Wren O’Hara is waiting for the day she succumbs to mental illness like her mother. When she is attacked by a psychotic client at work, and saved by what must be an angel, she fears the time for insanity has come.
Little does she know, her savior is an immortal warrior druid named Riagan Tenman, and that he will challenge everything she ever thought she knew about reality.
Now Wren must decide if the fantasy unfolding before her is true, or if she has finally lost her mind.
Best and Worst Things About Being a Writer, and Ten Things I Wish Every Aspiring Writer Knew
The best things about being a writer are seeing my name in print, fulfilling a childhood fantasy, and letting my mind run wild, knowing it will only make a story better.
The worst things about being a writer are the slow pace of publishing, the uncertainty of any outcome, and the at-times debilitating self-doubt.
Ten Things I Wish Every Aspiring Writer Knew:
1. Your first attempt at a novel will not likely be the one. (There are always exceptions, but I know several authors who did not snag the publishing contract until book #2…or #3…or #4…). As for me, I was offered a contract on the second full-length novel I wrote, but that was already two years into the writing experience. One year was spent writing the novel that will never been seen. The second year was writing the one that got published. It is not a quick-turnaround business so reevaluate if that’s what you seek.
2. Community matters. I am as introverted and socially-awkward as they come, but I do venture out to writers’ groups and conferences, and am active on online forums. Having a peer group is essential to survival. I use them to bounce off plot ideas, to beta read, to cheer me on when I’ve been given good news, to cheer me up when I’ve been given bad news.
3. And there is a lot of bad news, so thicken that skin. Rejections. Rejections. Rejections. Then if you do land the contract and sail your way (via tumultuous seas) to the published novel, then there are the reviews—hopefully good, sometimes bad, occasionally downright mean. Then, if you’re one of the few, you’ll sell a lot of copies and make a lot of money. Most of us are somewhere in the middle, and this can vary month to month. Sometimes you might very well find yourself at the bottom and that sucks but it’s reality.
4. Do not be competitive with your peers. My writer friends have been some of the most supportive and encouraging and non-competitive people I could hope to know. A perfect example: I was at a workshop and the speaker wanted those in attendance to create a story together. Her disclaimer: do not worry that someone will steal the idea you’ve thrown out. Even if they started with that idea, their story will be vastly different from yours. Not to say there isn’t plagiarism and piracy, but among the writers you choose to call friends, be supportive and encouraging. You’ll appreciate that when it’s reflected back to you.
5. Be fearless. There is something to be said for writing for the masses. Agents and publishers know what’s trending, what has sold in the past, what is expected to sale in the future. But there is always the break-out novel that’s just different. In a cookie-cutter world, be a free-styling carver and you’ll land on your mark. (I hope that last statement makes sense!)
6. Enjoy the writing. I know from personal experience if I get bogged down in the business of writing (which you must learn), then I lose the creativity. It’s a balance. You can’t have one without the other, and if you no longer find you enjoy it, take a step back and write something for your pleasure only. There is a chance it might very well be your best yet.
7. You will have to spend money marketing, even if you have a publishing contract with a big agency. You need a website, social media, head shot, etc. It helps to join one or more organizations. I’m a member of Romance Writers of America (an excellent place to begin), as well as Women’s Fiction Writers. If you write YA, there is Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.
8. If you want to write a genre but are embarrassed or afraid of how it’ll impact your day job or your image, use a pen name. It’s all good, but it’s best to decide that before you get published. If you want to write erotica, it’ll be hard to turn around and write YA under the same name. Not impossible, but tricky.
9. Understand there will be times when the words do not flow, the mind will not concentrate, and the writing timeline falls by the wayside. This happens to me all the time. I have three children, a dog, a hubs, a job, and sometimes it’s just not happening. What do I do? I don’t stress about it. It could be a day, a week, sometimes a month. That recharging period will help you come back renewed.
10. Writers are often introverts. I know I am, and I love to live in my head, to watch tv alone. I love to be in my house when it’s as quiet as an early morning in snowy December. But living your life is essential to good writing. We need experiences to draw from, ideas that simmer and stew and eventually become plot…we need to live life so we can retreat and create.
If you’ve already stepped onto the writerly path, what suggestions would you give to a new writer?
Many thanks for hosting me today. Cheers, Laire.
Laire McKinney is the author of contemporary and fantasy women’s fiction. She believes in a hard-earned happily-ever-after, with nothing more satisfying than passionate kisses and sexy love scenes, endearing characters and complex conflict. When not writing, she can be found traipsing among the wildflowers, reading under a willow tree, or gazing at the moon while pondering the meaning of it all. She lives in Virginia with her family and beloved rescue pup, Lila da Bean.
