A note to new authors . . .

A note to new authors . . .

To new authors.

It’s tough love time. Seriously. You need to get organized and realize it takes so much more than a great book to make it these days. If you’re confused on what to do, please feel free to keep reading.

The market is inundated with books right now. It’s not just affecting you as a new author trying to break through in this chaotic world, but it’s also affecting us ‘oldies’ who have been doing it for the last five – eight years.

I’m not posting this from a stance of ‘holier than thou’ but rather a ‘tough love’ one. I recently offered my Facebook page up to 180 new authors. I would do a party and give them each a post to showcase their release to my readers. A small hand that might not do anything but was worth helping them get some extra visibility. Like I said, this world is tough now and every little bit helps.

In the course of gathering their information, I realized that a majority of them didn’t know the following (please note: I am saying some, not all):

  1. They didn’t know what I mean by ‘write me a post’ for Facebook

  2. They didn’t know what I meant when I asked for their ‘links’ 

  3. Some emailed me upwards of ten times asking ‘is this what you mean’ or ‘what what is xyz’

I don’t mind answering questions for new authors. I never do. But there comes a fine line between asking questions and the you being too lazy to figure it out yourself. As a new author, when a blog or fellow author or a reader offers to give you help, you need to be professional. I can’t stress this enough. This is a business. You may be the most talented author in the world, but if you don’t have a business sense and approach it as such, you are going to miss A LOT of opportunities. You need to come with your best foot forward on the first try because we (us, as authors and our books) are all a dime a dozen these days. If you don’t have your shit together, a blogger might not want to wait for you to get it together and will move on to the next author waiting in line. Because believe me, there is a line.

Another thing (and this may just be a personal pet peeve): You are new, so that means you are in the stage of building relationships. And believe me, your relationship with other authors and bloggers is just as crucial to your success as your relationship with readers… so please, email me yourself. If you’re trying to create those relationships, don’t have your ‘PA’ make the initial/introductory email. To many, that says you think you’re too important to reach out and make the connections yourself. It tells the recipient that you just want ‘something’ (i.e. posting your links) from them for free. They want to get to know you, not your PA. You are the creator of your product and therefore your best sales tool.  I’m not saying once there is initial contact, your PA can’t intervene, but for the introduction, being personable, being you, is what is going to get the best response from me or another blog/author. I get that we’re all busy and you might have a PA to help you market your first book . . . That’s perfectly okay and understandable, but remember, this is about building long-term relationships. And if you don’t take the time to talk with the author/blogger, their relationship is being built with your PA, not with  you. So when your PA moves on to the next author or becomes an author themselves (which often happens), their loyalty and relationship is with the PA, since you didn’t invest the time…so guess who they move on with? Yep, your PA.

So I’ve said all that and you’re nodding your head agreeing that you don’t know some of these things, but you’re new, so how do you learn? Here’s a few pointers and suggestions:

-Act like this is a business. First and foremost. Be professional at all times.

-Study those authors you like or want to be like. Stalk their social media. See how they construct posts. Notice how often the author you are following posts.

-Notice their teasers are not pirated pictures with text slapped on them (because the last thing you want is to be sued by a photographer).

-Notice their interaction with their readers.

-Learn how to shorten links. This sounds somewhat silly, but no one likes seeing a three line URL link. The short links are more professional. And if the blogger/author wants to add their own affiliate links, they can do so whether the links are long or short (See Bitly. Owly. Smarturl, etc. to shorten links).

-When you reach out to blogs or authors, you make sure you know their name, and don’t just cut and paste the same damn form letter 100 times without changing a thing. You act like you care to know them even if you really don’t. I can’t tell you how many emails I’ve gotten from new authors in this promotion I’m doing, where they have called me Katy, Kathy, Karen, and Kristen. . . I get it, I use my initial K. so it can happen. Personally, I’m not offended by it, but if you’re emailing a blogger to read an ARC (i.e. an advanced copy) and don’t know their name when their name is part of their blog title, I assure you they won’t give you the time of day. Research the blog beforehand and make sure you personalize your correspondence instead of using ‘Hey babe’ or “Hey chick!’

