This post marks a turning point. As of today, I am now a full-time writer. No longer will writing be relegated to whatever hours I can salvage from the rest of my day. I managed to write an entire book that way, but it was a matter of constant, exhausting perseverance. I’ve been moving towards this gradually for years and though recent events put things on fast-forward, ultimately this was long overdue. And now, at last, it’s time to really get down to the business of writing.
Writing is about more than simply putting some sentences in a presentable order, and it’s more than getting from ‘Page One’ to ‘The End.’ Writing is about reaching readers – in every sense of the word. It’s about creating something that resonates with an audience in a way that entertains, informs or enlightens. But to achieve that, one must actually reach readers. If no one’s ever heard of you and your writing, it doesn’t matter how brilliant or suspenseful or moving a story might be. If no one’s reading it then you’ve hit a dead end.
I’m happy to say that Last Exit In New Jersey has been selling steadily despite my random and limited attempts at marketing. I’ve been fortunate, a few review blogs featured my book and their remarks were wonderful, which had the happy effect of attracting readers. A number of these kind readers then went on to post glowing reviews of their own or mention my book in discussion forums, fueling sales even further. Still, my rankings weren’t as high as I would have hoped, and they were clearly lower than some books I’d seen with less than flattering reviews. But why? Was this simply a case of anti-Jersey bias, was there something I was doing wrong… or something these other authors were doing right? A little research revealed one constant for each of these authors: they maintained a strong online presence. They were blogging, on Facebook, on Twitter. More surprisingly, most of them weren’t even mentioning their own books! They were simply out there, interacting with readers and other authors.
Although I’ve blogged for years, when it came to these social platforms I had no idea where to begin. Time was a limited commodity and I needed a way to get up to speed fast. A few books I found focused on social networking as merely new platform to throw the traditional “buy this widget” approach at the masses. Books aren’t widgets. Books are thoughts and ideas. There had to be another way… and then I found Kristen Lamb’s “We Are Not Alone.”
For a social-media introvert, Kristen Lamb’s book provided me priceless guidance I needed. Kristen shows the hows and whys of marketing in a light-hearted, often laugh-out-loud manner that makes her lessons a delight. These days a social presence is essential, but the type of image you project is equally as vital. Kristen leads you through the steps needed to properly brand yourself. (And if you don’t know what that means, all the more reason to read this book.) For any writer trying to reach readers, her book is a must-read and one I highly recommend. Trust me, it will be money well-spent. And above and beyond her book, her blog offers regular installments of insight, guidance and humor. And the best part, in my opinion, is that her entire philosophy is based upon the concept of the more we reach out, the more we help one another, (her barn-raising analogy the other day says it perfectly) the more we all benefit. It’s such a positive, uplifting approach, one that rewards you with new friendships and connections even as you reach new readers and gain fans.
I read We Are Not Alone nearly a month ago and I had been meaning to post a review sooner, but time constraints and a cranky computer delayed me until now. With my new schedule I’ll be able to devote more time to applying all I’ve learned (and continue to learn) from Kristen. Some of you may have noticed subtle changes in my blog and an increased frequency of posts. You can reach me and follow me now on Facebook, Twitter and Myspace. And I’m reaching out to others, making new friends, and loving every minute of it. While writing itself may be a very solitary process, being a writer doesn’t have to be. We truly are not alone!