For all you kids out there - this is a Typewriter (Pic by Heavenly Cabins)

Martha Note: Today marks the day of something new and fun. The authors who are represented by my agent, Rachelle Gardner of WordServe Literary Agency are starting a blog, WordServe Water Cooler to share all of their combined years of knowledge about writing, marketing and publishing. The writing community at large is always good about being there for each other and sharing knowledge. The only thing we keep close to the vest are good plot twists but that’s about it. If you’re a writer of any genre, fiction or nonfiction go take a look and feel free to leave a comment or two here or at WordServe Water Cooler about the types of topics you’d like to see or any questions you have – we’re a new kind of resource.

Today, not only did the new blog start but every author is also writing on their own individual blog something about writing, marketing or publishing as well. You can find all of the links today at Rachelle’s blog post. Enjoy and let us know who you are and what you’re working on too.

Five Quick Marketing Tips

1. First, go local. Look to your local writing community for great places to market. They are your best resource as a way to get started. Not only will you find unexpected resources, you’ll find a group of people who understand like no one else. Go online to local colleges or universities who have writing programs and look up when they’re having readings. That attracts all kinds of writers like moths to a flame. That’s our real world water cooler.

2. Set up an author page at Good Reads and if you’re already published, whether it’s indie or established, start a contest and offer to give away 3 to 5 books. If someone gives your book a positive review, thank them on the public postings on the same site. If you’re on Amazon, go through the same process.

3. Go through your book, whether it’s nonfiction or fiction, and pull out 3 to 5 major themes. For example, do you mention race horses or architecture or cake decorating. Then, write an article about that topic and include something about how you love this topic so much, you wrote an entire book. Include the name of the book and the web site where to find you. Then offer the article to sites that are niche for those topics. They need a constant flow of new content and you have something fresh to share. Plus, their audience already loves something about your book and you’re halfway to a sale. You can use the framework of the one article to make several different pieces and re-pitch it to several different sites. Make sure to ask up front for a link back to your site. That will help raise you in search engines as well.

4. Don’t ignore social media. It doesn’t matter if you’re overwhelmed if you want to sell books. Start pushing buttons and adding content. You’ll get comfortable. Make sure your intention is to participate and be of service and not to sell, sell, sell. That’s a pretty good way to turn everybody off. The top social sites right now for writers are Twitter, Facebook Fan pages, Google+ and GoodReads. Use your real name on each of these sites. No cute handles that confuse readers and post an actual picture of you, not your book. You’re working on building a long career, not selling one book. Let people bond with you.

5. Move away from traditional book signings in bookstores. They don’t sell books. Think about donating your time and speaking at nonprofits, such as United Way, coffee hours at places of worship, or anyone that will have you and tell them your story behind the book. Offer to donate a portion of the proceeds to the group and let them know you’re available for other groups.

The rest of this post is the best cautionary tale I have and the one thing I most often tell new writers and my words often fall on deaf ears until they suffer enough. So, read on and learn from my mistakes and from a few of my triumphs as well.

Sometimes in life we pursue something doggedly for all the wrong reasons but are still fortunate enough to come out on top. That’s been my writing career in a nutshell and has to be proof of something bigger out there that has our backs.

My big quest was writing three different books in three different genres despite advice from some very big names in the publishing world. The books each came out to great reviews from literary critics and loads of fan mail, which I took as an affirmation that I was unique. Really, I was just scared and arrogant.

Only one thing was missing, the money.

It’s easy to say it doesn’t matter but even a middle class lifestyle is very expensive and after awhile the low sales became hard to ignore. I was learning the hard way that there is a consequence for everything.

I’ve been a writer for over 20 years now and I’ve even gotten to write for some great big city newspapers and eventually became a syndicated columnist with a nationwide audience. That all sounds great, on the surface.

Frankly, most everyone who hears about what I’ve accomplished quickly starts to ooh and aah with a glint in their eye. The big American dream of writing a novel and having people not only read it but say they like it. I thought so too and for a while, despite the insider advice I was given I continued on my way. I was that sure that in the end I’d be proven right.

Of course, in order to be right, you have to know what it is you’re trying to prove. If I had thought to ask myself that little question I could have shaved a few years off of my old plan.

However, I didn’t ask myself too many questions at all. I was busy confusing what I was doing for a living with the definition of who I am, which is so much simpler. My old thinking meant there were a few things I needed to prove and that took precedence.

Let me tell you, when someone has their self worth tied up in a project there will be no swaying them off of their path until they wear themselves out. It takes a real insider to the publishing game to spot the one large mistake I’ve made that has quite literally cost me. By switching genres, one right after the other, I built three smaller audiences instead of steadily building one large one.

In publishing a certain amount of stick-to-it has big payoffs. That’s probably a good motto for life in general.

There was also no amount of praise that could shut off that yapping little voice in my head.  Instead it got harder for me to climb up the publishing ladder. Fortunately, even talented fools can catch a break.

Thanks to a little jump out of a perfectly good plane and a very patient literary agent, Rachelle Gardner, I started doing things differently.

Two years ago, I went skydiving while on a writing assignment and when I landed safely I made a promise that day to do whatever my agent, Rachelle asked me to do and this time no arguing or cutting corners. First on the list was choosing a genre, thrillers, which was where I started my career with my first novel, Wired and sticking with it. Things are not only easier now but there’s a focused plan and my new political thriller, The List is in Rachelle’s hands.

August 2nd even marks the start of the new blog by all of Rachelle’s clients, www.WordServeWaterCooler.com, so that we can all pass on what we’ve learned from years of writing. That was the key all along. Once I learned that it’s not all about me I was able to finally take in some advice and just be of service. Life is no longer about some magical destination, it’s just a journey with a few friends. More adventures to follow.

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