"You know, it's a funny thing about writers. Most people don't stop to think of books being written by people much like themselves. They think that writers are all dead long ago - they don't expect to meet them in the street or out shopping. They know their stories but not their names, and certainly not their faces. And most writers like it that way - " Inkhheart
That was then...this is now.
Before I read the above quote last week, I knew the names of many famous authors, and the faces of only a few.
I would not have recognized Edgar Allen Poe had I strolled into that bar room in Baltimore, or J.R.R. Tolkein, unless I was privileged enough to take one of his classes at Oxford University, but I know their work as intimately as I know my husband.
There were only three authors whose faces I knew as well as their names. One is J.K. Rowling, and well...if you need an explanation, please get up from your friend's wireless laptop, chip away at your ice block front door, harness up your sled dogs and join us in civilization. The other two are J.A. Konrath (at least in profile with sunglasses) and Joanna Penn.
I think as a group, that Inkheart quote is correct - most writers are solitary creatures, and most readers know the words that moved them, not the author who imagined and wrote those words.
In the 21st Century, however this scenario has changed drastically for every writer who wants to publish her work and have it read, AND for every lover of the written word who wants to know more about her favorite writer. With the sudden ease of self publishing and the ability of indie authors to broadcast exactly what they want to say, unfiltered by publishers, we now have an amazing amount of electronically published works to devour. This basic, yet amazing change in publishing has made that Inkheart quote obsolete. If an author, indie or not, wants her books to be read, she must show her readers who she is - literally!
Monday, January 23, 2012 saw this change for me. I now know the names and faces, and have devoured the delicious work of 35 incredible writers (and counting), who have changed my blogging and writing life forever. In the hope that you can do the same, here is the cause of this wonderful transformation.
It's called Triberr.
Belonging to a tribe is a basic human need. Triberr fills that need for writers, and it allows us to help each other. I don't look at another author as a competitor, like another maternity company is a competitor for MommyLoves. So having other authors read, comment and promote my work is the most amazing thing that could happen for my message and my books.
If you are an author, and you want your work read, promote others whose work you admire, and karma will take care of the rest...no really karma is a basic function of Triberr!
Here's to a new world for authors, and once you have edited and formatted your manuscript, send it out into the world by joining the tribe!
Mary Kathryn Johnson
Author ~ Entrepreneur ~ Mom
Okay, I have a friend (no really, it's not me) who self published her book a few years back before it was all the rage, and then got picked up by Barnes & Noble Publishing - every self published author's dream come true, right
?!At the time, I had just started writing my book, Say Bump and Take a Left. How I Birthed a Baby and a Business after a Huge Bump in the Road, and I was imagining all the wonderful success that awaited me: my pick of Agents offering Publishers who fight over the right to publish my manuscript through a six figure advance bidding war
...Now a word from our Reality...My friend started emailing me asking for my opinion on "the new book cover the publishers are using". Frankly, I liked her cover better, and was confused as to why B&N wanted to change it. Didn't they choose her book because it already had success with a brand? Why would they throw that away? And that was just the beginning as my friend emailed often with changes being made to her book (along with her disappointment). But, at least she had her advance, and the publishers would be taking over the marketing, distribution and sales, right?WRONG!
She still markets her book, even today, and she still distributes and sells the version of her book she already self published
and printed in bulk (prior to the advent of POD), because, of course she isn't going to just throw them away!Lessons:3.
You accept that advance and sign your name on the dotted line, and you lose all control!2.
You are still totally responsible for marketing your own book (aka sales)!1.
Who's baby is this anyway?I thought, "This won't happen to me...(eyes glazed over slipping back into the pick of agents, 6 figure bidding war dream) they will love my book just as I've written it!)
So, I finished my book, and started sending out query letters.And more query letters...And more query letters...Sound familiar?I was despondent.
