By request, I’m going to post some lessons and tricks I’ve learned in the process of going through this whole writing-novels-while-promoting-books thing for the first time. This will be a fairly long post with lots of links and other resources and a choice of first baby steps to take at the end. I’m learning as I’m doing, so please keep in mind that I’ve not yet applied all of the knowledge I’ve gathered. And I know many veteran novelists probably have more tips to add—and I hope you will in the Comments.
Some of the most valuable information I’ve learned comes from the following people and places. (I’m giving Twitter handles, as well as websites, because, as you’ll see, I’m going to suggest you get on Twitter, if you aren’t already.)
Bryan Thomas Schmidt, @BryanThomasS, a science fiction/fantasy writer and social media guru—lots of great information at his blog under the heading Write Tips http://www.bryanthomasschmidt.net
Tamela Buhrke, @iwisecoach, a book marketing coach—lots of great stuff at her blog, much of it free, remember she makes a living at this http://www.iwisecoach.com
Jenny Blake, @jenny_blake, an author and coach—she has so much to help you, tips and templates, but especially her awesome The Ultimate Book Marketing Master Spreadsheet! http://LifeAfterCollege.org
These are a few of the major sources I’ve turned to again and again, but there are many more out there. I’ve found that the International Thriller Writers is not only a great professional organization for writers of crime fiction, but it’s members share great tips and opportunities with each other in the their two discussion forums on the ITW website, http://thrillerwriters.org/, and in their forum on Linked-In, where I met a New Zealander crime writer and blogger who interviewed me for her blog. Sisters in Crime is another terrific organization that provides tons of knowledge, including free books and videos on marketing and promotion, on their website, http://www.sistersincrime.org, and at their branch meetings.
Novelists, Inc., has membership requirements that will prevent a novice from joining (you have to have published two novels), but they provide some fabulous information on book publishing that includes resources for book promotion for free to one and all on their website, http://www.ninc.com/, the entire notebook that’s provided to their annual conference attendees.
If you check out all these websites and blogs and follow the many links they provide, you’ll very soon be feeling overwhelmed by all the information and possibilities for promotion that you learn about. Don’t despair! As I mentioned earlier, there is Jenny Blake’s awesome book marketing spreadsheet to help you keep track of everything. Download it right now, and give yourself permission not to do anything with it right away. Just knowing you have it there will help with the panic attacks as you learn how much there is available to you. Also from her great blog, I learned about ToDoist, http://todoist.com, a free online to-do list and tracker that lets you break things up into projects and tasks within them and set deadlines and reminders, etc.
The first step is to check out these wonderful resources, or as many as you can without feeling totally overwhelmed. I’ll be giving some tips that you may want to implement along the way, though. And the first is—know that you can’t do everything all at once! Start where you are, and add one or two things at a time. As you get those under control, add another one or two. No one can go from zero to Queen or King of the Marketplace overnight, and we never want to lose sight of the fact that writing these great novels is our first and highest priority.
The first thing I did, since I was already on Facebook and had a blog, was to set up a Twitter account. So I suggest that, depending on where you are in your online presence, you set up a Facebook account, a Twitter account, or a free blog. Choose one only, at first, please. If you already have one or more of these, choose one of the others. Just take baby steps at first, and you’re more likely to experience success that you can build on as you expand your online presence. Eventually, we’ll link them all together, but we need to have ourselves firmly established and comfortable in each first.
For my blog, I use Blogger, http://www.blogger.com, but WordPress, http://wordpress.com/, is another free blog-hosting site. From what I’ve heard, it’s a little easier to turn your Blogger blog into a website later, but I’m going on hearsay from folks who’ve used both. I haven’t.
If you opt for Twitter as your first step, http://www.twitter.com, you can start by following me and the great resource people I’ve listed above. Except for Jenny Blake, we all follow back. I believe Jenny just has so many followers that she can’t get to it quickly any longer. Another person on Twitter that I would recommend you follow is Molly Greene, @mollygreene. Her website and blog, http://www.molly-greene.com/, offers tons of information, especially on Twitter. Molly was my mentor on Twitter when I first entered that world and terrifically kind and helpful to a newcomer.
I’ll go into the next steps next week. And tomorrow, I’ll be over at Writers Who Kill, ranting about the threats to our public library system right now. Never forget what a resources they are always to the writer!