Connecting With Professional Writers – Growing Your Network

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Writing in and of itself is a solitary journey, especially in the beginning stages. But when we embark on that publishing and marketing stage it can be extremely difficult and a somewhat insurmountable task. That’s where we need to reach out. Find resources, use editing services, tap into education… but how do you actually grow a network of like-minded professionals short of cold-calling?

I’ve managed to meet published authors and other professionals in the publishing industry through a number of means. But it all comes down to getting involved. Introducing yourself and becoming a part of a conversation. And it doesn’t have to be about writing. Just break the ice, once that is done you can get to more important and exciting matters. Share your experiences.

I’ve attended a number of workshops and seminars and ended up trading emails with people I met there. We keep in contact through social media and arrange the occasional coffee for a chat. I find this helps with staying motivated and meeting others going through the same process reminds me that I’m not alone. Not even in my own neighbourhood.

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I’ve also joined a few facebook writers groups. These are great. We swap tips, critique each other’s works, and pass on great contacts that have been vetted. Heck even if I don’t post much there, just reading everyone else’s chats is invaluable. Additional to that, I’ve garnered great contacts through LinkdIn, and registered State literature sites. Not only do they post up-to-date information on writing competitions, postings for paid work, but also regularly release news on gatherings, seminars and workshops in my area. More and more I’m finding that writing does not have to be such a solitary endeavour.

I’ve also connected with published authors through other social media platforms and emails. Whether it be over the love of their writing, a shared review, or a heads-up on something a bit hokey going on with their book. I can’t tell you how many pirated copies of books I’ve been spruiked. I always notify the author so they can take action… We don’t want our industry leeching money when it is already so hard to make a worthwhile living from.

The concept of business, technology, the Internet and the network. A young entrepreneur working on a virtual screen of the future and sees the inscription: Social media

Growing this kind of network can provide you with great Critical Partners, references for editing services, tips and tricks for marketing your novel, and even contacts to get your foot into the door with traditional publishing houses. It also helps get the word out about your novel. Once you have released your book it can mean having the difference of a ‘Street Team’ spreading the word, and having to do it all yourself (or pay big bucks for advertising.)

If you’re reading this blog post – you already have a valuable source at your fingertips. There are authors-a-plenty with blogs of their own. Post a comment or send a direct message – generally the online community is supportive and will help you on your journey.

So don’t be afraid to reach out. Go to a workshop, attend a seminar, visit a book launch, scout out a writer’s group either in your local area or online, register with writing organisations. We all have to start somewhere, and the more friends and resources you have at your back the better chance you’ll have at success.

Stay Calm and Keep Writing!

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Book cover art – Using stock photos vs. Creating your own image.

Getting that professional edge.

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I am a veracious reader. I peruse bookstores and online stores. And without provocation, I can confidently say that if the cover looks amateurish, I completely dismiss the novel, whether it be a well-written story or not.

While I hate to admit that I suffer vanity when it comes to book aesthetics, I totally judge a book by its cover. It is one of the biggest marketing tools at your disposal when it comes to releasing a novel, so it amazes me how some authors make little to no effort in this area.

The main culprits are overused stock photo images and bad photoshopping. We’ve all seen book covers where the exact same photo has been used on at least one other authors work. It’s confusing and tends to leave the reader feeling duped. Like the author did not value their work enough to invest in an original cover. So if you do use stock photography, use a treatment to alter it enough that it looks completely different to the original and reflects the tone or your novel. If you are paying someone to create you cover art, ask about the source material, where they got it from, what it looked like. If you are investing money in you book, it better be funds well spent.

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There are some terrible photoshopped covers too. I mean, why bother? In a technological age where any 12 year old can upload quality pics on Instagram and Tumblr, you are just asking for your novel to be ignored if you are making a composite image that is poorly executed. If you want to do it yourself, take a few classes, watch tutorials online. When you think it’s done, compare it to covers of novels in your genre already available. If your answer is anything other than ‘Heck yes!’ then it’s time to start over.

