What I Wish I’d Done
The journey toward publishing Scarred Melody began in October last year when I finally sat my butt down and started writing the scenes that’d been dancing in my head. I didn’t know what else to do. When I started, I genuinely believed most of this business was putting words on paper, shuffling them around until they made me smile. I was wrong.
Indie publishing is writing, because without a product, there’s nothing to sell. However, if we focus only on writing and don’t market our work, our masterpieces will sit on the shelves (or in other cases, the limbo of cyberspace) and no one will read them.
More than half of this business is marketing and building a network. Like any other job in sales, it’s important to entice readers to purchase our products. How do we do that? Other than dressing up in Pretty Woman cosplay and hocking our wares on the street.
I made a lot of mistakes as I prepared to get Scarred Melody to press. I’m going to dig deep into those mistakes and find out what I did wrong. Then I’m going to learn from them. And hopefully, by telling you about them today, you can avoid the pitfalls I made.
- Have others read your work. A lot. And then a little more. I was fortunate to have fallen into a critique group of experienced, published women who were willing to help walk me through a lot of the publishing process. (This is definitely something I did right, so find a mentor or a group of experienced published authors willing to give advice.) They read my chapters as I wrote them and gave me real-time feedback; I was able to use what they gave me in lieu of shucking out major bucks for an editor. My mistake was not having anyone read it after the critique corrections were done. I left it for a week and then proofread it, then let it go out into the world. The result was a decent piece of work, but there were still mistakes that I missed on my final read through. Never be the last person to read your own work—you will miss something. So, find beta readers. Get ARC readers. People who love your genre who are interested in your story and willing to tell you if something is wrong. Do this at every stage.
- Get to know people in your genre and subgenre. I did this by joining Facebook groups. The mistake I made was staying in my small critique circle in the beginning. If I’d been brave enough to reach out and develop relationships with people who wrote the same type of stories I did. Why? Because they know the audience. I write rockstar romances. There are at least three Facebook groups dedicated to that subgenre alone. Now that I’m more involved in it, I’ve got to know more about my audience and I’ve met authors who write the very books I love. I literally fangirl on a daily basis!
- Start building your reader base before your book goes to print. I tried to do this. I took part in author launch parties and held drawings for Amazon gift cards to people who signed up for my mailing list. I got a few. I even took part in an anthology with my critique partners for Christmas. When my publication date for Scarred Melody came, I had 25 people on my mailing list. That was better than a goose egg. The advice I wish I’d followed was to write a short story or novella and give it away as a reader magnet. People love free shit. Hell, I love free shit. So of course, they’re going to give you their email address to get a lil sumthin sumthin.
- Start marketing ASAP. How does one start marketing when they don’t even have a book written? That’s the question that stopped me from doing it. I waited until a month before my book was set to publish before getting a cover. If I could’ve done it again, I would’ve made the cover the instant I knew enough about my characters. Then I’d have set up a solid publication date to give myself a deadline. No one is more motivated than a writer with a deadline. Then you can have a lot of fun with a cover reveal party or set of posts. Ideally, people will see your cover and want to sign up and find out more details about your release.
- Build social media early. Facebook is an easy answer for this. I joined writing groups, genre groups, reading groups, and developed my own. If you like social media and you enjoy connecting with people, this part of the job can be quite fun. It can also be a rabbit hole. Some of the best advice I’ve received is to focus on one avenue of social media. If you’re a Facebook person, do Facebook. Instagrammer? Focus on that. Build those platforms to the highest level. It was recommended I at least make a basic profile on all other platforms and put my link information there, so if someone was a strong user of a different platform, they at least knew how to find me. One thing I did do was link every platform together that could be linked. So my Facebook is linked to my Instagram and sometimes the posts transfer. Some of my critique partners use Facebook Business Suite to post to both at the same time—I couldn’t figure it out. If you know how, teach me? I also wish I’d made book videos…people love that stuff.
- Write better. For me the learning curve was mega steep. I’m more fortunate than others in that I had a great critique group. If you are lucky enough to have someone critique you, take everything they offer you to heart. Take nothing personally—they’re not attacking your baby or insulting your abilities. They’re giving you gems of their own experience and their time which are valuable resources. Keep the eye on the prize: our goal is to communicate a story, not dazzle people with purple prose. Also…use contractions. As much as possible unless you need to emphasize the words. This is fiction we’re writing, not formal nonfiction. Back up your work—the cloud is your friend. Take advantage of sprints. Getting words on paper gives you something to work with. I zoom with The Writer’s Hour every day—over 100 writers getting together to be in each other’s presence for accountability and support.
That’s all I got for ya folks. For all those experienced authors out there—what do you wish you’d known?
Tag Line: Can a brutally scarred songwriter help a washed-up rock star feel the music again?
“We all have scars, El. The only difference is I can see yours.”
All I knew was music. Writing it, playing it. The sway of the melody traveled through me. It kept me company as I hid my face under a mask.
My dream of singing in front of the crowds was long forgotten. Now I hide in the shadows, only emerging to help fellow artists launch their careers.
Enter Skyler Dalton, my teenage heartthrob.
My best friend died. My last album bombed. I punched out a paparazzi.
Life hasn’t been going my way.
The label offered an ultimatum, work with a professional songwriter to salvage my solo career or hit the road.
Luckily, Elsie was easy to work with. I wasn’t looking for love, but what I found was a lot more than just a new song…
“So… just to be clear, you’re not DTF?”
My lips curled into a smile. “You’re like a dog with a bone about this, aren’t you?”
Now Elsie started blushing. Damn, we were like two teenagers in the back of my pickup truck. Crossing her arms over her chest, she sat and waited, making it clear in no uncertain terms she wanted a straight answer.
I sighed. Reaching up, I pushed aside an unruly strand of her hair, slipping it behind her ear. I ran a finger down her cheek, feeling how soft her skin was.
“Not with you,” I said, gently.
Elsie wasn’t someone I’d ever sleep with casually. Nor the type to just burn energy off with. She was someone to spend time with, build a life with.
When she flinched, I braced myself. Shit, how did I fuck that up?
“I understand,” she said, her face turned down. She tried to move away from me, but I tightened my arms around her and pulled her in tighter. Gripping her chin, I turned her face so her eyes would meet mine. Those green eyes I adored wouldn’t look directly at me. I couldn’t have a misunderstanding wound her, this was too important.
“El, I don’t want to just fuck you. I want to make love to you.” I couldn’t get any plainer than that. It must’ve been the right thing to say because her face softened and her eyes finally met mine. I liked that response so I kept going. “I want to touch you everywhere, lick you everywhere, and watch you fall apart in my arms. I want to sleep in the bed with you after we’re done, our bodies exhausted with pleasure. Does that answer your question?”
Heather E. Andrews has been reading romance since the age of twelve. She lives as a disgruntled pug-mother in Albany, NY. She is the baby of nine children and slaves away taking care of her two entitled pugs and four spoiled guinea pigs. Her only escapes in life are reading, writing, and Star Trek reruns.
Jingle My Snowballs, A Steamy Christmas Anthology
Scarred Melody, Bold Melodies Book One
Until the End, Apocalyptic Anthology
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