It's so nice to welcome back Joanna to my site! Is this your second or third time, Joanna? I find it so funny to compare our pictures, we truly are cyber sisters! Okay, well, over to you - enjoy your visit!
Thanks so much to the wonderful authors here who get the ‘pay it forward’ concept and created an opportunity for me to do the same.
I, Joanna Aislinn, am a lover of reading. Writing—specifically editing—messed with the pleasure part of my passion; I can no longer get through a story without my pesky internal editor interrupting the flow. These days I’m crafting sequels to my debut novel, No Matter Why (The Wild Rose Press) and planting the seeds for my first historical or paranormal/contemporary, assuming I can decide how I want to handle this latest story idea! In the meantime, I’m learning all I can about promo, the ever-changing publishing world, social media and building my brand. Don’t ask how I work a day job, manage a home and raise two boys, a husband and two cats! (That may be auto-pilot.) Thank God for Fran Fine and tennis: these keep me sane! J.
I come to you a year and nine months into having been blessed enough to be offered a contract which I was very happy to accept. Loved my editor (the wonderful Vicky Reed) and truly enjoyed the experience of seeing my story go from submitted manuscript to ready-to-sell copy. (Seeing my cover—courtesy of the amazing artist Rae Monet*,—and holding a hard-copy of my dream are experiences I can’t seem to word.)
Beyond all else, these past months have been an incredible and major learning experience. I’m grateful for where I am and how I got here. But: if I could travel in time and do this debut thing again, I might change my approach. Armed with the knowledge and perspective only hindsight brings, this is how I’d consider doing things differently:
1. I’d wait before querying. No Matter Why started out as flashbacks from another story. Its sequel is complete (and tentatively entitled No Matter What). Because stories often take their own course, what should have been part three of a trilogy is now slated to be a spin-off, showcasing characters who showed in part two. What originally started as a spin-off seems to taking on life as Part three, a romantic suspense (and currently untitled).
Why would I wait? Because I learned one book is enough to get started, but having a list of releases to follow it is better, even more so if I choose to self-publish. Among the reasons Bob Mayer and Amanda Hocking are becoming household names in multiple writer homes.
2. I’d write more up front. This is an extension of (1). Once promotion begins—which, by the way, I learned should have started WAY before the book released—life as a writer changes. As Rene Rocco of Lyrical Press recently taught at a workshop: The difference between a writer and an author is this: an author writes for publication (and publication is an animal unto itself).
If you eked out time to write before being published, expect to have that much time less once you’ve reached that goal. Don’t fool yourself thinking you’ve reached the finish line, either. Being published is the beginning of a whole new world, folks—one in which an author’s success is pretty directly related to how much effort one puts into getting effective word out to the penny (okay dollar) public.
Making that coveted time to create new products has been my biggest challenge since I finished that first sequel. Don’t know how those authors who rely on income from their books do it. My kids are older, and somehow need my time and attention more than when my biggest job was keeping a constant eye on them. The day job has gotten busier. I bring paperwork home. Hubby is always around and likes to chat. And now I’m also supposed to…
3. Establish myself as a brand and create an ever-growing social media presence and possible fan base by connecting with a virtual world of folks who are working at doing the same. At present, I blog. I interact with Facebook friends. I GET the amazing power of Twitter. I love making new online friends and getting to know people all over the world.
BUT: it takes time to do the social media stuff. People like the phenomenal Kristen Lamb, social media expert and author of We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide to Social Media, breaks this other education I need to gain, along with this other thing I have to do, into manageable chunks. (Try her books. She also recently released: Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer. You will be changed for the better. Both are available in digital and print versions.) Oh, and I love blogging, but that takes time, too. So does taking some time to reciprocate by visiting your friends’ blogs and by reading the great recommendations for blogs they make. And each has the potential of unlocking another education of its own. (Yes, I just made myself dizzy too…)
4. I might skip the website simply because my blog functions very much like one. Wordpress makes life very easy for free. (I did, however, build my own website—another thing I chose to learn—and feel that I put so much work into it, I hate putting it to bed. Letting go is not always my best skill.)
5. I’d promote in a whole different way, based on what I’m learning via (3). And I’d get into Twitter much, much sooner—like, the second it popped onto the virtual map. It’s an incredible, mind-boggling tool whose power is beyond my mere human comprehension (and fodder for a future blog post—stay tuned!).
6. Oh! I almost forgot: I’d write more.
Here’s where I hang out in the virtual world. Hope to see you there!
My blog (Currently, new posts release Tues and Thursdays—most of the time, anyway!)
My website (I like to think it’s very pretty and romantic, lol)
Short Blurb for No Matter Why: Trust and stability are empty words to Carrie Norwell. Her brothers were murdered; her father died upon arrival at the scene. Five years later, her heart remains impenetrable. Billy Jay Eldridge believes Carrie is the right girl but is clueless his noble career aspirations will be the biggest obstacle to getting Carrie to accept what she wants and needs most. How will Billy Jay win her closed-off heart? (Read an excerpt! J)
*Before I forget: Rae Monet is an author too! Learn about her works here!
Thanks again to this wonderful group for having me today!
Until next time,
Great post, Joanna! There is so much we can learn from hindsight. I, too, feel immense pressure to keep up with promo and actually produce some worth writing. I am often running backwards and feeling stressed. Not good. Once my current WIP is done, I have decided to stop committing to things so readily. That's another thing - women are people pleasers!!