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Additionally these days HD cameras are so cheap. Lighting is not so hard to work out. Take a day and snap your own source material.

The only reason I can think of as to why some of the novels I’m thinking of have bad cover art is because the author in question rushed through the publishing process. Did they have a marketing plan?

Usually the quality of the cover reflects the content – well, in the readers mind anyway. So if you have sub-par content on your cover, do you expect it to hit a best sellers list?

cover art 03Take into account typography, placement of your font. Colour, tone and the images used. Will the cover still be clear in a thumbnail? Does it stand out from other titles in the genre? Does it reflect your story? There should be no reason to rush the most important marketing tool for your book baby. Take a week to sort everything out. A good cover reveal is a great event for creating hype. Use it.

There are even websites that can design a cover for you for a low fee. Cover artists really aren’t that expensive either. Take the time. Do the research. Or if you are a control freak, get some skills and practice!

We all want you to succeed and put your book in the best possible light.

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© Casey Carlisle 2018. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

What an Author can do – apart from writing a book.

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You’ve written your novel and want to start marketing it… here’s some things to help you on your way…

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Start honing your sales speak – when people start to ask what your book is about have a brief 30 second pitch to entice your listener. You want to excite them ad encourage them to buy your book. If they start asking questions once you’re done, you know you are on the right track.

Make some bullet points about the protagonist, the challenges she faces; your genre and target market. Think of the blurbs you see on the back of books… you want the speech to be punchy, give all the relevant information and leave your listener wanting more.

Memorise it! Say it over and over out loud so it becomes second nature to talk about without stammering. Remember to make eye contact and feel excited to talk about your book – your listeners will feed off that energy.

Keep it short. Don’t drone on afterwards. Have some business cards, or bookmarks on you at all times with links and information where to buy your book, or visit your author’s page online. And leave it there! Make your listener eager to jump on line and purchase your baby 😉

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Attend events. Be it writing or publishing seminars, author get togethers, or events that are associated with your book (i.e. spiritual expos if your book is about that topic, talks at the library, festivals…) Socialise! Make friends, talk to people. I know it’s daunting, but if you want people to buy your book you’re going to have to put yourself out there. Or in the least have some friends and family come with you and do it too. Put that elevator pitch into practice.

Usually when you meet someone and ask what they do for a living, they’ll ask you back. If you say “I’m a writer.” You are always going to get asked what you write – there’s you in. Don’t blow it!

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Get artistic. Take some pictures, of your book with people and at interesting places. Get your friends and online followers to post their own. Create promotional banners and gifs. Make a bookmark. Design a big poster. The ore material you have at your disposal, the more chance you have at placing it somewhere to direct traffic to your website or online store to make a purchase. Get creative too. There are no rules to say you have to stick to tried and true methods. It’s possible you’ll reach a wider market.

You need to spend time talking about your book. Don’t just do it once, or for the month after the book is finished… marketing and promoting your book is something you need to do from here on out. There are free and inexpensive ways to get the word out. Community television, newspapers and radio, podcasts, social media, bulletin boards, explore and search these places out. And not just in your local community, look everywhere, other towns, states or even other countries. Your only as limited as your imagination.

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Maybe look into writing with someone else, or guest post on a blog. The point of this is to tap into a different audience, reach their followers. Maybe if you have a group of writers you meet with regularly you could publish an anthology: the combined force of all of your followers/fans/readers extends your reach and sales. (Especially if the other writers have a preferred different genre and target market to yours.)

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This is the flagship of your armada! Create a website. Make sure it is interesting, attractive and has all the relevant information about you, your book, and where to buy it. Have a subscribe button and collect email addresses so you can have a database of fans to sell your next book to, and email out alerts of events and upcoming releases.

You don’t have to spend money either, or be a web genius. It can be as simple as setting up a WordPress blog, or facebook page. Explore other options, there are many free web building sites, and some with low cost hosting. Take the time to do a little research and find something that will fit into your capabilities and budget.

