My first book releases in less than two months. There are so many promo things I’m supposed to be doing, even though the editing was done ages ago. The list of stuff authors are supposed to do for book promotion keeps getting longer. We’re told we need more followers, more reviews. We need a website, a brand, a mailing list, a blog, a Twitter, a Facebook, a Goodreads, a blog tour, a giveaway. Reviewers, pre-orders, book signings, book swag, book trailer…
Whoa! Whoooaaa… My heart is racing. The anxiety is already depriving me of sleep, and I’m bound for a breakdown before my release day is even here.
No matter what, a breakdown is not worth it, for any author. So…
Rather than listing all the things I haven’t done, here’s a list of five things I have done. Because really, we as authors are building platforms all the time. Maybe if we dwell on those things, the promo game won’t be quite as sleep depriving.
1) Finding Writing Friends
Having other writers around is like an invisible flying carpet. They’re the best source of how to handle this publishing thing. They give support, encouragement, advice. We find them in local writing groups, here at diyMFA, on Twitter, at conferences. We can depend on our fellow authors as our front line people for promoting our books by word-of-mouth.
2) Knowing My Genre
A book has to be in the right genre. It’s the vital beginning to the brand. If a book isn’t pinned in the proper genre, it confuses readers. One of the most common troubles for new writers is not knowing their genre. It’s hard. I took two books to figure out I was writing romance, and even after picking the genre, we have to learn the nuances of the subgenres and age categories. We have to understand the expectations of the readers and tailor our books to their audience. After years of research, I now know my book RACING TO YOU is in the age category new adult, the subgenre contemporary in the genre of romance.
3) Picking the Perfect Pen Name
Some writers get by on their legal name, but because of our personal lives—day jobs, family, privacy—for many, using their legal name isn’t an option. A pen name can go through phases and changes. It takes time to get it right, and some who write in more than one genre jungle multiple pen names. It’s an important distinction so readers aren’t misled by which books they pick up.
I came up with “Lovett” for my last name pretty easily. It’s a family name but also has a romance ring to it. My first name was tougher to get right as the first version was taken already by another writer. I figured out, since I’m writing in two subgenres of romance, I needed two pen names: new adult contemporary as Robin Lovett and adult erotic romance as S.A. Lovett.
4) Joining Twitter
For some writers joining Twitter is instinctive, others not as much. It’s a good thing to do early. Being a writer just means—be on Twitter. It’s the first thing my agent tells new clients to do if they aren’t already. There are so many writers there to meet. There’s no such thing as signing up too soon. Even if you’re not sure of your pen name, you can change your Twitter name and handle whenever you want and keep the same account.
The first thing I did after I picked a pen name was sign up for Twitter. I joined before I even attended my first writing group. I’m not sure how I knew to do this, but I’ve grown to really like it.
5) Finding An Agent
A large quotient of writers don’t need an agent to publish their books, but for many of us it’s the right choice. A good agent acts like a liaison to the publishing business and in the beginning, as a teacher for how the book industry works.
My agent is kickass. Querying Rachel Brooks, signing with her, trusting her with my work—best thing I’ve done for my career. She’s got my back in every corner. She’s there to give it to me straight when I’m having a newbie-writer-freak-out and need to take a chill pill. She’s also there to answer all my questions. She knows how this business works and fills in all the holes in my inexperience.
Those big five will help keep every writer’s feet on the ground. Without those things, I’d be lost at sea—and probably not even having—a book release. I’m hoping they’ll keep my heart rate near normal, and my sleep hours regular between now and my release day July 5th.
In a month, I’ll have a report on what I’ve checked off the mega promo to-do list—maintaining sanity being number one. In between though, I’ll keep up with what keeps we writers the most sane: writing.
Robin Lovett, also known as S.A. Lovett, writes contemporary romance, and her debut novel, Racing To You, will be released July of 2016. She is represented by Rachel Brooks of the L. Perkins Agency and has a forthcoming series releasing with SMP Swerve in the summer of 2017.
She writes romance to avoid the more unsavory things in life, like day jobs and housework. To feed her coffee and chocolate addictions, she loves overdosing on mochas. When not writing with her cat, you can find her somewhere in the outdoors with a laptop in her bag. Feel free to chat with her on Twitter.