|CARRIE BUTLER and PK HREZO|
When Carrie posted this, I was really thinking, “I’m not going to be able to write anything after finishing the A to Z Challenge, but it came easily. I guess it was meant to be. And this seemed like a great way to share something of my story about how I began and maybe help newer writers.
So, here’s my older self writing a note to my newer self. Be sure to go to some others who are doing this. Here’s the link to the SIGN UP PAGE. It should be interesting to read their notes.
Dear Lee (the one with fewer wrinkles),
Remember the day you signed your first contract? How could you forget it, right? You’d just stepped across a line you didn’t think you ever would. You were on your way to being an author who published fiction. In the next few months you worked hard, you met your line edit deadlines, and then the book came out.
Remember, you’d arranged for a book signing at a major bookstore, but no books showed up. Not until you harangued the publisher and had them ship ten special delivery. Books came. That afternoon. Very close call.
The following year you signed another contract for a new book. Yay! Crossed another line, didn’t you? You weren’t going to be a one book author of fiction. All smiles, you flew to Florida to present a paper at the NCTE and to sign your new book at your publisher’s booth. Only. . .guess what? No new books arrived, so you signed your first one.
Did you notice a pattern? Of course, you did, but you were writing. You were happy. Well, you were until the publisher announced they were shutting down their young adult imprint. Goodbye. Nice knowing you.
And then you had the joy of wresting your rights back. That only took a few months of nastiness, but you did it, and you put your stories out as ebooks, which the publisher had refused to do. You must still be scratching your head about that one.
Looking back, those were rough days, but here’s what you learned: you can write well enough to interest people in reading your stories, with all of the changes in publishing, you have other options as an author, and you look for and take advantage of them. Most of all, you learned not to depend on publishers to get the word out about your books. You should expect some help, but a lot of marketing is up to you.
That last lesson led you to learning more than you ever thought possible about marketing. You were a nincompoop at blogging, but you started doing it anyway. You didn’t know how to use any of the social media very well. Facebook was a mystery, but you managed to understand its strangeness and began using it as part of your marketing plan. Twitter became a great resource to put out word about your blog, your books, you. I see you pop up on LinkedIn and goodreads, too. And you’ve managed to talk your books onto some bookstore shelves. You’re doing workshops and book presentation every year at bookstores, libraries and schools. So I’d say it’s a good thing you learned a bit about marketing, even if you did it a tad late.
I know you didn’t expect to have your publisher close its doors, but while that was a terrible blow, you found something out about the publishing industry that’s darned positive. Authors are the best support you’ll ever find. When you network with them, they are the first to say, “How can I help you?” They’ll blog about your books. They’ll buy and read and review them. They understand what this industry is about, and they appreciate authors who don’t give up and who offer support in return.
If you could change something about this writing journey, my bet is you’d change your preparation for the business side things. Knowing more about marketing ahead of publication would have served you well. Am I right? Having a network of people willing to give you a shout out, would have helped a lot. Of course, if you had known some of the basic writer lingo you wouldn’t have had to scramble to catch up with your more savvy writer friends. ARC? Trim Size? Galleys? You were a novice. So glad you’re not one of those anymore.
All my best, Lee (the one with more wrinkles)
DL HAMMONS is taking sign up until May 31 for THE WRITE CLUB. You might want to join.