There are several writing concerns that new writers instantly understand. The most obvious concern, of course, is where to get ideas.
Another common concern is whether or not you need an agent (which is itself a question deserving of its own
Royalties are another concern new writers seem to have. Everyone wants to know how much money they're going to get for their magnum opus. Probably somewhere between diddly and squat, honestly.
|Ask any veteran writer and he or she will tell you:|
Every night around midnight, Tinkerbell craps pixie dust on your sleeping head
and inspiration is born.
|YOSSARIAN: So in order to get published, I need an agent, but I can't get an agent unless I've been published?|
DANEEKA: You got it. That's Catch-22.
YOSSARIAN: That's some catch, that Catch-22.
DANEEKA: It's the best there is.
|Unless this is your Opus; then you'll have royalties coming out of your ears.|
Unfortunately, most of these concerns are usually out of your hands as a writer. You either have an idea or you don't; you can't go shopping for them. An agent will either pick you up or not; you can't force one to.
Unless you kidnap Qui Gon Jinn's daughter and force him to use the
Jedi mind trick on the agent.
You will not live off your royalties, nor should you expect much (read: any) of an advance if your name is not Stephen King.
One concern, though, that many new writers overlook is, ironically, one of the few they have direct control over: promoting their work. This seems to be something many feel will take care of itself. Either the publisher will drop boatloads of cash on book tours and full-page ads and billboards and professional book trailers for your unknown first novel, or people will simply wake up one morning, magically understanding the beauty that is your genius and flock to Barnes & Noble cash in hand demanding their copy.
|Pixie poo is apparently good fertilizer for more than just ideas.|
Sadly, this is not the case. Whether you are traditionally published through one of the major houses, published by an independent firm, or self-published, the onus of promotion is going to fall squarely on your shoulders.
Thankfully, you have Dr. Uncle Lev to offer up three suggestions that have worked well for him.
3. Share Your Work
Sometimes this means giving away free copies, but that's not really what I'm talking about here. I mean giving out free samples of your work in the form of public readings. It is insanely easy to get local readings. There are venues aplenty in your town, regardless of size. Does your town have a coffee shop? If so, they will, more than likely, be happy to host your reading. It doesn't even matter how good you are. After all, readings and coffee shops have gone hand-in-hand ever since the beatniks doo-wopped their gasses in a crazy hep patter over java and joe:
If you're worried that your writing's no good, fear not. It has to be
better than beatnik poetry, and they practically invented public readings.
There are plenty of other venues for a reading as well. Your local library will almost certainly be perfectly happy to offer you a stage for a reading. While you're there, offer them a free copy of your book for their shelves.
Ask your local independent bookseller for a reading as well. What better way to sell books than at a bookstore? Even more important here is that the bookseller will almost certainly sell your books for you on a consignment basis (which just means the store gets a small cut of your sales).
If your local college has a creative writing group, offer to give a reading for them. Or if they host an open mic event, take part in it.
In other words, make yourself visible in your community and its environs. These people are, after all, going to be your primary audience, and if they like your work, they will buy it, and hopefully recommend it to their friends.
2. Contact the Media
Admittedly, as an unknown author, the New York Times Book Review is unlikely to care about your new book. Your local papers, though, will almost certainly want to know about it. You can write up a press release for them and ask if they'd be interested in running it (if they ask for money, consider it. It is, after all, advertisement). If you have a reading coming up, ask the paper if they'd like to cover it.
|Hell, if they'll run this boring story, they should jump at the chance to cover you.|
You might also ask if anyone on staff would be interested in reviewing your book for the paper. If so, give them a free copy for review.
If your community offers a local access cable channel, consider asking one of the hosts to interview you.
Again, the point here is to make yourself known to your community and the surrounding area. However, it's not a bad idea to try to spread your name out to a wider audience, which brings me to my last suggestion.
1. Create an Online Presence
Since we now live in the digital age, it is easier than ever to grow your name beyond your geographical area through the use of social media.
Consider creating a Facebook page for your author persona. Post status updates about your latest project, reading, or media appearance. However, also post online articles you find that have to do with writing or the subject matter of your work. Essentially, use it just like you would your "real" Facebook page, but without all the politics, religion, passive/agressive cryptic rants, and cat pictures.
|Well this one's okay I guess.|
Consider doing these same things on a Twitter feed as well. You can even set up Twitter so that it automatically posts to your Facebook page.
If you are selling your book on Amazon (and if you aren't, you really need to fix that), be sure to set up your free author page. You can link your Twitter feed to this page, post upcoming reading dates and venues, and host online discussions of your work.
Finally, consider writing a regular or semi-regular blog. This blog does not necessarily have to be about writing at all. It can be about anything you find interesting.
|Or uninteresting for that matter. |
This guy set out to write a boring blog
and reaped over 350 replies to a post about straightening pencils.
The long and short of it is that you need to be online, and in multiple areas. If you are online, you are instantly available to people around the world, and while you may not reach as many people worldwide as you do in your community, even one person overseas who notices you is one more than you would have had.
|Except for this guy. You're probably not available to this guy.|
If you're very lucky, you might even be asked to contribute regularly to a European writers blog.