Advice to New Authors

by Rachel Hauck

In this ever changing world of publishing, e-books on the rise, the popularity of electronically self publishing, it seems the author has to be writer, promoter and marketer. When I was first published seven years ago, there were twitterings of an author spending half of their advance on promotion, but I thought those were just rumors. Heresay. What “one” author had to do.

But it’s true. Then and now. When you get your first contract, plan on setting aside a third or a half for promotion. Consider it seed money for your career. Get it out of your head now that you’re writing to earn income for the family. You’ll be disappointed if you do. You’re writing to tell great stories. You’re writing because it’s your heart and what you love. You’re writing to eventually make some money.

A novelist career is a slow build of readership and dollars. In fact, the two are tightly correlated.

What do you do with those marketing dollars you set aside? Giveaways. Subscribe to a newsletter service. Pay for a good web site design. Hire companies like LitFuse to host a blog tour for your book or run a contest for you. Give away a Nook or a Kindle. Buy business cards. Bookmarks.

You want to start touting your book about two months before the release date. Post on your Facebook and Twitter. FB and Twitter are free and a GREAT way to build relationships with readers. And I do mean relationships. Social media is a conversation not a super cyber market where you only talk about your and your books. Or try to get people to buy something from you.

If you write have a category book that has a shelf life of one month, run a blog tour that month. If you’re book is a trade and has a longer shelf life, you might consider running a blog tour the month of your release and maybe a few months later. I always run my blog tours three months after the release date. Whatever promo or marketing publisher might have done would be fading by then as they moved on to their next quarter releases so I jump in and boost my books with a blog tour.

Spend about fifteen minutes a day on social media. Twitter a few times throughout the day. Look at others tweets and retweet them. Post on your Facebook. Answer comments others might have posted. Don’t stress over it, but try to stay engaged.

Managing your time is key to success. Whether writing a book or not. Your number one job as a writer, besides carrying for your family, is to write a great book. Before promo and social media, write a great book. Don’t get distracted with other things. If your writing suffers it’s hard to pull together again and get focused. Since we all work differently and have different responsibilities, it’s hard for me to say, “This is how YOU must mange your time.”

I have no children. I can write all day. I can goof around all day. I can do pretty much what I want. So if I were to say, “write every day from noon to five,” that might not work for you.

Here’s what I can tell you. Get a hold of your time. Schedule your days. Some people can schedule down to every 15 minutes! Yowza! Not me. I schedule in blocks. Morning. Afternoon. Evening. But I know what needs to be done and about how long it will take me to do it — more or less.

Talk to your husband and kids. Figure a way to involve the family in your success as a writer. Some authors have office days. Those are the days they work on the business, answer interview questions, email, do promo or marketing. I’m not that popular of an author to really need a day to get in touch with all the throngs who want to talk to me, soooo, I answer interview questions and email as they come in.

I have a program called Concentrate that shuts off my internet for whatever time I specify. When I’m on a deadline or need to get focused and finish a project, I launch Concentrate. I have it set for 45 minutes. Every 15 minutes, this computer lady comes on and says, “You are brilliant, keep working.” LOL. It’s great. When I get the twitch to goof off on the internet for a few seconds, I realize I can’t because of Concentrate, and I keep working. Yeah, I could turn it off but somehow that feels like cheating to me.

It’s important for writers to stay involved in life, in our families, in our churches and communities. Don’t say yes to everything that comes your way. No is a good word. But pray and ask the Lord to show you what He’s called you to do.

Cut off the noise like TV. Really. Amuse is the opposite of muse which is what we must do to write. I love movies and a good TV show. I learn from them. But in my house we only watch DVDs or Netflix instant. There is no nightly TV watching or channel surfing. When I had that option, it was a huge distraction. Five o’clock? Rerun of Gilmore Girls and I’ll be if I just didn’t quit working to watch.

Stop the excuses. If you’re a soft, giving personality, learn to toughen up and say no. If you have an addiction to TV, cut the cable for awhile. If you’re doing too much, let go of a few things. Don’t feel guilty or condemned. If God’s called you to be a writer, He’ll give you time to write. He’s not called you to do all and be all to everyone else so you don’t have time to write. Or so you have to sit in a corner of the house at midnight with your laptop on your knees writing while everyone else sleeps so you can get your word count. No, He’ll give you the time. Don’t fill it up with other things.

Writing is a job. Do it with excellence. Manage your time. Pray hard.

And whatever you do, don’t quit.

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New York Times, USA Today ​and Wall Street Journal best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She serves on the Executive Board for American Christian Fiction Writers. She is a past ACFW mentor of the year. A worship leader and Buckeye football fan, Rachel lives in Florida with her husband and ornery cat, Hepzibah. Read more about Rachel atwww.rachelhauck.com.