-Create relationships with other up and coming authors and/or bloggers. Band together and cross promote with them. Make them your tribe because they are the ones who are going to help push and promote you long term.

YOU put the leg work in and don’t expect an email asking an author/blogger you’ve never communicated with before to post the links for you. We’re asked daily to do that. Besides, it’s going to take a lot more than another author/blogger posting your book to find success.

-This is YOUR DREAM. You are the one who is going to make it for yourself. Not someone else.

-Communication is key. Think before you hit send. Make sure your emails and messages are well thought out so that you don’t have to send ten more to explain each subsequent one. Just like you, we are all crazy busy…and so trying to piece together ten emails and what you mean from one to the next is not always our priority. A blog gets a hundred emails a day asking about reviews and ARCS. They like all the information in one place. Not ten emails. Believe me, they favor authors who make their lives easier, not harder.

-No one owes you anything. Just like no one owes me anything. I don’t care if you’ve been doing this ten years, ten months, or ten days – no one owes us anything. Not a sale. Not a page read. Not a review. Is that what you’re striving for? Of course. But at the end of the day, no one owes it to you. Regardless if you are a new or an ‘old’ author, entitlement in any form is ugly and a major turn off.

-A simple THANK YOU goes a long way. Sure you’re busting your butt and are tired as hell, but when someone helps you, a simple thank you is appreciated. It’s sad that they are so few and far between these days that it gets noticed when you give one, but it does. It truly does.

-Treat readers with respect. Treat bloggers with respect. Treat reviews –both good and bad – with respect. Treat other authors with respect. I can’t stress this enough.

-If you don’t succeed, try again. Lame? Yes. But I’ve failed a hundred times doing this writing thing. You need to learn from your mistakes. Move on. Better yourself and your writing with the knowledge you gain.

-Mistakes happen. I’ve published a book with errors in it before. We all have. To err is human and you will NEVER catch all the mistakes… but heed this warning: It is not your editor’s fault. It is not your proofer’s fault. It is not your beta’s fault. There is nothing uglier than an author going on social media blaming others for something wrong with their book. Remember what I said before – be professional at all times.

-Don’t ask other authors about lists (i.e. NYT, USA Today, etc) . I get emails all the time from new authors who have yet to publish their first book, asking me how many sales they need to hit the lists. So . . . if you’re publishing to hit a list, then your writing for the wrong reasons. Yes, it’s easy for me to say when I have hit the lists . . . but they were never even a thought when I first published Driven. I would have laughed at anyone who had even mentioned the possibility because it wasn’t even on my radar. So please, don’t publish to hit a list. Publish because you love to write, you love what you’ve written, and you want others to fall in love with it as well. 

Is this the holy grail of what to do? Hell, no. Do I know everything? Absolutely not. I’m still learning every day. I’m still listening to my tribe and learning from them. I’m still putting the time in to watch trends, adjust, change, and reinvent. That’s how this industry works – but I know it is not a measure of my success. Have my last books been as successful as the Driven Trilogy? No. And they probably never will be. The times have changed. The market has more choices for readers. The competition is more abundant. But that doesn’t mean you stop trying. If this is your dream, you learn every day, with every chat you have, with every post you read, with every new thing you write.

I’m far from perfect. I struggled at the beginning and still do in some aspects right along with you. I knew no one when I started, but I knew how to hustle and work hard and studied other authors. I didn’t copy them but rather took in the things they did and reinvented them to work for me. And yes, a little luck meeting opportunity at the perfect time helped as well. 

So read this, take what you want from it, or completely ignore it and forge your own path… but after trying to organize this party for new authors, I realized how many people were struggling with knowing what to do or where to go after typing THE END. 

So congrats, your book has been written. The easy part is over. Now the hard part begins.

I wish you luck!

K.

