16. Show readers a little of you.
J.R. Ward only has only, like, two blogs posted on Goodreads, but they’re stories about herself and quite entertaining. She gives us a peek into her personal life without putting her entirety on display. I know she’s married and lives in the south. She loves dogs and basketball. Other than that, I don’t know much personally about Ward and that’s fine. But when she gives us snippets of her non-author life, I feel like she’s more grounded, more approachable. We find out about book releases, we get updates, but we don’t constantly get spammed.
Another one of my favorite authors who I follow on Facebook...I'm am damn near sick of. She’s constantly sending out info about her latest release. C-o-n-s-t-a-n-t-l-y. I’d estimate about 95% of her posts are marketing related. There’s nothing wrong with that…unless you post five times a day, and those posts duplicate across several social media sites.
I feel like Ward strikes a nice balance between marketing and connecting with her readers. Sometimes she goes on a long hiatus, but when she posts, she makes it count.
17. Every outlet, give readers something unique.
I’ve read a lot of Ward’s interviews and biographies and no two are the same. It’s not like she can change what careers she’s worked, or where she’s lived, but each time, we get a bit extra, something to make it different. Compare her Goodreads profile to her website bio. Not identical. Can you imagine how many of the same questions an author as fabulous as her gets? Yet, every interview of hers I've read, I've never gotten the feel of canned responses.
There’s another author I love who has such a neat life-before-writing story. Yet, she doesn’t delve any further than that in any biography. Same bio on nearly every site. It’s a little disappointing. Not just the stories are interesting, the people that write them are too.
I’ve made a conscious effort to answer each interview question completely fresh. I may look at my previous responses, but I won’t copy and paste them. The interviewer deserves more and so do the readers.
18. It’s okay to gush about your idols.
Maybe she’s not as tenacious as I am about singing the praises of her writing idols, but it’s clear who Ward has admired and aspired to if you’ve read any of her interviews. It gives me hope. She was once a novice writer who didn’t think she could write as well some well-known writers, yet she’s carved her own niche in the writing world and fucking owned it. That’s what I mean when I say I want to be J.R. Ward when I grow up.
19. It really is possible to write and sell books.
When I started researching the writing business, especially for indies, the advice was that readers love giveaways. It’s not my thing, entering giveaways, mostly because I don’t win at anything. Wait. Once I won a coffee mug, thirteen years ago. I use it as a rinse cup for the kids in the bath tub. Anyway…I was a little surprised that giveaways and goodies were stressed so much. We’re writers. Why are we peddling non-book merchandise?
That being said, I’m prepping to send off fifteen of my books to lucky Goodreads winners. I don’t know that my attempt at giveaway marketing will pay off. It’s gotten my work in front of at least a thousand people per book in the weeks the giveaway has been running. Guess how many books I’ve sold? Not nearly enough to pay for the giveaway. Will it pay off in the long run? Will the winners be generous and leave a review for my books? Regardless, I need all the exposure I can get. And it’s kinda fun.
It wasn’t long after I started following authors on Facebook that I noticed Ward didn’t do giveaways, or goodies. She seems to write, do a little promotion, but otherwise her books damn near sell themselves. Yes, her team has worked hard to be successful and I don’t know what goes into publishing one of her books. But there’s something more than a little badass about her routine. She writes a book. That book sells. Mind. Blown.
20. Write your own damn posts.
Ok, so if anyone knows that it’s Ward’s assistant and not her posting on Facebook and Twitter, please don’t tell me. I would likely cry into my Wheaties. Or rather, my Special K Vanilla and Almond with a shot of heavy cream.
Because she favorited a tweet of mine. Four actually, cuz I tag her with each blog post since they’re all about her. I even saved the first email notifying me (okay, you got me - I’ve saved them all). Before you go thinking that’s a bit obsessed, let me explain:
I can go days without selling a single book and I have four books and three short stories on the market. It’s hard to sit down and spend hours writing and editing when there’s no sales, when there’s brutal contest feedback waiting for me in my email, when I spent a couple of hours polishing an interview and it never gets posted, when I send review requests off and receive rejections, or when reviewers agree to review my book and don’t. As much as I love writing and the world I’ve crafted, it’s hard to keep going. But remembering that an established traditionally published author followed me on Twitter (thank you Rebecca Zanetti!) and that J.R. Ward took the extra millisecond to favorite my tweet helps get me through those tough times. And believe me, in this emotionally exhausting business where your success is dependent on other’s tastes and opinions, any little bit helps. There are many, many authors, no matter how sweet and nice they are, who don’t take the time to do that.
Aside from that, with all the time I kill on Facebook, ignoring my house and kids, I want to hear from the author themselves. And yes, the constant marketing really does get old. Two of my favorite authors have an assistant that posts for them regularly. She seems extremely competent and professional, and if she had her own Facebook page, I might “like” it. But it really does take away from the post when I see it’s not from the author herself. Unless it’s pictures of hotties. I’ll let those slide.
21. Write what you know.
Writers hear this phrase all the time, and we all have our own interpretation. Some take it very literal and strive to incorporate as much of themselves into the characters and story.
My life’s awesomely boring, y’all. If I wrote what I know, it’d be about laundry, eating too much, and a lack of fashion. I write paranormal romance and while I can weave some of my life’s experiences into my work, there’s very little room for a frumpy housewife with a lot of kids.
Some writers strive to learn everything they can about something they’re going to write. Write about the circus - take a trapeze class. Write a fight scene - sign up for taekwondo. A character's a police officer - interview a cop. I would love, love, love to be able to do any of that. Alas, time and financial constraints lead me to google. The hubs used to be a cop, so I do okay there.
So what do I do when there’s a group of diverse characters with personalities and backgrounds and careers that I’ve never experienced banging around in my head?
I recalled all of my observations of Ward’s writing and interviews, and came up with my own interpretation: Only we know the story in our head, so we need to write what we know.