Noble was our newly-crowned book king. There are a few things I wish I could go back and tell that budding novelist--like, "Upload your manuscripts to amazon in 2010! No matter what anyone tells you, it's a GOOD idea!"
Well, it's too late for that to be helpful, but here are a few things I wish I'd known when I first got started as a serious novelist in January 2012. (Why, yes, it was a New Year's resolution, thanks for asking.) These items are listed in no particular order. I'm sure I can come up with more than ten, but here's a start:
1. Do build your social media following even if you're not selling books there.
Which segues easily into...
2. Social media is not really for selling books. If you think social media is for selling books, it's OK. Most newbies make that mistake. If you tweet links to your book and try to sell your book on your personal Facebook page, friends will shake their heads and forgive you. You'll learn, they're thinking. But if you keep doing it for more than a month or so, they will most likely unfollow and unfriend you.
Social media is for professional and social networking and also to put yourself out there. What does it mean to put yourself out there? You're letting people get to know you. What do you like? How do you think? Because it's internet content, everything you put on your pages and sites stays there. That's a good thing. If someone (an agent, an editor, a reader) is thinking about working with/buying from you, they can check out your history in one of these places and get a sense of who you are.
3. Blog. I see you rolling your eyes! You've got to blog. About what? Blog about your writing philosophy, progress, what you learn, your research for your books, etc. And share pictures: people love pictures, and they make your blog posts look better in feeds.
4. BUY your pictures. I use Shutterstock. Yes, it costs money, but Google search images are not just free for you to use any way you wish. And the "free" images from "free" image sites will sometimes have code in them that turns your Facebook author page into a porn site. Don't ask me how I know that. Ever.
5. No money for Shutterstock? Take your own pictures but dress them up. You will soon learn why your teen thinks Instagram is awesome. She/He might even help you figure out how to use it.
6. Reciprocate. In the world of social media networking, it's all about reciprocation. You get a feel for this by doing it. In general, if someone mentions you, you do not have to mention them right back. Don't be too literal about this reciprocation thing. You do not have to retweet me just because I retweeted you. This results in an infinite courtesy RT loop--which can be fun if your partner is a comedian. Otherwise, it's rather tedious for all your OTHER followers. It's really pretty simple: as a general rule, if someone gives you exposure, acknowledge them. You can favorite tweets that mention you. You can tweet a genuine thanks that also lets your other followers know why they ought to follow this person. The biggest rule in social media: reciprocation should be genuine. And the biggest twitter rule: do unto your followers as you would have them do unto you. Spam and endless spam retweets? No, not so much.
7. write, write, write, write, write...basically I wish I'd written a lot more in the last twenty years.
8. read, read, read, read, read...I read enough, but it's never enough.
9. Blog about what you read. Nowadays, that's called a book review. Post that content to goodreads, amazon, and library thing. Any book review you write needs to go on all three of these sites after you blog it. I had no idea how much I actually read until I started doing this. I've read 38 books this year other than the reading I do online and for my kids' homeschooling. That's a lot more than I thought.
10. Querying bookbloggers is great practice for querying agents. If you don't know how to query a bookblogger, I will be blogging about that soon :)
photo credit: Inacio Pires/Shutterstock