Advice for New Authors from the Experts

advice for new authorsEach month, the Nonfiction Authors Association asks a burning publishing question of the industry’s best, brightest, and most innovative experts. Here’s what they have to say! 

NFAA: What advice would you offer to new authors just getting started? 

JOANNE MCCALL

New authors are filled with questions, particularly when it comes to promoting their books. “When should I begin the process of marketing and publicizing my book?” is a question I am asked all the time, to which I typically respond with, “The very moment you have the idea for the book.” And that’s true. Even while you’re writing the book, there is much you can do to plan and prepare for when you will actually be out publicizing it. Far too many people miss fantastic opportunities because they simply had no idea, and didn’t even know to ask. And if that’s not enough, you can actually shoot yourself in the foot if you include or exclude something necessary for your strategy. For example, one author wanted to sell her financial planning book through some of the big financial institutions, but because of her strong stance on only working with fiduciaries, they wouldn’t touch her book. It would have been very helpful for her to know that going in so that she could have planned accordingly.

That said, even if you didn’t get this advice while writing your book, there is still a great deal you can do to promote it, including building relationships, planning strategies, positioning, and creating compelling hooks and sound bites, all on the way to becoming a media darling.

Joanne McCall, Media Strategist and Publicist, helps authors become Media Darlings. McCall Media Group

ORNA ROSS

Consider all your options. In these digital days publishing offers a whole spectrum of choices, from pure DIY indie-author publishing, to various forms of assisted self-publishing, to the traditional trade-publishing model. The point you prefer on that spectrum depends on your willingness to learn, your desire for control over the process, your financial resources, and what’s actually available to you. If you haven’t had a traditional offer, for example, do you want to spend your time and creative energy chasing that? Or would you rather invest it in building your own author business, knowing offers will come to you once you self-publish well?

Some of this comes down to temperament but mostly, it comes down to learning. Don’t just go with your knee-jerk response; do your research and make an informed decision. And also understand the value of your intellectual property. Don’t be in a hurry to give it away.

Orna Ross is an award-winning and bestselling independent novelist and poet, who also writes guides for other authors and creative entrepreneurs. Founder and Director of the Alliance of Independent Authors, the professional association for self-publishing writers and The Creativist Club, a support and accountability group for creative entrepreneurs, Orna has been named “one of the 100 most influential people in publishing” by UK publishing trade magazine The Bookseller. https://www.ornaross.com/

JULIE SCHOERKE

Don’t let promotion scare you. It’s not brain science. You can choose a few things you’d like to do to promote your book and focus on those and do them well. You will do better promotion if you like what you’re doing (or at least, don’t hate it). And, you don’t have to do everything. Here are some options: get to know your community of authors, booksellers and librarians and leverage those contacts to meet readers in person. Find opportunities to talk to civic/professional groups that can learn from the contents of your book and how you researched it. Write guest articles or opinion pieces in your sector of expertise for media placement and include your bio as an author at the end of the column.

Social media can be what you want it to be—if your audience is over 40, probably Facebook is your best tool. If it’s a business book you’ve written, maybe LinkedIn. Twitter is fine for connecting with other authors and for branding, but seems to be frustrating for a lot of authors. Instagram is “the thing” now—especially “my story,” but is mainly for authors who have visuals to share (it’s photo-centric) and the target market is under 40.

Julie Schoerke, Founder of JKS Communications, a book marketing firm.

TERESA DE GROSBOIS

Write every day. Write in bed or lying down. Write for the sheer joy of writing.  Not to complete something (though that is always fun), but to simply feel the joy of creating. Even if you spend just 7 minutes a day writing, your book will get done. And research shows that your creative brain is much more active when you’re prone or semi-prone. Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) was known to do most of his writing in bed. Seven minutes is a magic number. Because when you write for seven minutes one of two things will happen: either you’ll fill your pages with utter garbage (and I would encourage you to laugh, forgive yourself, and move on with your day); or your brain will switch to creative mode and brilliant intuitive writing will start to flow forth. Most often it is the latter. When you chunk your book up into small pieces, it’s easy to make progress and push through writer’s block.

Writer’s block is nothing more than fear of your own success—the most basic form of self-sabotage. It is an ironic joke of the Universe that it is human nature to be most fearful of stepping into our own dreams. Our dreams of contribution, of being a creator, of being writer. Your dreams are scarier to you than they are to anyone else. They are, after all, your dreams. Huge, outrageous, spectacular.  How could you ever be worthy of your own dreams? Yet ironically, there is no one better hard-wired to make the contribution you hold in your heart. Give yourself permission to step into your own dreams. Until you do, you are simply a dreamer. You are the one with the most passion, the most commitment, the most creativity around your dreams. And just perhaps, you are the one the world is waiting for. So write! Write with all your soul. Write as if the world depended on it. It does.

Teresa de Grosbois #1 International Bestselling author of Mass Influence; Founder & Chair — Evolutionary Business Council. www.MassInfluenceTheBook.com

AMY COLLINS

There are many types of authors and many elements that go into being a successful writer. Not all writers are book authors (and not all book authors are writers). Figure out exactly what your goals are and if you are truly a writer. If you have a great story but are not a good storyteller, you can still be an author, but perhaps you will want to work with a writer? What if you ARE a good storyteller, but you are a better storyteller than a writer? Then you need to work and develop your craft. Experts who use analogies and can tell a great story often turn INTO great writers, but it is not a given.

Experts and consultants have wonderful advice and experiences, but often they lack the writing skills necessary to truly and fully express their brilliance. It is a great idea to take a truly hard, honest look at what your skill set is and find someone to fill in the gaps. Or work hard to develop the skills and craft needed to become a good writer.

Amy Collins is the president of New Shelves Books, one of the best-known book sales and marketing agencies in the U.S., selling over 40 million books into the bookstore, library, and chain store market. For a free ebook copy of her book The Write Way, visit www.newshelves.com

ANNE JANZER

Approach the process of marketing and promoting your book with the same sense of curiosity and creativity that you brought to writing it. There is no right way to do this, and the tactics that worked last year for other authors might not fit your specific book, platform, business needs, and audience. Resist impatience and work instead on building meaningful relationships and a viable, long-term platform as an author.

Anne Janzer is an award-winning author on a mission to help people communicate more effectively through writing. Find her at annejanzer.com

If you like this blog post, you’ll love our Author Toolkit with templates, worksheets and checklists for writing nonfiction. Check it out!

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