What I Didn’t Know Until I Was Published by Debbie De Louise
Although Debbie De Louise has been a librarian and avid reader for more than 25 years, she never realized how much there was to know about publishing until one of her own books was published.
For those who are new to publishing, those who are not yet published, and those who are just curious about publishing, here is a list of 10 interesting things I’ve found on my publishing journey:
- Self-Publishing or Publishing with a Big 5 Publisher are not the only choices for authors. Many authors don’t realize that Indie and small publishers exist or they don’t think they are worth pursuing. While my first novel, Cloudy Rainbow, was self-published; my second, A Stone’s Throw, was published by a small publisher, Limitless Publishing. Some authors prefer small publishers because they don’t feel like a “small fish in a big pond.” Others see small publishers as first steps to getting in the door at a Big 5 publishing house.
- Twitter is Awesome for Writers. Although most writers are involved in social media such as Facebook and Twitter, many of them are not aware that Twitter has special competitions and writing events at which publishers and agents seek to find new authors. I sold both A Stone’s Throw and my recent release, Between a Rock and a Hard Place, after participating in a Pit2Pub event on Twitter.
- The Best Promoters of Your Books are Other Authors. It’s a myth that there’s excessive jealousy and competition among authors. Most authors are only too happy to share and review books of new writers, as well as offer advice. By cross-promoting one another, authors create a win/win situation for themselves and those they promote. I feature author spotlights on my blog; and, since I’m a librarian, I am glad to add a donated book to our library’s collection and review and promote it in our monthly staff picks newsletter. Since I’ve been published, I’ve also made many author friends both online and through face-to-face meetings who have been immensely helpful in answering questions and sharing their experiences with me.
- Blogs are Great for Building An Author’s Audience. When I took a WordPress class to learn to create my own blog, I never knew how valuable the knowledge would turn out to be for me as a writer. Blogs are not only good for cross-promoting as I mentioned above; but, by guest blogging on book blogs, you are able to introduce yourself to new audiences and build up your readership and fan base. In addition to Ruff Drafts, my regular blog on my website, https://debbiedelouise.com, I also recently created one for my cat character, Sneaky the Library Cat from my Cobble Cove cozy mysteries. Sneaky “interviews” other cat characters on his blog, https://sneakylibrarycat.wordpress.com.
- A Newsletter is important but most subscribers will not open them without Incentives. Professionals agree that newsletters are one of the best ways to promote your writing. However, without continuing to offer incentives and finding ways to recruit new subscribers that usually includes advertising, people will not bother reading the emails and many will unsubscribe. Incentives do not necessarily need to be costly. I ran a survey in one of my newsletters recently to see what people liked to win in the monthly contests I sponsor. The majority of the respondents preferred Amazon gift cards, but these can be purchased in low denominations. I usually offer a $5 to $10 Amazon gift card as a prize. Some subscribers also like free books or even free stories or excerpts. I am soon sponsoring a special holiday contest for a silver locket necklace that plays an important role in my latest book.
- New Authors Will Most Likely Not Earn enough in Royalties to offset what They Spend on Promotion. It’s true you hear about debut authors receiving huge advances, but for each of those, there are thousands of authors who don’t receive an advance at all. Neither of the small publishers I’ve written for offer an advance. Authors are also expected to do a big share of their own promoting even if they are with a large publisher. Travel expenses, giveaways, advertising, etc. can be costly. They are considered business expenses, but you need to have income to base them against.
- Writing is the Easiest Part of Being Published (and it’s often an author’s favorite part). Most writers do not enjoy tedious editing and time-consuming promotional activities. When asked what they like least about being an author, the majority of authors who I interviewed on my blog said it was having to market their work while they would rather be writing.
- Contests and Conferences can be Costly, but Some Are Worth the Expense. It’s important to research any contest you enter or conference you want to attend. Check out who sponsors them. Who will be attending or judging them? In the case of a conference, will the experience you gain be worth the cost of travel and registration? For contests, will the prize be worth the sign-up fee? How many people usually enter, and how many prizes are awarded?
- Bad Reviews Are Not Necessarily Bad. When I received my first less-than stellar review on Amazon, I was very upset even though I’d received 4 and 5 star reviews up to that point. I didn’t realize that nearly every author gets some bad reviews. Readers like different things, and not every reader will like every book. For that reason, a bad review shouldn’t be taken personally.
- The More You Know About Publishing, the More You Still Need to Learn. One of the things I like most about publishing is that there’s so much to learn, from the craft of writing to the technique of pitching to the formatting of manuscripts to the creation of query letters to the research and marketing of your genre. Writing is a career that features both on-the-job training and a lifelong experience of learning.
Debbie De Louise is a reference librarian at a public library on Long Island and has been involved with books and writing for over thirty years. She is a member of the Cat Writer’s Association, Sisters-in-Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She received the Lawrence C. Lobaugh, Jr. Memorial Award in Journalism for her work as Features Editor on the Long Island University/C. W. Post student newspaper, The Pioneer. More recently, Debbie received the Glamour Puss Award from Hartz Corporation for an article on cat grooming that appeared on Catster.com. She has published three novels, Cloudy Rainbow, A Stone’s Throw, and Between a Rock and a Hard Place, the second Cobble Cove mystery, that was published October, 2016 by Solstice Publishing as well as short stories in several anthologies. She is currently seeking an agent to represent her psychological thriller, Sea Scope and writing her third Cobble Cove Mystery for NanoWrimo. She lives on Long Island with her husband, daughter, and two cats.
You can connect with Debbie on these sites:
Website/Blog/Newsletter Sign-Up: https://debbiedelouise.com
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