(aka Kristy. It’s Kristy. Not Karen. or Kathy. or Kristen. 😉)

And if you’d like to meet some of these new authors and find a new book to read, make sure to head over to my Facebook page this Friday, July 21st starting at 9 am EST to check them out. A new book/author will be posted every 10 minutes throughout the day.

43 Comments

  1. As a new writer I appreciate you and the information that you posted!!! Thank you. This is stuff that’s not taught but trial and error. Thank you luv!!!

  2. Thank you.

  3. Thank you for the opportunity x

  4. Thank you Kristy, thank you for thanking you time to write such an informing note for all us newbies. I strive to be like you and value you opinions.

    Shelly

  5. Yes! Thank you, Kristy!! You are the author I emulate. You’re the only author that I have post notifications turned on for or see first (and trust me…my phone goes off a lot because of your many posts). I love it!! I love that you use the word “hustle” because that’s exactly what it is. I’m trying my best and giving it my all. You are definitely stalked on my end, so thank you for the words of wisdom. They are appreciated and accepted like seeds. They have been planted and are being watered daily. Keep writing all the beautiful words…and I will keep reading, buying and emulating. Thank you for also doing the new author promo and providing me the opportunity to participate in the new author post. Made my whole year!
    PS. HAWKIN is my favorite!
    Cyndy Lally

  6. I love this post! I hope authors take notice and LEARN…. this is a business; take the time… due diligence…learn, develop, grow relationships! AND PLAN

  7. Writers, listen up! This is some fantastic advice!!

  8. Awesome info! As a blogger, you hit on everything that I wish all people did! I hope that some authors heed your advice and find success!

  9. I just did an interview where I tried to say just about these same things. In today’s book writing world, writing might be as much as 40% of the overall picture, maybe less. When it comes to you – you are very kind. You open your doors to everyone. I didnt see your party or I would have jumped on it. You offer so much to every author and every genre. Big giant hugs and very well said! <3 <3

  10. Loved it! Wiser words were never spoken…on the topic that is:)

  11. Thank you for the post Kristy 🙂 I’ve been following you for quite a long time and have always loved your interaction with your readers (especially AS a reader!). You’re an inspiration to me as a writer and I’m so glad to see this from you. Hopefully someday I will be given the opportunity, but until then I will continue my series because I love it <3

  12. So much love for you and for this blog post, Kristy!

  13. Kristy, What a wonderful and very informative blog post. It’s a keeper. Thank you. Jayne

  14. Thanks Kristy!

    Great advice, I’m still learning. Especially learning the value of the tribe. How to both tap into the vast knowledge available and also how give back. Will be interested to see what happens on Friday, every ten minutes is amazing!

    cheers,
    Shirley

  15. Thank you! Most of this I’ve realised already but it’s nice to read it in one concise piece.

  16. Well said, Kristy! This advice could be applied to any profession/client relationship. Much love coming from my corner of Texas! <3

    -Anna

  17. I just wanted to say a big thank you! I read your post & took lots of it on board. I think you’re doing a great thing in showcasing new authors, but I can’t even imagine the amount of time and effort it’s taking you, for something that will only benefit others. So thank you again! Carrie xx

  18. Absolutely agree with everything you have said! As a blogger it’s all important, I don’t mind the copy and paste posts so much but yes names and politeness is all key. Also don’t put your book posts in visitor posts on blog pages, message the blog and politely ask them if they will share. Posting on their visitor posts is considered rude, or at least to me it is.