As authors, it is a constant struggle to get our name out. If you think about it, authors often get caught up in numbers and sales. However, it’s not all about us. We exist because we love what we do, and that includes loving our readers. Without our readers, we would not exist. We couldn’t afford editing, cover design, swag, advertising, events, etc. But, how do we get our names out without wasting our time and money?
One of the solutions to this, is attending author events. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for everybody. Below are reasons why author events nationwide fail.
Too Many Authors– This can be a double-edged sword.
The event has an established reputation
Word of mouth has been previously successful
Location is good to shop at
A better chance of a wide range of genres being represented
Permits readers to be more choosy
Overwhelms your reader
Readers will skip authors, leaving someone to feel left out
Advertising– This is like getting butts into the seats at the theatre. If you don’t properly advertise beyond your circle of friends, and trust that you’ll be successful simply through word of mouth, people aren’t going to show up.
The Host– Do your research. If your host is a self-published author, this should be a red flag. What makes them an expert in running this type of event? How do you know their event will be successful?
First-Year Events– AVOID! Allow that event to properly establish itself first before committing. Make that event prove to you it is worth your time and money.
Location– Do people know where to find your venue? Are there signs clearly posted outside?
Sponsors– Are the sponsors listed on the event actually sponsoring it or are being name dropped. What are they doing to advertise the event?
Not Knowing Your Competition– What other type of events are going on that may help or hinder your traffic flow?
Weather– While these types of events are scheduled months in advance, it is good to have a back-up venue if you are going to be outside.
Cost– I can say before I became an author, I was completely oblivious that authors have to buy their own table, so they are already starting their day in the red. However, venues also cost money, so, what is the right price to charge both author and reader attendees?
Parking– Is there enough parking to handle your traffic? You don’t want your customers leaving before they get there due to frustration of being unable to find a place to park
Being Unfamiliar with Your Target Audience– Where do they tend to go? Comic shops? Bookstores? Coffee shops?
I’ve learned my target audience (Doctor Who fans) go to Comic Con, and not typically to these types of events.
However, if you’re a romance author, for example, you will do well at an author event.
Allowing Pre-Orders– Readers will buy books ahead of time, go to the event solely to pick up their pre-orders, and leave without bothering to check out the other authors.
Not Knowing Your Authors– THIS, ladies and gentlemen is the #1 reason these author events fail.
“Why should I buy this author’s book when I don’t know who he/she is.”
Next time you catch yourself doing this, remember that those popular authors you doknow: Rachel Caine, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, George R.R. Martin, Robin Hobb, etc, were once unknowns, too.
Are you an author reading this post? See something I have not covered? Have you attended an event that went superbly well? What made it spectacular? On the other side of the coin, have you attended an event that went horribly wrong? What went wrong?
I’m often asked about how one goes about getting their name out there. Truth is, there’s no one who can sell your book better than you. You are the brand!
If you’re not already, you should be thinking about the upcoming holidays! I know, fall has just started. Let’s not rush it, right? Halloween hasn’t even happened yet!
However, this is the time of the year when children are back at school, and parents/grandparents are already starting to prepare their birthday/Christmas lists as they get back into their daily routines.
So, where are the best places to help readers get your books into their hands? Below you will find some of my suggestions.
Note: Like any other form of marketing, you will find what works for one author may not work for you. It’s all about learning, exploring and discovering what areas work best for you and your book. You may be surprised to discover where you can be successful in selling your book!
These can honestly be a hit or miss, especially if you are a first time published author.
My advice: look for author events that have been around for several years. Do your research. Find out how many attendees were there, what type of books they bought, what kind of advertising is going on, are there any guest speakers, and most importantly, who is hosting the event? Remember: not every opportunity is a good one.
For example: I made the mistake this year of attending an author event this summer, which had been recommended to me as the “place to go” for a YA author by a local bookstore, that just happened to be run by a self-published author. Within the first few minutes of the event starting, I sensed something wasn’t quite right.
One author stated he was selling his book, which he knew was full of errors, and frankly, didn’t care. This not only made me question the event’s reputation, but it soon became obvious, I wasn’t part of “that” crowd when readers deliberately skipped my table like I was wearing an invisibility cloak, and proceeded to move onto everyone else’s table in my row due to them being already familiar with those authors because they were “friends” with the host.
Needless to say, I won’t be attending that event again.
My first author event took place this year at the Ann Arbor Book Festival in Ann Arbor, MI in June. Above I’m pictured with 7 other authors representing BHC Press.
