The amount of “other” work involved after writing a book…is simply stated…overwhelming. Writing my novel was easy. Editing it is tough but a cake walk compared to all this other stuff I have to do in establishing myself as a writer, communicating with the public and readers, making myself more interactive with strangers, shaping an author identity as much as possible and shooting it all out there into the void of the electronic world.
Going through this process has exposed me to the plethora (college word!) of online tools and marketing strategies available for free or nominal fees for authors and writers. Actually, there are almost too many tools. OK, who am I kidding? There are flat out too many freaking tools. There is a point when you have so many options available to you that it becomes crippling…so you make no decisions and do nothing instead. That’s so much easier. But then…you wrote this great book, a piece of your heart and soul, and no one knows about it because of how intimidating this “other” stuff is. Well, your mom knows, but that’s it.
My publisher, French Press Bookworks, an imprint of Pen Name Publishing, is a small, independent (or micro) press. Most authors out there are not signed with “the big 5” publishing houses, and French Press provides training and tools to not only its own signed authors but also to self-published and other independent authors trying to maximize their writing’s exposure through online means.
Recently, I sat through a video that taught me how to wade through the “social media sludge.” This is going to be turned into course made available through French Press to other authors and writers. (It’s not yet available.) A work book, spreadsheets and other tools will be available, and these courses teach you how to organize yourself, organize your blog posting and topics, set up scheduling of your social media accounts, keep track of all your information (usernames, passwords, websites, shortening websites, aps, emails), and maximize your efforts and minimize the time it takes you to put your work out to a larger and targeted audience. It is still overwhelming, but once you get started, it is very helpful to you.
In this effort, I am working on the next organizational project: putting together my goals. I need to figure out what kind of author I want to be. Some just want to focus on online sales. Some are looking for fame and fortune. Some want their books in brick and mortar stores. Some want to just put something out there, a hobby they want to share. I personally see the value of all of these things…but just like writing a book, what your goals are, is a very personal and individualized thing.
The foundation of any business goals that I will have as an author is this: I want my books to touch someone’s heart. I want a reader to see themselves in some of my characters. I want my novels to make readers get lost in someone else’s life for a while and maybe think about their own lives or about the lives of those they love. I want them to connect to the story in some way. I also want to meet other authors and writers and people who read and learn from them, maybe even make a friend or two, find “my tribe” – as Jerry Seinfeld calls it. The business side of this industry is different to me. It’s gravy.
I have a day job that I go to every day. I’m paid to do it, and I contribute to something important. But writing, to me, is not a job. At all. Like other writers – no matter how or what you write: a journal, a blog, poetry, short stories, articles, books – it’s how I experience my own life, how I make sense of it, how I explain it to myself, and how I know that I am.