I have now written nine books and published them with houses that run the gamut from fabulous to, well, not so fabulous. And this much I’ve learned: No one is going to hand you success on a platter. Even the best houses no longer provide the best support systems for writers. So you need to TAKE CHARGE.
Do as much as you can for yourself. Once you finish writing, don’t expect to get first-rate editing from your publishing house; you may be disappointed. Hire your own editor to edit and polish before you submit the final ms. Likewise, come up with your own illustrations, photos, even your own ideas for the cover. Make sure to get first-rate blurbs for the cover and the press releases; don’t rely on the publisher to do it. Plan your own launch campaign, using traditional media, social media and even hire your own PR person, if you can afford it.
Work with your local bookstores as your foundation. Get your website and your blog into top shape well in advance of the publication date. Be your own best PR person: send press releases to your local papers and radio stations. Follow up with phone calls. Make sure you have an effective “Author’s Page” at Amazon; it is an invaluable PR and sales tool. Lamentably, in my view at least, this brave new world of book publishing requires authors to become shameless self-promoters. If you’re squeamish about that, I well understand — I’m with you! — but be prepared for disappointment. We live in a world driven by celebrity and the loudest screamers. Every author with a blog and a Facebook page is screaming for attention. Look at me, me, me! Sad but true…
Above all, I would say this: write for yourself and those closest to you. Whatever you have to say, write it pure and true and straight from the heart. Do that and you will connect with people, and even if you connect with only a few, you can touch them deeply and maybe even change their lives forever. What writer could ask for more?
Illustration, as always, courtesy of the inimitable J.C. Suares.