Publishing Update

Every writer I know has trouble writing. ~Joseph Heller, American author

Not so long ago, I thought writing a novel would be the hard part.

Struggling to make sense of varied plot lines, fleshing out believable characters, choosing a point of view to tell the story from, and tying up loose ends felt like a mountain to climb.

And there were all those rules.

Magazines, books, and the Internet offer lots of advice for wannabe writers.

Helpful advice, to be sure, but overwhelming to someone wanting to do the right thing in order to be published.

Someone like me, who had no MFA in writing and who was trained as a journalist — a fact-finder, not a weaver of stories.

Then there were the technical issues. Computer crashes, glitches that caused whole sections of prose to disappear, frustration when the Internet went down.

Somehow, my novel got done. Somehow, I found a publisher.

And we went back and forth more times than we can count getting my story ready for print.

Not because my writing needed heavy editing, but because of formatting.

All those technical issues conspired to bring about differences between the version I sent my editors, what they edited and returned to me, and over and over.

Gremlins, I guess.

But eventually that, too, got done.

Now I’m waiting on the published version to arrive from the printer.

But I’m also wondering about the marketing I’ll need to do because publishers (for debut authors, at least) rarely do all the promotion needed to make a book a success. Much of that falls in the writer’s lap.

So I’m back to research.

The image of me sitting curbside with a tin cup and a sign proclaiming “Buy my book … please!” comes to mind (and makes me shudder). Surely there’s a better way.

Those who’ve trod this path before me — any advice?

Those who are readers and social media consumers — how much begging can you stand?

29 thoughts on “Publishing Update

  1. Isn’t it just wonderful to have this opportunity to learn about marketing and more about publishing your first novel?? Of course, you’ll make sure all your friends have copies to review to their friends. And twitter the heck out of it. Do you have local bookstores in your area where you could forge relationships? In Chicago, we still have a few that encourage new authors to come and have signings and read from their books. And while this may sound just a little off the tin can approach…I did buy a book from a new author at large flea market and it was really good. And Church…another great place to get the word out. Beth Ann Brown (It’s Just Life) promotes new authors all the time and started a Free Little Library in her town—lots of new authors sent her their book for the Little Library. These are little tiny ideas—maybe nothing muchers—but perhaps they will spark other ideas. But, hey you, you are PUBLISHED!!

    • Katybeth, you’re an angel for taking the time to offer such valuable suggestions — thank you!! I’ve heard about readings at bookstores, of course, as well as local signing parties and such. We have several Little Free Libraries here, and I think that might be a great place to put my “baby.” I know my publisher will be doing some of the marketing, but I’m expected to do more, ha! Additionally, I’m fortunate to already have my website designed, my blog, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon Author account. I guess it’s a process and will take time — hopefully, not as long as it took to write the thing!!

  2. What a treasure of information “My Odd Family” just provided. What great friends and support you have already, Debbie! And it will be an adventure, for sure! There’s only one time to be a first time author, think how seasoned you’ll be on your next books! Again – congratulations, my friend!

    • Barb, I KNOW I’m blessed at having such support from my friends! When one transitions from a hopeful author to a soon-to-be-published author, one can’t help but spend a lot of time being grateful! And, while a debut novel probably isn’t expected to succeed (gee, even if I sell a few copies, I’ll be happy!!), I imagine the second and third and more go-arounds will be just as challenging. After all, publishing is such a changing field. Thanks for your good wishes, my friend!

  3. I don’t have suggestions (sorry! ) but I can offer support and encouragement. The idea of marketing is completely foreign and not very appealing to me so I can understand why it might be overwhelming. I definitely want to read your book. And then I can tell everyone, “hey, I knew her back when! ” Congratulations- I’m excited for you 🙂

    • What a sweet thing to say! Thank you for being happy for me. I’m just delirious when something good happens to my friends; being on the receiving end of that kind of goodwill is humbling.

  4. Again, CONGRATULATIONS on your publication, Debbie!

    *thunderous applause and cheers*

    I don’t have any personal experience to share because I’ve never published a book, however, one of my longtime blogging friends published his first book last year (right before Christmas). From what I’ve read on his blog, he did several book readings/signings at local bookstores in Brooklyn and found it very productive. He also did the same thing at local coffee houses on the weekends. He also started a separate website from his blog, where he has his book info, along with reviews from people who have purchased his book.

