[REALITY CHECK] - What They Don't Tell You: Writing the Story is Only the Beginning

This week my [REALITY CHECK] guest Reese Ryan touches on a subject that inspired me to start this column in the first place. After your book is written...then what? As an author, I've learned the importance of being a self starter when it comes to marketing and promoting. As a publisher, I've seen books that deserve to have a huge audience suffer because the author no longer has time or interest in promoting themselves or their work.

To professionals, publishing is a business--not a hobby--and to be a successful, published author, Reese reminds us that you can't be complacent. 




What They Don't Tell You: Writing the Story is Only the Beginning

by Reese Ryan

©2014

 

As an aspiring author with dreams of generous advances and bestseller lists dancing in my head, I had several partially completed manuscripts on my computer. I’d started each story enthusiastically. However, as a dedicated pantser who had yet to discover the beauty of plotting, I’d always manage to write myself into a corner where I’d get stuck. I kept telling myself, if only I could finish my story. Then I’d finally be on my way.

 

Boy, was I delusional.

 

Typing The End is only the beginning of the journey to publication. It wasn’t the first book I completed that eventually got published. It was the third. That third manuscript was in its third draft before it went through my critique group. A fourth (or maybe fifth) draft got me a contract with my current publisher, Carina Press. There it went through two more rounds of revisions. When I returned that final round of revisions into my editor, I thought that I was done and that my publisher would take it from there.

I was living in a LaLa Land of EPIC proportions.

 

After revisions, I was quickly ushered into marketing mode. There was a cover to choose and back cover copy to write. More importantly, I discovered what dreamy-eyed debut authors fail to realize. We’re pretty much at the bottom of the food chain; not unlike plankton. There won’t be any billboards, glossy ads, or blog tours.

 

Not unless the author pays for them.

 

My publisher provides its authors with some remarkable marketing training resources. They also maintain an active author loop which is invaluable to newbies who are learning the ropes. So, I quickly learned how to send out review requests and coordinate my own blog tour. I partnered with other authors and worked on building my platform on social media.

 

It’s a constant learning experience.

 

Still, I enjoyed connecting with fellow authors and building relationships with bloggers and readers. It was a wonderful experience, though sometimes an exhausting one. However, it is the new reality for authors in this wild and wonderful world of publishing, and not just for debut or indie-published authors. It’s one of those things that doesn’t figure into our visions of being a best-selling author. But there’s no crying (tantrums or bellyaching) in publishing.

 

Writing the story is just the beginning. Yet, it never ceases to be the priority for an author. So, while learning to master marketing, I must also keep writing. It’s a balancing act I’m still learning.

 

What about you? As an author, or aspiring author, what reality check have you found to be most surprising? How do you balance writing with marketing? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Reese Ryan writes sexy, contemporary fiction filled with colorful characters and sinfully sweet romance. She secretly enjoys torturing her heroines with family and career drama, reformed bad boys, revealed secrets, and the occasional identity crisis, but always rewards them with a happily ever after.

Born and raised in the Midwest, she now resides in central North Carolina. Visit Reese online at ReeseRyan.com. Follow her on Twitter @ReeseRyanWrites. Connect with her on Facebook or Goodreads.

Bad Boys Gone Good Series Buy Links:

Love Me Not: http://www.amazon.com/Love-Not-Boys-Gone-Good-ebook/dp/B00F942VRW/

Making the First Move: http://www.amazon.com/Making-First-Move-Boys-Gone-ebook/dp/B00CC68FMU/

 

©2014. Zetta Brown is editor-in-chief of LL-Publications and Logical-Lust Publications. She is the author of several published short stories and the novel Messalina: Devourer of Men. If you like this post, then stop by Zetta’s Desk or Zetta’s House of Random Thoughts.

 

Got a [REALITY CHECK] about the publishing life to share? If you would like to be a guest on my blog, please friend me on She Writes with a message! :)

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Comment by Reese Ryan on February 6, 2014 at 9:15pm

Apt analogy! Thank you for your comment, Alexandra. There are lots of hats for a writer to wear. Thankfully, the writing community is so generous. I've learned so much from fellow authors. 

Comment by Alexandra Caselle on February 6, 2014 at 8:24pm

Thank you for sharing your experience with us.  I am still in the writing/planning phases, but I do see how writers have to wear many hats when they finally publish.  I guess it is like birth-- we give birth to our novels/books.  When we give them to the publishers, our job is to help  our work to grow or develop into what it is destined to become.  We have to promote our books like we talk about our children on the playground with other parents.  If we want our works to reach many readers, we can't kill our darlings; we have to help show them off. :)  Great post!

