Erin Green Author - blog
I've been published for nearly six years, so thought I'd share a few pointers that might make author life a little easier:
1. Choose a social media name eg. @ErinGreenAuthor that you can use across each of the platforms. I have author-friends who use various different combinations across the platforms and it takes me ages to find them or tag them when I want to support their book publications. For example, Donna-MarieSmithAuthor, DMSAuthor, DMSmithAuthor, MsDonnaMSmithAuthor, Smith_DM - sick to a simple formation and use it across everything. There have been many occasions when I literally haven't been able to find them, despite repeated searches, so had to forego the idea of reposting about their new book. If folks can locate you easily, they'll willingly support you.
2. Create your website and share your writing journey as soon as you feel comfortable. Having a dedicated place where anyone can read a blog update, book news or a daily interest post is vital in helping to build your audience. Don't shy away from being 'you' and sharing your personality. Readers like to feel they know you as a person - I've learnt that over the years. My early posts seem very 'sterile and proper' - readers don't get a flare for who I am as a person.
3. Grow a thicker skin. It happens to us all but you're going to be on the end of someone else's remark. It hurts. It stings. It sticks in your memory. It surprises you when it happens but I'll guarantee it'll happen. I've had people openly say, 'I don't like your book covers' and 'I can't stand the way your Amazon page looks with loads of quotes from other authors' - both features which I am not responsible for. Or the worst yet, when an author asked me over the table at an authors' luncheon, 'how's your current writing going?' I began to answer with 'it's going well at the minute ...' and before I could say another word - she said, 'well, I don't really care!' Talk about being gob-smacked - I nearly fell off my chair!!! But then, so did she realising she'd spoken her thoughts aloud across the table! So yeah, grow a thicker skin and simply learn how to 'smile and wave'.
4. Realise that you've no idea who is reading your blog posts or social media. I kid you not but it might be the senior commissioning editor of that publishing group you've been desperate to send a full manuscript to. In which case, are you OK with them reading your last post of, 'I wrote three words today. Wrote nothing else all week. This writing crack is a doddle!' It's very honest but might the editor be a little concerned about your output and meeting deadlines if they signed you? Alternatively, I know from experience that I got my introduction to Headline PG because an editor kept seeing my social media posts and was intrigued by my daily output. She called my agent when she heard I was 'doing the rounds' with other publishing groups. My rule is simple: think Bagpuss! If you're of a certain age you won't know who Bagpuss is, or was. A fat furry cat-puss - a cuddly toy that lived in a shop owned by Emily. Anyway, to cut short stories even shorter, lost articles were brought into the shop and placed into the window for passers-by to view, and hopefully claim. The objects were dirty, broken, stained and tatty but the singing mice 'on the mouse organ' used to clean and repair each one before it went into the display window. And that is my point! Nothing goes into my Bagpuss-shaped window on social media unless it reflects me positively. I don't do politics, gossip mongering, showbiz celeb bashing or author put-downs in my shop window. I do happy-to-be-alive stuff - all polished courtesy of the mice on the mouse organ, Professor Yaffle and Adelaide the doll!
5. Protect yourself as an author mentally, physically and emotionally in order to create. I literally think of myself as a bean factory inside a giant bubble. I know that sounds strange but I do. I have input and output like any other factory, with working hours and downtime. Whatever boosts my productivity, creates happiness or is a positive experience to my life then I welcome it. If something externally hinders me, be it people, places or certain topics then I steer clear of that 'thing'. Hence the bubble in which my bean factory sits - entry is on an invite only basis, just like Mr Willy Wonka's factory! That sounds harsh, but I've learnt over the years what's good for me. I've learnt that my raw materials for creativity are art, reading, music, nature, exercise, meditation, sunlight and stars, animals, good people, good food and good sleep. I can honestly say that is my week listed right there! For the assembly line, I need space, routines and silence to 'think and do' which results in word production - thousands of the little buggers each week, I'm delighted to say. If you've stuck with me this far, you're probably wondering why a bean factory? Because for me there are few things in life as perfect as a tin of Heinz baked beans. I never buy other beans; in my opinion they don't compare. I can't see inside the sealed tin, can't see the actual product and yet I will happily pay more for the dearest baked beans, because they are worth every penny. The reason being, I know what I'm getting every single time - guaranteed and without fail. Never have I found a blemished bean, no sauce, half empty tin, funny taste, squashed beans, weird smell, watery sauce and I've been eating Heinz beans for half a century. Not once have they failed to deliver the goods for me. I want my readers to know exactly what they are getting inside 'the tin' when they open one of my books. I want my readers to have certain expectations which I meet every time they part with their hard-earned cash for my next publication. And like Heinz, I'm never going to trash-talk Cross and Blackwell beans simply to boost my own sales. That's me! Inside my little bean factory bubble, every day that I can be, because I spent so long as an unpublished author praying to be given a chance to write books.
6. Not everyone out there wants you to be a success - some folk simply want to make oodles of money off the back of your dream of 'writing a book'. Be careful. I've heard too many remarks such as 'I've finally got a publishing deal and they only charged me £4000 pounds!' This is vanity publishing, they promise you the earth, charge you for their production services and deliver you a pile of printed books for you to sell yourself. This is not a traditional publishing deal. This is not independent publishing. I frequently see services advertised for authors and my first question is - what's their track record? Is that editor known amongst the industry or simply an over enthusiastic nobody who wants to make a quick buck. That might sound harsh but they are out there, preying on us creatives who are eager to see our stories in print. Don't fall under their spell. Sometimes its not simply about cold hard cash but boosting their own reputation or association.
7. Find your tribe. In the beginning you have no idea who's who and what's what. You make friends all over this bookish place with anyone that wishes to be your buddy. After a while you realise you have a select group - your true tribe. These are the ones you can trust, they have your back, they support you in any way they can, they are thrilled to bits when you sign that new contract and they are your writing family. Find your tribe and repay their kindness with the exact same support!