    He’s learned so much from publishing his book, as I know you will too. You sorta learn as you go along.

    Again, a BIG congrats, my friend! And Happy Memorial Day!

    • Ron, thanks so much for your support and good wishes!! I think book signings and readings are part of the marketing effort. I can’t imagine anybody wanting to spend time hearing me read, but who knows? Maybe they will! All I can do is make a list of the various promotional options and give some or all of them a try, right?!

      You’re right, of course. Instead of looking at this as drudgery, I should be thinking more optimistically. Look at all the things I stand to learn!! And imagine how much easier it will be for my next book, which even now, is in the infant stage!

      Bless you, my dear, and enjoy Memorial Day! xx

  5. You are now over the easy part (relatively speaking) The book is done. I wish I had the killer solution to marketing your book. Your blog is a good thing for promotion. I would get advanced copies to reviewers. If you don’t know any then you need to get on google and find them. I have found Twitter to be somewhat disappointing as far as a sales device. Better to develop a newsletter list of folks who can then serve as your ground team. When you get at least ten reviews you can get featured on Book Bub and EReader News. You can advertise on Amazon as well but you need to understand that venue and I’m still trying to figure it out. For now, I would concentrate on getting reviews. Hope this helps

    • John, thank you for your excellent suggestions! At my publisher’s directive, I’ve gotten a few advance words of praise to go on the cover, and I think advance copies for reviewers should definitely be on my To-Do list. So many of the tweets I read sound almost like begging, and I can’t see that as helpful. Isn’t Twitter more about connections, rather than shouting into an empty room?? A newsletter sounds like another great idea. Probably best to work with a core group rather than trying to cast a wide net and hope to snag somebody! You’ve been most helpful!!

  6. From the reader/reviewer perspective, I learn about books in the following ways (some work better than others for me personally so I’ve indicated whether “welcome” or “annoying”…)

    Regularly chatting with the author on the blogosphere, not always about his/her book – welcome.

    Via NetGalley – probably the best way but probably also quite expensive to place a book there. Requires a killer cover and title to attract attention! – welcome

    Via Twitter – hmm! I don’t really read Twitter, TBH, so this doesn’t actually work for me and I hate when authors overdo it with twenty tweets a day… annoying, mostly.

    Being e-mailed by the author or publisher – this can be welcome if they’ve taken the time to look at the kind of books I review and made sure the book is a good fit. But can be extremely annoying to be offered something in a genre I never read (we all get tons of these offers, so when half of them are for erotic cowboy zombie novels it gets a little tedious 😉 ). Also annoying to get follow-up e-mails demanding a decision…

    Authors following my blog, twitter, etc, but making no attempt to interact with me – completely ineffective and rather annoying.

    Goodreads giveaways – my massive TBR stops me entering these but I know lots of reviewers get books this way all the time and tend to review them. – welcome

    Giveaways on blogs – works well and is welcome, since people only enter if they’re interested by the book. Loads of book bloggers do giveaways quite regularly, so if you find one who gives your book a positive review it’s worth asking if they’d like a copy or two to give away. (I don’t do them – sorry!)

    Comments left on my blog posts promoting the author’s book – unwelcome and usually deleted.

    Hmm… some of that sounds a bit negative – sorry! But I hope some of it might help. The suggestions other people have made – talks and readings in bookshops and libraries – also get word of mouth going, and if you’re lucky people blog about those events too, so you can get a double hit.

    I will of course be grabbing a copy as soon as I can – will it be available for Kindle? 😀

    • What outstanding information you’ve provided, FF!! Thank you ever so much! Rest assured I would never presume on our friendship to have you read and/or review my book. Just not gonna happen. If you choose to read it, I’m honored. If you like it — even a little! — I’m doubly honored. And if you hate it, then, of course, I’d expect you to be honest so I can learn from my errors. Fair enough??

      You aren’t sounding negative at all. I try to be considerate, so the last thing I’d want would be to shove my book in somebody’s face, demand they read and like it, and say so. How awful would that be?!

      There are so many marketing avenues available to today’s writers. I know we can’t be everywhere — unless we hire a marketing team, which I can’t justify at present — so hearing which ways work is an important part of my education.

      I know it’s coming out as a paperback copy. I imagine digital copies also will be available (though I don’t have a Kindle. Maybe one day!)

