Thanks so much to Babette for setting up this virtual visit! I am always honored and grateful for the privilege of stepping into fellow authors’ blogspaces and sharing with their readers.
Please note: This article originally debuted at Authors Promoting Authors last year. The principles outlined still apply, and I’ve updated the post to reflect more I’ve learned since then. This topic was also the foundation of an author talk I gave just this past Saturday, so the info remains recent! J
A little about me: I, Joanna Aislinn, love reading. Writing—specifically editing—messed with the pleasure part of my passion; I can no longer get through a story without my pesky internal editor interrupting the flow. These days I’m crafting sequels to my debut novel, No Matter Why (originally published via The Wild Rose Press) and planting the seeds for future works. I’m always learning all I can about promo, the ever-changing publishing world, social media and building my brand. Somehow I squeeze in a day job, manage a home and work on raising two boys, a husband and two cats! (That may be auto-pilot.) Tennis and Fran Fine help keep me sane! J.
I come to you two-and-a-half years into having been blessed enough to be offered the much-desired contract I was thrilled to accept. Loved my editor (the wonderful Vicky Reed) and truly enjoyed the experience of seeing my story go from submitted manuscript to ready-to-sell copy.
These past months have been an incredible and major learning experience. I’m thankful for where I am and how I got here. But: if I could travel in time and do this debut thing again, I might change my approach. Armed with the knowledge and perspective only hindsight brings, this is how I’d consider doing things differently:
1. I’d wait before querying—and am still considering going the self-published route. No Matter Why started out as flashbacks from another story. Its sequel is complete (and tentatively entitled No Matter What). Because stories often take their own course, what should have been part three of a trilogy is now slated to be a spin-off, showcasing characters who showed in part two. What originally started as a spin-off seems to taking on life as Part three, a romantic suspense (and currently untitled).
Why would I wait? Because I learned one book is enough to get started, but having a list of releases to follow it is better, even more so if I choose to self-publish. Among the reasons Bob Mayer and Amanda Hocking are becoming household names in multiple writer homes.
2. I’d write more up front—for publication. This is an extension of (1). Once promotion begins—which, by the way, I learned should have started WAY before the book released—life as a writer changes. As Rene Rocco of Lyrical Press recently taught at a workshop: The difference between and writer and an author is this: an author writes for publication (and publication is an animal unto itself).
If you eked out time to write before being published, expect to have that much time less once you’ve reached that goal. Don’t fool yourself thinking you’ve reached the finish line, either. Being published is the beginning of a whole new world, folks—one in which an author’s success is pretty directly related to how much effort one puts into getting effective word out to the penny (okay dollar) public.
Making that coveted time to create new products has been my biggest challenge since I finished that first sequel. Don’t know how those authors who rely on income from their books do it. My kids are older, and somehow need my time and attention more than when my biggest job was keeping a constant eye on them. The day job gets in the way, sometimes more than others, especially when work has to come home. Hubby is around and likes to chat. And now I’m also supposed to…
3. Establish myself as a brand and create an ever-growing social media presence and possible fan base by connecting with a virtual world of folks who are working at doing the same. I blog. I interact with Facebook friends–my favorite, BTW.) I GET the amazing power of Twitter. I love making new online friends and getting to know people all over the world. And I’d harness into the power of networking that much sooner too. (Tribes offer that in a one-stop-shopping kind of set-up.) So many people are willing to share their knowledge and interact. With such a pool to draw from, answers and ideas abound all in every corner of the virtual world! How cool is that?
BUT: it takes time to do the social media stuff. People like the phenomenal Kristen Lamb, social media expert and author of We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, breaks down this other education I need to gain, along with this other thing I have to do, into manageable chunks. (Try her books. They rock, including: Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer. You will be changed for the better.) Oh, and I love blogging, but that takes time, too. So does taking some time to reciprocate by visiting your friends’ blogs and by reading the great recommendations for blogs they make. And each has the potential of unlocking another education of its own. (Yes, I just made myself dizzy too…)
4. I still toy with skipping the website; my blog functions very much like one. WordPress* makes life very easy for free.
5. I’d promote in a whole different way, based on what I’m learning via (3). And I’d get into Twitter (and tribes) much, much sooner—like, the second it popped onto the virtual map. It’s an incredible, mind-boggling tool whose power is beyond my mere human comprehension. (See below for links to my series on that monster, lol). I’d also look for more opportunities to do talks. (One of my favorite ways to connect with readers and writers.)
6. I’d wait before having the rights to my debut reverted to me. The time since I asked (January of this year) and now is all time my book would have been available for sale while I worked on point (1) above. Now, I, the author, can’t buy my own book, lol. (My son and I, however, have worked on some prototypes for covers—feedback welcome!)
7. And did I mention, I’d write more? 😉
Here’s where I hang out in the virtual world. Hope to see you there!
My blog (Currently, new posts release Tues and Thursdays—most of the time, anyway!)
My website (I like to think it’s very pretty and romantic, lol)
My Goodreads page. (FYI, I’m still working on learning how to use this one well, lol.)
My tribes: WANATribe and A Tribe of Writers (Places where all kinds of artists and writers—respectively—convene. Join us!)
*Why WordPress Rocks: Written for anyone still shy about getting that blog up and running, or someone wondering which blogging software to use. Some changes have occurred to how the powers-that-be there do things, but most principles apply.
The Potential Power of Twitter (Four-Part Series):
Thanks again to Babette for having me today! It’s possible I may be offline for a while today, but will be responding to comments as soon as I am connected again!
Until next time,
5 thoughts on “What I’d Do Differently by Joanna Aislinn”
Hey Babette–thanks again for hosting me! BTW, my son gets all the technical credit for the cover sneak-peak (and for putting up with me while we worked through the process, lol).
Good solid advice here. All of it. Interesting comment about how you would write more before seeking publication. Again…good advice to a point. It worked really well for EL James of Fifty Shades of Gray fame. The fact that her publisher was able to release all three books at once is part of what has made her such a huge success. When readers loved the first book, they were able to immediately purchase the second and third.
IF the books sell, it’s a good strategy and will benefit your sales immensely. Each subsequent book will build off the previous ones.
But if one writes three books of a similar vein and then you find out that what you’ve written isn’t commercial, or isn’t as good as you think it is and no publisher wants them, you’ve wasted time writing three non salable books. Had you written one, you could have fixed the problem.
And definitely, any writer who wants to become an author needs to get socially connected before he or she publishes. It’s one of the mistakes I made when my first book came out. (But I’ve caught up since then).
Hi Cara, thanks for sharing your thoughts. You worded some sound points too.
Agreed re: related books not necessarily doing well together, but having a variety of titles (preferably stand alone or smaller series) might create more potential sales by appealing to a more diverse group of readers. Also, I’d consider staggering releases too.
As per social networking, maybe I need to get more caught up, lol. Of course, I’d be behind in time again…
Thanks again for your comment 🙂