Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Novel Writing 101

What I’ve learned from my first novel.

Do not give books away hoping people will read them.  People do not read books you give them, unless they are super close friends, or they think the book has them in it, or they’ll read anything, or you dedicated it to them (I’m not sure that even works.)

Of 100 people who know you wrote a book, maybe 2 or 3 will buy it.  Even fewer will put a review on Amazon.

Don’t go to Amazon everyday to check the site and the rankings, etc.  That way lies madness.

Even three years after I published the novel, people are saying, “I didn’t know you wrote a novel.”  We don’t listen well, do we?

People will assume your first novel is autobiographical, or they will think certain characters are they themselves, or someone else.  They will be wrong, and it will be funny.  A friend had her daughter read it, and the teenager kept saying, “This is just like you, Mom,” even thought the character was not her.

Be prepared to toot your own horn--extensively.  You have to be almost obnoxious about it.  I thought if I just said, “I wrote a novel.” People would be all “oh, my gosh, I have to get it.”  They often said they would, but didn’t. You have to self-promote over and over, even if it’s a trad publisher nowadays.  Go to conferences, set up book signings.  I recently attended a talk by Susan Gregg Gilmore who spoke about going all over the country, to remote book signings and library meetings.  That was an eye-opener for me.  I finally had an epiphany.  When my next two get published, finally, I will be the most in-your-face self-promoter there ever was. 

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