  7. Do you have another author website set up yet? If you’ll notice, the URL for my new photo blog is lindaleinen dot com. I also have a domain name registered now under a book title. If I ever write the danged thing, I’m all set.

    Also: get a gmail account, like Debbiesbook at And don’t discount Twitter. If you want to see how it can be really used, and used well, go find @RadioFreeTom, who’s just published another book, and plays Twitter like a fiddle. At one point, people were tweeting photos of their cats reading his book. I’ll go through his timeline one of these days and find the point in time just before and during release for you, and you may pick up some hints.

    One thing’s for sure — nobody resents his promoting his book to the hilt, because they already were followers, and he made the whole thing completely entertaining. I’ve been known to stop following people who are all like, BUY MY BOOK BUY IT BUY IT, but someone who just wants to put out the information, and has confidence that you’ll like it? It’s not offensive at all.

    • Linda, my author website ( links off my blog (and vice versa). I thought about grabbing a domain for my book title, but titles can change during the editing process, and I didn’t want that aggravation! Since the book isn’t self-published, I didn’t know if my publisher would suggest a different title. They didn’t, by the way.

      Yes, I’d be most interested to see how RadioFreeTom managed Twitter to promote his book. Cats reading copies?? Hmm, very interesting. Pictures always grab attention, don’t they, especially cute pictures!

      I confess I’ve stopped following people who continually beg about something they’re selling, too — whether it be a CD, a motivational course, or a book. I just hate to see anybody thrust into the position of tin cup and curbside!! I find it’s way better to develop a friendship of sorts (as much as one can have with strangers!) before mentioning things like what you’re promoting.

  8. Good luck, Debbie. Keep at it. Tweet like crazy. Instagram and Snap Chat, too. Contact small radio stations to let them know you’re available to be interviewed. And anything else you can think of. Asking those who’ve already been through the process is a good idea. I haven’t published so probably not the best person to ask. But know that I’m rooting for you!

    • Thanks, Monica. I appreciate your goodwill and support! I often wonder what writers like Agatha Christie, Poe, Hemingway, etc. would think of the promotional avenues open to us today. I don’t imagine we’ll ever go back to letting a publishing house do all the marketing, especially since many writers today are self-publishing!!

  9. Hello,
    Did you know that Lisa Genova sold her
    books from the back seat of her car? Nobody
    was buying them, and she believed strongly in her story,
    so she told me that is what she did.
    Are you inspired?
    xxx From MN

  10. Ah Debbie, I’ve been whining about book marketing for a year. You are exactly correct in that a publisher expects (and pretty much demands) that new authors find ways to get their books out there. I sold several of my first children’s book to friends via Facebook. They all thought I was walking on water by publishing a book, lol, and they wanted signed copies for their grandkids. I sent many, many copies of my books to local and local(ish) libraries with only one response to come do a reading. My city library here is really backward so I can’t count on their help and the only other local writers in my area all write religious books – so no networking. My only avenue is to travel to the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex which I was unable to do this year because of my mom’s health. I’m sorry I don’t have any good advice for you now, but I will continue to do research on book marketing options. Good luck!

    • Thank you, Lana. It’s always helpful to hear the tales of those who’ve trod this path before me! My book won’t come out until October, but I’m already stressing over the promotional aspect. My publisher assures me that I can’t afford to wait until I have copies in hand to get started. Sigh. It’s a learning process, right??

      • Yes for sure. Nothing easy about it. I guess the easy part is writing the book, ha. I think you do have to tackle social media though if you don’t promote your book on it, nobody else will. I don’t have an additional writer website as I use WordPress and Facebook as my author pages. I did buy my domain name. I also use Instagram and Twitter. It is difficult to maintain all these sites, ideally I think it would be good to put different stuff on all of them, but that doesn’t always happen for me. There are many pro writers on WP though that you can surely learn a lot from, especially the Indie writers as they have to do everything. Best of luck!

  11. Writing and then publishing a book is like climbing a mountain. Grueling. I am certainly no expert, but I would approach the publishing with same self-discipline you have had as an athlete. Network first within your local community. Then use all your social media tools to reach a wider readership. Do you have a website for your book? Good luck. I am looking forward to reading it when it comes out.

    • Aw, thanks, Pat. I have an author website, not a book website (I envision this as the first of a series, and I can’t see myself designing websites for every book I hope to write, ha!) Great advice — self-discipline. Yep, I need to look at this as a journey, rather than a destination!

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