  19. AMEN! 😀

  20. Dear Kristy,
    Thank you so much for words of encouragement! I literally was just asking God for some inspiration, to send me a clear sign to help guide me and I just happen to come across your letter above. I’m not an author but I do appreciate your positivity and your sincerity to offer insight and advice for others struggling to make their dreams come true!
    For sure you are one my favorite authors!
    Sincerely,
    Dana

  21. When I first started publishing 8 years ago, At least I assumed enough to know that other people’s time, if they were as successful as I thought they were, was very valuable. I made my questions short and sweet. And a thank you always followed. Also short and sweet. When I see “open mic” bottomless questions like “I’m a new author, can someone tell me how to go about publishing my book” I run for the hills, or the closest coffee shop. I tell people much of what you do. Join groups, write with others, shadow authors, find a mentor, take classes and advice given. Some of us have been there for a while and know the ropes, but when we make suggestions, albeit those that have worked for us, for crying out loud (that’s me!) try it before you conclude it won’t work or a waste of your time. Trust me, you are not going to skyrocket to the bestseller list because you have a voice.
    If you have never networked before, you are going to have a very hard time in this business. Publishing is the epitome of the art of networking. What you say and do, precedes you whether you network or not, all the rest of us DO. SO be respectful, earn your chops, and DO NOT GOSSIP. The very last thing we need is another Drama Queen. It is the kiss of death.
    So your advice, Kristy, comes at a very good time.
    I will add, be generous with your “Thank yous”. Appreciation is in short supply in this highly competitive industry. The best way to show appreciation for the help you’ve received from another author is to Pay It Forward.
    And good luck.
    Anytime I can help you, Kristy, or any of your proteges, let me know. I will happy to give a helpful hand to another. ~MW

  22. Hi Kristy,

    Such a great post for new authors<<that means me 🙂
    I've struggled with many of the items you mentioned, especially links. I'm getting better at sending and shortening them, but wow…not easy for me.

    I had no clue that new authors had PAs. My PA is my loyal husband, cooking for me, mixing drinks and keeping my cat from trashing my writing desk. 😉

    I do like to thank people, so thank you for all this info and I'll be visiting your FaceBook page tomorrow.

    Anne Marie

    • Hi Anne Marie,

      I, too, am a lucky one whose husband is support person, cook, and learning how to market my books. No cat, though. Here is a link I use to shorten urls. Try http://www.tinyurl.com. It’s very easy to use. Wish you the best with your writing. Maybe all of us who left Kristy a reply should form a support group!

      Jayne

  23. Great post! So much truth and advice! Thank you for sharing!

  24. Thank you, Kristy! This has been very helpful!

  25. I’m not an author, simply a reader and a fan. I’ll NEVER forget being halfway through Driven (late at night and completely obsessed) and I went on to Goodreads and sent you a PM…. just a note telling you how much I loved the book and the characters… and much to my surprise you answered me back! It was a short back and forth, I’m sure it took you no time at all and you’ve certainly forgotten the conversation by now, but I haven’t! You were kind, you took time to answer and engage and I was hooked. An author who writes great stories AND took time for a single reader? Yup! I was a fan… I’ve read every one of your books.

    So take note new authors (and everyone for that matter), a little kindness and professionalism goes a long way! Thanks for the reminder Kristy!

    • Yay, Shauna. I’m always dumbfounded when someone writes to tell me they loved my books. I’m so thrilled, I can hardly wait to answer. That’s what makes this profession so much fun!

      Jayne

  26. Thank you so much for organizing this new author shout out!

  27. Thank you for your honesty.

  28. This post was amazing. I was so impressed by your offer to new authors to share for them, and I just can’t imagine how anyone would not go above and beyond to get that help from an author with the experience you have. I think tough love is exactly what the community needs now. Just in the 4 years since I published I’ve seen the tilt. This was spot on.

  29. I think that participants need to remember that they are 1 of 1000. Most of their questions can be answered by google or asking in groups. I recently did an event for Children’s Authors and limited it to 200 participating want-to-be writers and I averaged over 100 emails within the first twenty minutes when all of their questions were clearly answered on the website.

    The big question is- HOW BAD DO YOU WANT IT? DOES THE DESIRE TO BE AN AUTHOR BURN INSIDE OF YOU? If you answered YES, then you probably realized that coming off as an informed, knowledgeable writer is always more impressive and you did you research and don’t need to have your hand held.

