As an author, I am always looking for better writing techniques and ways to develop plots, characters, and draw the emotional response so vital to any novel. If you have ever wanted to be a writer, I’m sure that you have looked online and in bookstores for guides written by the ‘experts.’ These are people who have either written bestselling novels, are highly educated in the literary field, or are merely self-professed geniuses at what they do.
My first attempts at writing were clumsy. AURA, my first full-length novel, is riddled with the kinds of errors most of these experts would cringe at. Yet, for the most part, it receives good reviews whenever I receive one. While it’s true that some people may not have realized it was Christian fiction, even though it’s clearly stated on the book page, and others feel it’s a little too short, most like it. I love every review my novels receive, good or bad because I learn more from them than any of the so-called experts. It’s you, the readers, that tell me what you like or don’t like about the books and that helps me to write the next one better.
I am not saying that you can’t learn something from the guides and lessons on the market, but don’t expect them to make you into a bestselling author. The key is to write something compelling, and that comes from your heart. You are going to make mistakes and have a boatload of punctuation, spelling, and grammar errors, but there are cheap computer programs out there that will help you with your first edit. If you are like me, you can’t afford to spend thousands or even hundreds of dollars on an editor and marketing. I am so fortunate that my daughter is not only an English teacher but highly interested in becoming an editor. She edits my books for me, and she is very good at it.
Proper editing and marketing are essential in today’s competitive market. Most of the guides will tell you to ‘save up’ so that you can afford to do both. If I did that, my books would likely have to have been published posthumously. Do you have a relative or friend that is willing to read your book and tell you the truth about it? Are you ready to let them ‘markup’ a copy as they read? It may not be a perfect edit like I feel I get, but it will help. As for advertising, do anything you can afford. Fiverr always has something in every price bracket. Most of the advertising is indeed entirely ineffective, but how else are you going to get the word out?
I laugh when ‘the experts’ talk about a mailing list. That’s great, I have a beautiful webpage/landing page with signup as they all suggest, but anyone rarely does. How do you build that mailing list? No one gives you a step-by-step guide to generating a mailing list in anything resembling a reasonable amount of time. Social Media is almost a joke today; you can beg for people on Facebook and Twitter to sign up or read your book. You can offer to send copies for free and, for the most part, they will disappear into the ether. There is simply no consistently effective advertising method that is guaranteed to bring in more than you spend. The closest thing I’ve come to decent advertising is Amazon’s Ads, and I lost money at a rate of about three to one there (it is pay per click.)
Here is my suggestion; if you have a story in you that you believe someone wants or needs to read, even if it is only one person, write it. Edit it the best you can. Self-publish it for free (almost all online bookstores allow this.) What have you lost? Time and effort? How is that different than taking a hike on a beautiful day, knitting a sweater you know no one will wear, or just reading a book? All are time and effort that you wanted to invest for no better reason than wanting to. So, write, live your story in your mind as you put it onto the page. Go back two, three, or four times editing it as best you can. Use software to help if you can’t afford anything better. Try to make or have made the best cover you can, one that catches the eye and tells a little of the story. If you have little or no money to advertise, put it on your Twitter and Facebook pages, and then don’t worry about who or how many buy.
If your goal is to live off of your writing, that’s an entirely different blog post.
Have an amazing weekend.
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