We had a great turnout despite the event itself failing to properly advertise. It was especially unfortunate that majority of the local businesses had no idea this event was even going on.
Even though I personally have not attempted to sell my book at comic con yet, many authors I know have, and have done really well. The reason I have not tried selling my book at comic con is because the ones I normally attend as a spectator are huge and expensive. For example, back in 2014, a table at Wizard World Chicago cost over $400. I have never sold that many books at an event before, so I know I would just end up taking a loss with just one book.
However, the key is not to think big like Wizard World Chicago, San Diego Comic Con, or Fan Expo Canada. Instead, think of local venues that are smaller, that have specific kind of guests. If you’re a horror writer, for example, you may target a comic con that has Norman Reedus as an invited guest, because known for bringing in a crowd.
Comic con is also spectacular for panels. That’s how I got to meet Genese Davis, Rachel Caine, and James Morrison.
Barnes & Noble:
This is every author’s dream if you live in America: getting your work recognized by Barnes & Noble. And despite what you may have heard, you don’t have to have sold millions of books to get into their stores!
Most recently I had the awesome opportunity to participate in the B-Festival: Teen Festival through the Barnes & Noble Rochester store located in Rochester Hills, MI. The entire day was filled with activities on publishing, writing, young adult, and teen books.
And the best part of the day – the author’s panel!
Library Book Fairs:
This summer I had the opportunity to participate in my first library book fair at the Warren Civic Center. The facility was beautiful, and the hosts were delightful. I joined 15 other authors where we got to meet new readers and all got the opportunity to talk about our books. There was also a really cool group photo taken, but due to I suspect…more email issues, I don’t have a copy of it.
Okay, I’ll be honest with this one. When I first thought of art fairs, I didn’t associate them with places to buy books. Instead I thought of them as solely places to buy art. However, I soon discovered that could not be any further from the truth! I mean when you think about it, books are a form of art too, no? They are just a different kind of art.
This summer I attended two art fairs – Fenton’s Art Walk and Swartz Creek’s Art In The Park. The result: both times I either doubled or tripled the amount of sales I made from any of the other venues mentioned above, which convinces me these are the venues that work best for me.
So, what was different about these venues versus the ones listed above?
Both of these events felt more inviting than any of the events I’ve attended thus far. Everyone was encouraging each other due to the large variety of items for sales. And Swartz Creek’s event was also a fantastic place to network! I’ve got so many invites to different events that I am literally overwhelmed!
“Come with me and you’ll be in a world of pure imagination.” ~ Willy Wonka – Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
One of the most frequent questions I am asked as an author is what inspired me to write The Rite of Wands. I have always found that question interesting because when you think about it, inspiration is different for everyone. It may be a memory, a character from a book, song lyrics, a political speech, a TV series, or even an actor’s performance. Pure imagination is in all of us—we only need to discover it, and sometimes storytelling helps.
Inspiration can come to us in any shape or form; you never know what or who may inspire you. That was the case for me in 2014 when I got the opportunity to attend Wizard World Chicago and meet English actor Matt Smith, who is known for playing the Eleventh Doctor on Doctor Who, and most recently Prince Philip on Netflix’s The Crown. I had originally gone there because I really wanted to meet a Doctor, and honestly felt it was going to be one in a lifetime, never thought it would be possible to meet him again being in America. If only I had known then that I was about to discover the main piece of inspiration in order to finish my book!
A few months later, I was sitting at my desk in my writing office, trying to compose something, but nothing would come to me. I was staring at a blank page for what seemed like eternity. I was close to tears. Not because I was sad, but because I was so frustrated with myself! I thought I had what was called a dead book, and my dream of becoming an author was coming to an end. I wasn’t a writer like I thought. In that moment of desperation, I literally shouted at my computer, “WHO are you? Show yourself!” And then inspiration hit.
I envisioned out of a dark alley in Glendalow, Matt Smith, dressed in medieval warlock attire, carrying an ebony wooden wand in his hand that contained a bloodstone crystal at the shaft. There was also a scar on his face from some type of chemical accident.
I felt like I was having my own “regeneration.” I was being fed all the information I had been missing all at once. I could now hear the character, see the character, and I got a huge grasp on this character’s dominant personality, especially after the first thing I could hear this character say to me was, “My name is Mierta, and that is NOT how it happened.”
In that moment, I gained my confidence back, realizing my dream of becoming a writer could still happen. If you’re a struggling writer, don’t give up! Keep at it. Find what inspires you. You never know what or who that may be!