How To Deal With Well-Meaning Friends and Readers

My guest today is Laurie Foston, author of science fiction and Christian genre as well as juvenile fiction, who also publishes under the name of Cheryl Henry Hodgetts. Laurie discusses how to deal with people who don’t understand the work involved in writing and promoting a book. Laurie says:

Here’s a comment that I borrowed from a New York Times Bestselling author, Rebecca Brandewyne. She’s the real deal in self-promotion. Anything she could join, create, or pass a test with flying colors to enter…she did!

This is her version of some well-meaning responses to your work when they find out you’re an author. I get this all the time.

“The vast majority of people think writing is easy and they, too, could be a writer – or, at least, a storyteller. In fact, put a published author in a crowded room, and invariably, almost everyone in attendance will have a story to tell that ‘would make a great novel!’

Inevitably, as well, they are ‘going to write a book someday, whenever they find the time to get around to it.’ A ‘few months – or even weeks – ought to suffice.’ But then again, upon reflection, they ‘really just don’t have the time, and in all honesty, they were never that good in English class, besides -‘

Frequently, at this point, the more enterprising of those present will actually offer to ‘let the author write it all down for them, sharing the proceeds fifty/fifty….’

Virtually every published author alive has experienced the above scenario – or some other version of it. The truth is, however, that far from being so easy that everyone could do it, writing is a highly demanding, competitive career, requiring a tremendous amount of self-discipline and solitary hard work.”

I would add here the obvious…they unwittingly want to reduce your joy to ashes…your hard work and success of the actual finished product to ” nothing-to-it.”

Knock yourself out then! Go ahead…bet ya can’t even get one page written down even if I gave you the plot.

Am I being harsh?

Before your publisher will take your submission for editing, you must read it three times. First for concept, then for plot holes, and other editing problems and then a line-by-line edit to make sure you didn’t let the word “two” get through as “too.”

As your book goes through production with your publisher, you will get the manuscript back and forth until you and the editor finally come to blows one way or another. It’s either going to be their way or yours. (So who do you think will win?) When the final proof comes, you must get someone to proof it besides yourself and YOU must read it twice.

Then you must find some way to survey it to make sure postproduction errors are corrected and sent back before too many people decide you can’t write. This takes another line-by-line editing to get the postproduction errors that people have found. (Family and friends will let them pass)

A quotation mark is backwards…there is a sentence repeat on such and such page, a run-on sentence slipped past twenty editors…and the list goes on.

This is hard work and if authors follow these steps they deserve their titles. Let no one try to steal your crown. You put up with the tattered nerves, fear, hair loss, intimidation, and struggled to stay above water while people acted as though writing were a mental disorder rather than a gift as they asked where you were while you pounded away at the keys.

Seriously, this type of reaction from people makes me rant and rave.

Forget the naysayers…..

Get online! Get online everywhere!

I hope everyone understands that only the comments in Italics were actually off Rebecca Brandewyne’s site. The other ravings are those of my own. I could add to hers so easily. If people really knew how hard it is to work with publishers and sometimes editors, they would not think so lightly of the books resting on their bookshelves. That is an amazing accomplishment. But others need to know about it.

This is not a downer but it starts out with a touch of gloom!

I was on TV the day of my first book signing. I sold two books that night and those were to the same relative. My book came out at the wrong time….December 16th and the people going through the mall never even stopped to look at me. They ran past me as fast as they could to the Harry Potter books.

My first press interview, they talked more about John Grisham’s house across the street than they did my book. Then they gave my name as Hayes and my pseudonym as Lori Foster instead of Laurie Foston. We are two different authors.

I believe in holding a foot in every corner. Network, set up signings, join everything you can on the Internet, hook up with celebrities and watch them progress from 15 to 500 friends in one month’s time. What did they do to attract? Just be themselves! Be human! Sometimes we all get riled up! After their friends add up to more than they can handle…they get themselves a webmaster. (Wouldn’t that be nice?)

I have bought most of my books from Amazon’s forum discussion board authors, Facebook authors, or people who write me from Facebook and tell me about a good book. I buy from looking at their picture. I bought a lot of Rebecca Brandewyne’s books because she boldly posed herself on the back as the Damsel in the story when she first started out. She was just s-o-o-o-o a part of the story that she had to have herself in it. I bought it hook, line and sinker. Then loved the books.

Then I get on Facebook and see some authors who look like they may have a story that I haven’t heard before. Their picture tells a lot.

Take Pat Bertram’s picture for example. Pat’s picture and the kind of blurb on the back of her book match up. Sounds weird? She’s got the look of, “Rhythm-Rhythm-arie, I see something that you don’t see!” She’s spunky and has a spark of fire in her smile! Then I go to her book title, “A Spark of Heavenly Fire” and “More Deaths Than One.”

I’m sold!

Incidentally, Pat could have used the title “You Only Die Twice” and with the knowing look in her photo, she could have sold it that way too.

What? She looks like she knows something…she does!

I go to Amazon forum to Amazon Shorts ( always sign into Amazon people…get on a thread discussion…forget the naysayers…go to a forum! Every time I jump into the middle of an argument in a religious forum, I sell a batch of books. I always speak on the defense of the Lord, of course! I never have to say I am an author. They look up my name and there it is.)