Comment by Reese Ryan on February 4, 2014 at 9:23pm

Thanks for your comment, Ann. I'm glad you mentioned a plan. I'd add that it should be scheduled and in writing. I haven't been doing that, and I know that I should. Then I'd be more consistent. Thank you for the reminder. Best of luck with The Recovery Room!

Comment by Ann Ormsby on February 4, 2014 at 8:42pm

Reese - You are so right.  The writing is the fun part and the promotion is never-ending, time-consuming and expensive!  Now that my book, The Recovery Room, is available on Amazon and in local bookstores, I try to do one marketing thing each day.  Whether it's blogging, setting up a reading, reaching out to friends to write a review or posting on my book's facebook page, that keeps sales trickling in -- and I do mean trickling.  I've decided to give it 2 years and then I'll see where I am.

Part of me would rather just be writing but this is part of it.  My advice is make a plan and stick to it.

Ann

Comment by Reese Ryan on February 3, 2014 at 3:02pm

Thanks for your comment, Melissa. It's never too early to begin establishing your author platform and building those relationships. In fact, that's one of the things publishers and agents look at when considering a debut author. 

Comment by M. Kinnel on February 2, 2014 at 10:01pm

I'm still in the writing phase but thanks for the forewarning about the aftermath once publication happens. It's a real wake-up call.

Comment by Reese Ryan on February 1, 2014 at 5:23am

Hi Susan! Good luck with your memoir. I love that you prepared to do the work needed to make it the best final product possible. One of the things I found most surprising about my publication journey is that I actually do enjoy working on revisions with my editor. I learn a lot and it feeels good seeing the story and characters being further developed in a way that truly enhances the story.

Comment by Susan Holck on January 31, 2014 at 1:51pm

I am working on my first book, a memoir, and with a shitty first draft I am impressed by how much work it is just to get the thing written in the first place, how many revisions I know I'll need, and then all the work that comes after that. But I still love writing, and will keep at it. I'm fortunate in that I'm not looking to make money doing this; I want to tell my story(ies) in a way that moves others. 

Comment by Reese Ryan on January 31, 2014 at 7:47am

So many great comments! Thank you all for sharing your thoughts and experiences. 

Julie--You have a very strong author platform built out of your generosity of spirit and genuine interest in others. You're my role model when it comes to platform-building. :-)

Sophie--Knowing wouldn't have changed my determination to be a writer. However, as with any endeavor, the more prepared you are for what's ahead, the better equipped you are for the task. Understanding the realities of the business side of writing is empowering to writers. Many authors, especially indie authors, have thrived in this new environment. So the changes aren't necessarily a bad thing. Just one we need to be prepared to master. Love the pearl analogy, by the way.

Ann--I'm so glad this article was helpful to you. I highly recommend you begin building your platform today. What to Do Before Your Book Launch by M.J. Rose and Randy Susan Meyers is a great resource for giving you an idea of what is involved.

Jenny -- Thanks, Jenny. I have a gift for keeping my head in the sand. So I definitely understand. Fortunately, it's never quite as scary as I've made it out to be. ;-)

Carol -- Great points, especially about the saleability of an idea. At one point I thought I'd scream if I read that an agent was looking for "high-concept" one more time. Fortunately, my local RWA sponsored a workshop where author Katharine Ashe gave us some tips that made "high-concept" feel less intimidating. 

Alexia -- Thanks, Alexia! The business side of writing is important and many aspects of it require a very different skill set. One that many writers [raises hand] find challenging. Fortunately, it's also something we can learn or hire someone else to do.

Karoline -- Great advice, Karoline. It is critical to begin building that platform well in advance of launching the first book. I do enjoy connecting with other authors, sharing their book news and celebrating their successes. That is the aspect of social media that I love. The generosity of spirit in the writing community is what makes it so special. 

Juliana -- Great points, Juliana. There are so many books, movies, albums etc. that are truly phenomenal, yet a very limited audience has discovered them. Our motivation for pursuing our art has to be strong enough to weather the highs and the lows or it will be extremely hard to sustain a career as a writer.

Comment by Juliana Lightle on January 30, 2014 at 7:14pm

As a woman who writes poetry, I have never suffered under the delusion that hoards of people will read what I write.  Some of the best books I have ever read never became best sellers.  In fact, the most illuminating literature rarely becomes best sellers. Karoline is right but all that takes a lot of time and determination.  People write for different reasons.  The reason you write affects how you market.  

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