELEASED our second anthology of food-themed romance and erotica (F/F). It’s called Order Up: A Menu of Lesbian Romance & Erotica. Our first food-themed anthology, All You Can Eat: A Buffet of Lesbian Romance and Erotica, was a Lambda finalist last year. Hope you check those out. Heh.
And now, onto the business of this blog. I got to thinking about this because I’ve been working with some new writers, and I thought some quick n’ dirty tips might prove useful to those of you who are on the cusp of publication or have JUST published something If so, GO, YOU! And if that’s the case, then you need to…
1. Launch a blogsite or website. DO IT BEFORE YOU PUBLISH ANYTHING, and at least have it ready to go before you debut it with your first publication. That’s right. Make it official. If you’re serious about this writing thing, then you need to get serious about having a hub for readers to find you. Even if your first publication is a short story and not a novel, try to have something in place before it’s published so that you can post things on your site and put those links on social media, thus bringing people to said site.
This is easy to do, friends. I use WordPress.com, which means all you do is sign up, launch the dashboard, pick a template, and BOOM. You’re good to go. Because WordPress.com offers free blogsites, your site name link will appear thus: “www.awesomeauthor.wordpress. com”
Which is fine, but if you want to get that “wordpress” out of your url and have it appear “www.awesomeauthor. com”, it’ll set you back about $13 a year, and the dashboard will walk you through it.
And here’s a list of the (allegedly) 11 best free blog sites, from March of this year. FREE, people.
It is imperative that you have an anchor site, whether it’s a blog site or a micro blog site like Tumblr, so that you have a place where people can find you, easily get your contact info, and drop you a line to tell you they loved your short story/book.
NOTE: I know some of you may be freaked out by tech. Don’t be. If you’re going to write in this day and age and make a go of it, you absolutely have to overcome that and start engaging with it. There are lots of us out here who can help you. Just jump in and ask away.
2. Start developing a presence on social media. There’s talk that Twitter is passé, but the fact is, I’ve tapped into a huge community of writers across many different genres. I’ve also found beta readers on Twitter, and met some great people. It takes some getting used to, but it can be fun and helps you build community. I also use Facebook, but primarily as a way to engage with my various writing communities. I’ll announce my books on social media, but I only do it when I’m ramping up for a release, and I always balance those during release times with other types of engagement. Which brings me to…
Do NOT use your Twitter account or other social media accounts to do nothing but post BUY MY BOOK. Nothing turns readers off more than a hard sell like that. So when you do social media, ENGAGE with people on different levels. Don’t turn it into a BUY MY BOOK OMG YOU MUST BUY MY BOOK NOW ISN’T IT PRETTY fiasco where that’s all you’re posting. Nobody wants that. Think about that guy who goes to a party and walks up to everybody there and says, “Hey, I’m awesome. You should hang out with me/date me.” Yeah. Don’t be that guy. And read this.
So, to be more effective on social media? Read this.
3. Write guest blogs for other people’s sites. This is where that whole “engaging” thing comes in with regard to social media. You will meet lots of people, and you will go and check out their sites. If you notice that they post guest blogs, well, hey. Hit ’em up for some space. Always be courteous and always have a pitch ready. “I notice that you seem to like zombie NASCAR stories. Could I post a guest blog at your site in which I talk about the release of my first short story, which deals with a NASCAR driver who doesn’t really die on the track, but instead is infected with an undead virus and ends up being the best NASCAR driver ever because she can have spectacular wrecks and just get into another car?”
If you get to guest blog, always have your materials ready for the host on or before the agreed-upon date.
Remember, writing is also a business. It’s not just a lone pursuit where you lock yourself away in your batcave and engage with nobody but your gaunt reflection in your monitor. Business requires engagement with potential customers/readers. If no one can find you, or if you don’t engage, people will move on to the next thing.
4. Participate in free and easy PR like blog tours. This works well if the editors of an anthology schedule one that involves the authors in said anthology. As an aside, a blog tour is much easier on you if you have your own blog site, but most people are accommodating and will host you. But it is a very good idea to have your own virtual home, if you will, because you will be using it for a variety of things, and it guarantees that you will have a web presence when people search your name and work. That’s what you want. Which is why it’s important to get a site ready to go before you’re even published.
5. If you’re serious about this writing stuff, join professional organizations. If you write lesfic, for example, join the Golden Crown Literary Society. There are numerous organizations out there, including the big ones like Mystery Writers of America, Romance Writers of America, the Horror Writers Association, and Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Some can be pricey for a year’s membership, but you will be part of a community, and you’ll have access to resources for writers that you might not have outside that membership. Plus, you can then attend the annual conferences, get involved on panels and do presentations, and learn a lot more about the publishing business as well as writing.
The alleged 10 best writers’ associations. Note that NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month — November) is included. I highly recommend this for its vast community network of writers.
Point being, once you publish, if you want to continue this path and build a following, you need to keep writing and keep publishing. A site, social media, and professional organizations can get you tapped into communities that can help you.
There we go! Some quickie tippies that hopefully you can find a use for.
Happy writing, happy reading, happy Friday!
Thanks Andi – really good advice…. Heck better than good (love the podcast)! I’m one of those who’s intimidated by techie things and because I’m trying to learn how to be a better writer I tell myself I’ll learn the techie stuff later but maybe I need to start now and do them both… I do blog for my library and I used to free blog on another site but I stopped and now contemplating whether my own blog has any value given I’m not published (yet)… Thank you for taking the time to do what you do to help us newbies…
Well, fortunately, platforms these days are pretty forgiving in terms of getting things up and running and posting. I know, because I use them. LOL It’s not hard to get a simple blogsite up where you post a blog every week or so and little updates about cool things going on in lesfic and/or other writing communities. It’s always good to have a hub–i.e. a “permanent address,” even online. And let me know if you have questions as you’re setting up. If I don’t know the answer, I will try to find someone who does. 😀
Thanks Andi…. I may well do that!