What I wished I’d known before my first book got published – by Stephanie Connelley Worlton

From Jim: Stephanie Connelly Worlton is the author of two excellent books, Hope’s Journey and Everything You Need to Know about Girls Camp: The Essential Planning Guide for Leaders – both available from Amazon and other book resellers. In the post below, Stephanie shares what she’s learned on her epic journey to become a published author. To get to know Stephanie better, check out her Kreating Krazy website at: http://stephanieworlton.blogspot.ch/

Now here’s Stephanie,
I’m going to admit a secret (and I suspect there are many new authors who share the same experience) – When I dove into the publishing business I was undoubtedly naïve. There it is, simple, yet so common. I suppose like many of my peers, I had this illusion of world tours, marketing stampedes, and huge royalty checks. I thought all I had to do was write my masterpiece, get a contract, and then everything else would fall into place. It was only a matter of time before Hollywood would be banging down my door for movie rights….

And then reality hit.

In all fairness, I know there are aspiring authors who’ve spent years researching the craft as well as the business and are in a much more informed place than I was when I sent off my first manuscript. In hindsight I probably should’ve done a little more homework. Nonetheless, most authors I meet seem to have been in my same boat, wishing they’d known just a few basic things before their first book came to life.

As they say, there is no better teacher than experience, and I hope that my experience will be a great teacher to someone. Here are the top five things I wished I’d known BEFORE my first book launched:

Writing is the easy part. – When you’re up to your eyeballs in developing characters, advancing your plot, and then editing and re-editing, it’s hard to believe that the real work hasn’t yet started. The biggest misconception I had as a newbie author was that my job was simply to write the book and the publisher’s job was to do everything else. Makes logical sense, right? A writer writes, a publisher publishes… but what about everything else? Lucky for me, my publishing company has a great editing staff and an amazing team of cover designers. Because of them, the final product comes out beautiful, with no stress on my part. But then the work starts. Marketing, networking, getting reviews, scheduling book signings, coordinating blog tours, interacting with fans (not really work, but it does take some time), and more marketing.

Marketing is mostly the responsibility of the author. – No, I’m not kidding. Doesn’t the publisher employ a publicist/marketing agent? Yes. Isn’t his/her job to market your book as their title implies? No. The job of a marketing agent is to help an author market their book, not do it for them. They support you and try to keep you on track, they encourage signings and help set them up with the book stores, but ultimately selling your book is your responsibility. There are many ways to market a book, but in today’s high-tech digital world, it shouldn’t be surprising that the most effective tools are internet based. Every author should have a website and/or blog, a Facebook page, and a Twitter account. They should also take advantage of other networking tools like Google+, LinkedIn, and even Pintrist. They should make sure their author information is up to date on book sites such as Goodreads, Amazon, BarnesandNoble, and any other site that might carry or recommend your book.

Have a webpage/blog and a following BEFORE your book launches. ¬– Timing really is everything and it’s never too early to start building an audience and creating your brand. It takes months and sometimes even years for a book to grow from manuscript to finished project. Don’t sit idly by waiting for that surreal date when your book finally becomes real! In fact, you don’t really need to have a contract or even a finished manuscript before you start building your brand. If you’re serious about writing, start sharing your talents via a blog or other method. Don’t be shy about talking about what you are working on and occasionally share tidbits of your work(s) in progress. Start following other authors and book bloggers and develop a relationship with them.

Other authors are your best friends. – There’s a weird dynamic in the publishing world that seems almost contradictory in most business models: your competition isn’t really your competition. They are in fact, your biggest cheerleaders, marketing supporters, and promotional helps. Develop a network with other authors. Support them. Encourage them. Consider joining a writing group or an author’s guild. Interact with them online and, if geographically possible, attend writer’s conferences.

Don’t be afraid to talk about your book. – Seriously. Talk about your book. Not in that annoying, every word that comes out of your mouth is about your book kind of way, but in appropriate settings at appropriate times. You know your book and its contents better than anyone else, so when you stumble upon the opportunity to say something about it, do. Don’t be embarrassed or overly humble. Most people want to know… and many of them are so thrilled to be friends with a “pseudo-celebrity” that if you’re excited about your project, they will be too.

I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of the amazing publishing community. Over the past few years I’ve had the privilege to get to know many fabulous authors and I consider it an honor to be numbered amongst their friends. I’m so thankful for the help and advice they’ve shared with me and I hope as I tuck more titles and experience under my belt, that I can be an asset to others as they have been to me.

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