I really, really
didn't want to learn another profession all over again - I did that with MommyLoves - and I readily and gladly told everyone so when they suggested self publishing. Oh, how bitter my words tasted. If I really wanted my book to go out into the world proclaiming my little, '
2 broken legs while 8 months pregnant' life lessons, I was going to have to self publish.Enter stage left, big sigh, and dig in...I did it...Had a wonderful friend (who also happened to be a professional copy editor) edit my manuscript...Made changes, and edited again...Made more changes, including the title, and had a cover created with one of my own pictures...Learned how to format for all online readers. I self published, and never looked back.Back to the Number One Lesson I learned above ~ It's My Baby!Three months ago, I had an amazing experience with one of my readers. A gentleman who read my book, contacted me to tell me how profoundly my words had touched him and his wife. He thanked me, tearfully, for writing my experiences, and said that he and his wife were rearranging their life goals to have one of them stay home with their infant son and raise him, rather than working to pay a nanny to do so.I cannot express how touched I was by the knowledge that my words had so greatly impacted another life - three lives, actually. I wonder, would the impact be the same had a publisher taken control of my baby and sent it out into the world with their message?Who will determine the message your baby tells the world?
Mary Kathryn JohnsonAuthor ~ Entrepreneur ~ MomSay Bump and Take a LeftMary's Blog
A recent post from Stephanie Chandler on why she doesn’t send promotional blasts to her email list, sparked a realization: To have successful online communications in the social media arena, we really need to use the same regard as when talking to people in-person.
Sales Blasts. When chatting with a friend or relative, or even meeting someone new, would you consider starting every conversation with a sales pitch? Some people do. I’ve met them in the mall. Even if they don’t begin the conversation trying to sell me something, it’s pretty obvious where the conversation is headed after the “fake” one-liners that try to sound like genuine interest. Most people are turned off by this approach, but many forget it’s just as annoying to their social media followers to see a constant stream of messages selling a product or service.
Remaining Impersonal. Although it’s impossible to become chummy with everyone we meet online, the basic social media rules do suggest opening ourselves up now and then and revealing our personal lives, thoughts, fears, or challenges we’ve overcome. The online world is inherently impersonal, yet we all hunger for human connections and feeling like we’re not alone in our life experiences. Opening up seems easier one-on-one with our personal contacts, but we can also reap the benefits of sharing our humanity with our online contacts, too.
Engaging with Others. Putting yourself out there then leads to responding to others. You wouldn’t ignore someone when communicating in person; so if someone is reaching out to you online ~ or you feel someone has written something of interest to you ~ comment, reply, or send a personal message. Social Media interaction benefits you as much as it does the receiver. As long as it’s genuine and isn’t communicated with an ulterior motive - like a sales pitch - your message will resonate with your audience.
Do you agree? Do you find success online by using similar communication styles as you do with people in-person? How is it different? We’d love to hear from you.
Help Me Self Publish
Help Me Self Publish Q&A with Mary and Andrea.
The following question came from new author, Annie Shinn:
“Reading Mary's suggestions, I started a Facebook page for my book, but I have no picture to put with it. That is why I am eager for a cover. I do agree that after the editing, I may change ideas. Should I just create a generic title page for it?”
Annie, starting the marketing process as soon as you can is critical. Some authors choose to do so before they’ve even finished writing; either to determine the amount of interest in their story, or to create a ready-made audience who can’t wait to buy their book once it’s completed.
For the first time author, though this can feel like a daunting task, marketing something that doesn’t yet have a “face.”
So why not use your own?
In the past, authors needed to sell millions of books and have them turned into movies before people recognized them as the person behind the story. But, today’s social media platforms allow any of us to create those relationships necessary to have a true following. You may not sell millions of books or have your book turned into a blockbuster movie (or maybe you will), but you can certainly find quality fans that read your writings because they value your personality, point of view, and communication style.
Let them “like” you and there’s a greater chance they’ll “like” your book, even before it has a face of its own.
Help Me Self Publish