Monday, March 16, 2015

My Writing Career and Yours--Lessons Learned: Author Platform, Critique Groups, Video, Podcasting

Happy St. Patrick's Day! 
March 17

Greetings from sunny Florida!
Hope you'll be celebratin' the wearin' of the green on Tuesday! Tampa, Florida, colored the waterway downtown green for the occasion. Mayor Bob Buckhorn is an Irishman. Chicago, Illinois has dyed their river green for many years. Do you know of any other cities that do this? It's a unique way to celebrate, but I wonder if the water fowl and fish turn green too?

Let's talk. Grab your coffee/ tea and pull up a chair to the kitchen table and join me.

Four years ago in March my first e-book, Sunshine Boulevard, mystery/light horror, was published by MuseItUp Publishing. To me, signing the contract with the publisher and actually having a way for readers to read my work was the official beginning of my career as an author. Previously, I had non-fiction articles published in newspapers, magazines, and e-zines. After publishing this fictional piece, I felt I could add author to my resume because I had succeeded in releasing a story from my imagination. 

Through these four years I have learned a LOT about the business of writing. A few of my realizations are:

  • Building an author platform seems to be the first requirement and first step to becoming a successful author--along with writing a great story!
  • Building relationships with readers is important. Don't just yell buy my book, buy my book all the time.
  •  Good-old fashioned networking with people in the business helps to get your name out there. This is a mutual partnership in which we all help each other to move forward with writing and publishing careers

Lessons Learned by J.Q. Rose

Here are a few points I have learned along the way. Perhaps you can glean a few nuggets of information to help you in your determination to make writing a career.

  • Support Group--I have two mysteries published by a small press, MuseItUp Publishing. I would never have been a published author without the support and input I received from my critique group. You need someone to help you with your writing. Don't write in  a vacuum. 

  • Presentations/Speaking--I joined my critique partners in  two presentations in our local communities. The most important thing I learned at these presentations/book signings is you need a print book to sell. My mysteries (and all my books) are eBooks. I love them, but they are not a product you can sell face-to-face at a gathering. I've tried coupons, but folks don't want to deal with paying for the book, THEN go home to download it. When my first eBook was published in 2011, noone knew what the heck an eBook was. I spent my time educating people on this new reading opportunity, where to find it, and the device to read it on. Nowadays people will actually take my post card and put it with their iPad or Kindle cover to look up the book later. That is encouraging, but not a sure sale like a print book is.

  • Guest Bloggers--Guest blogging and hosting authors really does help you get your name out. D'vorah Lansky's Book Marketing Challenge workshop inspired me to get proactive in marketing, so I invited romance and mystery authors to my blog to share writing tips. I thought the series would only be in the fall, but I had such a wonderful response from authors, the event spilled into February. This spring  an eBook filled with the authors' writing tips and new material will be released. You can find out more about my experience with this challenge in my February 26 post, Your Book is Just the Beginning. Subscribe to this blog so you will be updated on the progress and release of the Romance and Mystery Authors on Writing ebook filled with helpful writing tips.

  • Videos and podcasts are the buzz words nowadays. They help to build your audience and establish you as an expert/author and expose you to more readers. Videos actually do catch a surfer's attention, and the video will keep the reader at your site longer. You can teach a program or offer an interview.  I've learned to use the program for audio and then the audio can be uploaded for a podcast program. At this time I don't have a desire to commit to offering a podcasting program. I have used Power Point to make a video presentation and played with for a cartoon style presentation. I'm no expert after trying all these out, but I do plan to do more with Power Point in the future. My next big challenge to overcome is interviewing authors on Google Hangouts on Air. I will be interviewing my guest authors who want to "be guinea pigs" this spring and uploading  the Google videos to this site. I had a great time participating in a promotional video from the creative mind of Miss Mae. The official unofficial cyberspace reporter, I.B. Nosey, interviewed me about Coda to Murder. Take a peek.
Video:An I.B. Nosey Interview with J.Q. Rose

Consider learning how to make some videos for your site. There are lots of helpful Youtube videos from folks who know how to create video.  I especially enjoy watching video expert Lou Bortone. He also has courses available.

  • Book Series--After reading articles on improving book sales, the information supports the idea to use a book series to build audience and sales. It makes sense that if people like you first book, they will come back for more and tell their friends. (the best advertising you can get). Plus the more books you have to sell, the more for readers to  buy and read. I'm developing a series on vegetable gardening to try out this theory. And I'm loving it. My husband is the expert and I am the writer.
  • Finally, I discovered not to use initials for a pen name.  Yes, it's a bit late for this realization. For instance,  if you typed J. Q. Rose rather than J.Q. Rose, the search will not find my name. Nor will it find JQ Rose, because in both instances, the spacing of the letters are different from the original. Think twice if you are planning to use initials in your pen name.
Now, it's your turn to share what you have learned as you proceeded along the path to publishing? Please leave your comments or questions below. Thanks for joining me today. 

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Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing everything you've learned, JQ. One marketing tip I've heard works well is to get to know your local press. Local papers are looking for inches to fill, and if you can present them with a good story about your writing, they may very well take you up on it.
All of us authors are always doing what we can to promote. It's time-consuming but we have to keep plugging away. Good luck with all your projects.

J.Q. Rose said...

Helena, Yes we do have to keep plugging away at promotion. I have an "in" with our regional paper since I used to write for them..!! Now if I could just get "in" with the New York Times or Chicago Tribune....Hmmm...Thanks for your tip.

emaginette said...

Great post. Thanks for taking the time to share what you've learned. :-)

Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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