RU Readers, help us welcome historical author Katharine Ashe who’s here to tell us about what happens – dum dum dum!!! – after the sale. =)
Make sure you leave a comment below, because you won’t want to miss Katharine’s giveaway – a copy of Swept Away By a Kiss!
But that’s backstory. The story I’m going to tell today is what happened next. I call this story “What I Learned on After-the-Sale Vacation.”
First (since I am also a professional historian, and historians love to tell the punch line before the joke), here’s The Big Lesson I Learned: Nothing changes. Well, yes, your book ends up on bookstore shelves and lots n’ lots of people read it and tell you they adored it. This is fantastic. Actually, it’s way beyond fantastic. But nothing inside you changes. All that eagerness, all that love and passion and emotion I put into my writing, all that heartbreak and anxiety and uncertainty and frustration and fear and sheer boiling mania I felt before I made that sale is still with me. It is part of me. Succeeding in this manner has not changed me as a person. Ten years at a Zen monastery and some really good therapy might. But that’s also another story.
What did I learn, in practical terms?
1. First-week sales are HUGELY IMPORTANT. Great first-week sales land you on bestseller lists, which then go into promotion for your next book, which then sell more of that next book. They also help determine whether the big buyers will buy your second book in quantity. Do whatever you can to encourage readers to buy your book in those first few days. This includes promoting your book through social media (Facebook, twitter, blogs, etc.) and mailings to booksellers and book clubs before the book releases.
2. Professional contacts are crucial for creating a buzz for your first book. But you must start networking early. I don’t mean four months before your release date. I mean four years. At least one or two. Volunteer for positions in writers groups that will help you meet industry people. Every positive contact you make during these years will serve you well. I was co-chair of Programming for my local RWA chapter for two years before I got published. In planning monthly programs I met industry luminaries whose effect on my career has been significant. This takes time and effort, but it is incredibly fun, and it ensures that your name is familiar to influential people when your book hits the stands.
3. Take your time. When I learned of the eight-month space between the release dates of my first two books, I groaned. How would this build an audience? But I spent those months learning about promotion and, more importantly, writing the best books I could. That time also gave me the creative space I needed to propose an additional project to my editor. That project became my e-book, A LADY’S WISH (March 15), a $1.99 delicious little novella tied into my print trilogy, to be released two weeks before book 2 of the series, CAPTURED BY A ROGUE LORD (March 29). We invented this e-novella as a promotion for the print series, but it turned out to be super fun to write! It never would have happened, though, if I’d been rushing. In the crazy-speedy world of publishing, time can be a writer’s friend.
4. Don’t be surprised when people you thought would embrace your triumphs do not. Be gracious. No matter what. No. Matter. What. (Graciousness always feels better to me anyway.)
5. All bloggers are not created equal. Many are magically wonderful and I cherish them—like the women of Romance University! Other bloggers are not interested in furthering your career. Some are unprofessional. Take very great care in planning your blog appearances.
6. Fan mail is worth it all.
If you are a published author, did you learn any crucial lessons after your first sale? If you are yet-to-be-published, tell us what you are doing now to prepare for those months between your first sale and book release, because we’d love to give you a high five and “Way to go!”
Don’t forget to join us on Monday, March 14 as Sally Bayless pops in to tell us about her writing journey.
Bio: The American Library Association’s Booklist named Katharine Ashe one of the “New Stars of Historical Romance” and her debut historical romance, Swept Away By a Kiss, was nominated for Best First Historical Romance in the Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Awards. Katharine lives in the wonderfully warm Southeast with her husband, son, two dogs, and a garden she likes to call romantic rather than unkempt. A professor of European history, she has made her home in California, Italy, France, and the northern US. Please visit her at www.katharineashe.com.
- Weekly Lecture Schedule for August 9-13, 2010: Katharine Ashe, RWA Nationals, Jennifer Greene, Build-a-Blog
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- Back-to-Back Book Releases