But if you have the funds to get someone else to do it for you, make use of it. It will free up valuable time you could be doing other marketing activities – or writing the next book!

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Don’t just rely on selling your book through Amazon.com – have an online store on your website. Or get creative… see if there are a bunch of authors in your local area and host an event at a bookstore or library. There’s nothing to say you can’t set up a stall at your local markets either. The more places you can find to place your product, the better. Contact independent bookstores, they love to support local talent and will most likely create an event and promote your book off their own bat.

Start local and then keep on expanding.

Selling and promoting is like a snowball rolling down a hill, it will keep getting bigger the more motion you give it. This is definitely a case where the more effort you put in, the more rewards you will get in return.

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If you need financial help in publishing costs if you are not signed to a publisher, don’t let that stop you. Seek out some sponsorship. You could promote a book store or local business in the front or back of your novel (and on your website). Maybe start a gofundme account and link it from your website. Post excerpts or the first few chapters as a teaser and people can donate to see the book published to finish the book.

e-publishing can be free too. You make sure you read the fine print before clicking accept. There are many pitfalls that can leech away your income.

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You are only limited by your imagination!

It was good enough to write a book, so it’s good enough to come up with some creative ideas to engage an audience into buying it.

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Turn your reading into a best-selling book

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Reading for fun can also set you up for a hot-selling novel.

I am constantly asked where I get my inspiration from. The truth is, it’s some intangible place from where my imagination conjures up scenes and scenarios that are generally the starting point for anything I write. So it’s not a question I can answer readily. But I feel truly blessed to have it in abundance. But I feel it is also because I have nurtured this place through activities such as reading, challenging, criticising and exploring thoughts and places.

Reading widely certainly does feed that well of inspiration and helps you grow and explore further with your mind. And like your body, if you feed it a diet of poorly written and planned books, guess what, you’re more than likely to produce work that is similar. So be picky with the things you like to read, challenge yourself, choose authors that help you escape, or entertain, with so much out there you can find just about anything your heart desires.

So now you have a library full of great moments shared on a couch, in bed, or at the park, it’s time to use a critical eye on your reading in hopes to improve your writing (if you are so inclined).

Turn Your Reading into a Best Setter Pic 02 by Casey CarlsileWhat was it about the novel that you enjoyed the most?

Did certain sentences or quotes resonate with you?

What made a certain character your favourite?

Collecting all of the best bits from the books you read can give you a toolbox of skills for writing your own novel. Protagonists that have depth in character, foibles, and a certain moral standing that transform into someone different through events in your story. The way settings are described, the types of words and sentence length for pacing and tension. I could go on and on with lists of things I’ve garnered from reading.

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Though that’s not exactly true, but for the most part it does help broaden your horizons and force your thinking into a creative space. Or at least give you a starting point.

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It can also give you a checklist to review your writing… depending on your preferred narrative style… but I always ask a few questions like: is it engaging, is it funny, how excited am I to read the next chapter, does it make sense, where do I think the story is leading me, and so on.

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You will never type something out and have the final product, there is always a number of edits or reviews before you get that final product.

My reading habits have also helped widen my vocabulary, taught me about the tone and rhythm of a book. And, getting away from grammar and spelling, reading has also been market research. If I am planning to publish in a certain genre, I like to read as much as I can in that field to see what my competition is doing. How will my book stand against what is already on the market? Is it on trend? What kinds of things attracted you to buy this book in the first place – the blurb, the cover, a website add, a recommendation? These things will give you clues into what you are going to have to do after the writing is done. No book becomes a best seller just by handing it over to a publisher and crossing your fingers. So collect ideas and start a marketing campaign now.

If you write reviews, or read blogs of book reviews, take note on what was compelling about certain novels. What is popular. It will give you a rough trend forecast, a list of friends and associates that may help promote your novel in the future. Also, what things are other authors doing to promote their book?

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Get those ideas. Write it all down. Research your genre. Know your market… and go!

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© Casey Carlisle 2016. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Casey Carlisle with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.