  30. Excellent post. Thank you!

  31. I feel like I am alone here but this post seems a bit mean spirited. I’m not an author in the group doing takeovers on your Facebook but if I was this would feel hurtful. Maybe it’s just me.

    • It was intended as being mean at all. I’m not that way. There were many authors who knew what they were doing … and there were many who didn’t. Just as with experienced authors … and by no means was it intended to mean I knew exactly what to do . . . but I receive at least 20 emails a week asking me what to do or where to start. There is no set plan. There is just research and trial and error. Many of the newer authors I have encountered think all you have to do is ask other authors to post for them and they will sell copies. It is not that easy. In now way did I intend for this to be mean spirited because I’m not like that. In fact I spend way too much time helping other authors when I should be writing.

  32. Thank you for this valuable information. It is very hard for new authors and I have been doing a lot of leg work to ensure that I come off as professional as possible. I appreciate it when others that have walked the path that I am trying to wade through take their time and help and tell us some of the basics to have in place. Some of the things you said to so I have been doing already and it made me feel good to know that hey I am on the right track with this thing. Keep helping us because we need it.

    Thanks again,
    CF

  33. Dear Kristy, As one of the authors that will participate in your promo event, THANK YOU!!!!!!! As a new author, I have found the Romance Author Community to be so welcoming and helpful. I know I will make mistakes…I already have… but I brush myself off and try again. I truly appreciate the opportunity you have afforded us and I hope to repay the kindness someday! Cordially, Cate.

    P.S., thank for mentioning what the “K” in “K. Bromberg” stood for….😬

  34. This is a wonderful post, Kristy! I’m a big fan of your work and I think it’s amazing that you try to help new authors! <3 xoxo

  35. Thank you! Anybody that takes the time to help new authors like you and a few other people I have met online are like wonderful gifts to people like me that are starting out. I wish my book was ready, but I have taken the leap and have just started writing. Thanks for helping people like me. 🙂

  36. Well said, as a blogger I’m inundated with emails, and I do delete the generic copy paste email no thought put in type. I take time consuming running a blog, and we’re promoting their books for free. So the least you expect is a bit of personality and effort.
    As a PA. I have always been mindful of being thoughtful but also stating that it’s on the authors behalf, I copy in the author so the blogger can contact directly if they wish to speak to her.

  37. Brilliant advice throughout, Kristy…thank you very much. Success is earned like anything worthwhile doing in this lifetime. May you find only the best. 🙂

  38. Hi Kristy,
    first of all, THANK YOU. This was a great read with mahoosively useful advice.
    I am an Indie Author, a newbie who does everything myself. No PA, no friends in the business, no cover designer, trailer producer, or twelve-year-old, tech-savvy, social media genius in the cupboard under the stairs, and yes, the hard part is most definitely the marketing.
    Your piece has given me a boost because it enforces my belief that I’m on the right track, already doing some of the things you emphasise as important. But, and it’s a big but, learning is an every day occurrence and quite possibly the most exciting part of being an author.
    Thanks for taking the time to help us newbie’s out. It’s very much appreciated as are your books.
    Lisa 😉

  39. Hi, Kristy! (Yea, I did it! I’m the local author at Nora Roberts’ signing on July 22 that kept calling you K. LOL!)

    Here are my two-cents worth of tough love to consider.

    I always quote my three R’s when asked about self-publishing.

    First, research the world of publishing as if your life depended on it. By doing this, I avoided a lot of pitfalls along with making wise investments that are now beginning to pay off. For example, I found my cover designer and editor by researching the credits found on the copyright pages of many of my favorite best selling novels.

    Secondly, one must develop a resilience against negativity. I read once that it can take only one negative comment to kill a dream. Don’t let an insensitive remark ever keep you from your passion for writing.

    Lastly, at times reality can be a cold-hearted bitch. I had visions of becoming rich and famous once my readers told their friends about my books. The reality is many people share their favorite books with others, and those anticipated sales fly out the window.

    I end with the words of American novelist, E. L. Doctorow, “Writing is an exploration. You start with nothing and learn as you go.”

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