Then I see a free short story advertised. (Still on Amazon right at this point!) I read it and I’m sold on buying the novel after I read the short story and see the picture of the author. He had a look like he had been in orbit.

If you have a book and don’t want to peddle bookstores, get on as many networks as possible. AOL, Yahoo, Amazon. Amazon will still be standing when brick and mortars tumble. Does your publisher have a web site that authors get on to exchange ideas? Get on there. You’ll learn how they promote their work and it will rub off on you.

Do you want privacy from the main public and want to keep your group small? Get on a Think Tank and the only people who can access that are the people you invite. Let them coach you until you are ready to take on the industry. If you have a message in your book, you have not finished what you were destined to do. You have to tell people about the message. Otherwise, it stays in the bottle and no one finds it out there in that huge sea of books.

People who have not authored a book have no expertise on the subject of how to promote a book. Your demographic area has a lot to do with local sale. However, you can take it to the bank from authors that you DO need to network and advertise to sell it no matter how big the publisher is or how long it has been out.

One more thing. In the case of Rebecca Brandewyne, the media works for her because she has degrees in journalism and communication. Unless you have a platform already on the media you will not be able to use the media as a first time author in the same way she did. I tried the media. I have a niece who was friends with the new channel hosting the “Morning Show.” They heard about the book, called my niece, and asked her for the chance to interview me because my publisher called them first. This made them look over my name and see that I had a family member working for their news channel. Thus one thing led to another and I was on that show. Things clicked together. Still the interview on TV did not affect my sales. I had sold all of my book stock to family and friends before the books came out to the public. John Grisham sold books out of the trunk of his car and even his platform in the House of Representatives could not land him an interview on TV for his first book. Media is great! Radio is great! But you need contact with your buyers. The greater salesmen will tell you that face-to-face sells more than a billboard!

If you want to sell without the media . . .  networking is the best source. Even John Grisham has a fan club on Facebook.

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7 Responses to “How To Deal With Well-Meaning Friends and Readers”

  1. Michelle McGriff Says:

    I believe in telling those folks the truth… and then welcoming them to write something ‘without’ my help, since they don’t need it. There have not been anyone to complete a project to date. That’s been 10 years now.

  2. Teresa Says:

    Thank you for your article! I really enjoyed reading it. I’m in the middle draft of my novel, and I’m working through my first set of edits. While I’m finishing the novel, I wanted to get the hang of marketing so that when I begin sending it to agents or editors, I already have my basic tools in place. I’ve started a wordpress blog, because I’m not computer literate enough to design a web page, and quite frankly, I am currently a nobody.

    When I read your article, I noticed that Ms. Foston mentions that she scans Facebook pages. Am I marketing my novel in the wrong place on a blog rather than a Facebook or Myspace page? I would appreciate any help or advice you may have on that subject.

    Teresa

  3. Pat Bertram Says:

    Theresa, if you look on the left sidebar of this blog, you will see an “Index of All Book Marketing Floozy Articles.” These are all articles about promotion, and will help you formulate a marketing plan.

    You are doing the right thing by having a blog, but that is only the first step in developing an online persona. It’s also a good idea to facebook, goodreads, and all the other sites mentioned in the Book Marketing Floozy articles.

    Michelle, I like your idea. I’ll have to try it.

  4. dellanioakes Says:

    I met a lady when I was exercising a week ago, saw her again today. She comes from a well educated, literary background. Her brothers have all written books and she always “thought it would be fun to write a book”. She’s very sweet and easy to talk to, so I didn’t shoot her down, but did try to emphasize how much work goes into a book!
    People who don’t write have no clue how much time, energy, soul, heart, sweat, effort and caffeine go into each and every book. There is no way to explain it to them, they can’t possibly ever understand. Even my own family hasn’t a clue. They suffer through my manic writing phases, but there is no sympathy or understanding. Just “Oh, well, Mom’s writing again. That’s not work!” GRR!

    Do the ones who offer to “share the profits” ever offer to share the work load? Let them market the book or, better yet, come clean my house while I write. I’d gladly share anything with anyone who was willing to do that!

  5. Scotti Cohn Says:

    Great article!

    Another comment I have received several times goes something like: “My wife/brother/cousin wrote a book. Can you tell her/him how to get it published?” It seems clear that the person expects a one- or two-sentence answer that can be quickly conveyed to the writer. Again it’s the “nothing to it” mentality. All you have to do is find the time to write a book. Getting it published is a simple matter. 😀

  6. Wendy Hardin Says:

    Wow. Thanks so much for this article. LOVED and could not agree more wholeheartedly with the discipline and gut-wrenching “sweat-factor” that even family cannot fathom. My kids often groan and ask how long it will be before I am off the computer….*sigh* I am still working on three main projects, all the while putting out short articles for freelancing.

    Though my spirit loves this lifestyle the stress involved and the profile that matches it do not line up-in the public view. That’s cool, we will pursue and modify here and there to get this thing achieved: more published work.

    Again, love love love the advice re. getting online. IT is definitely part of the formula!

    Wendy Hardin

  7. ChristopopWP Says:

    Sage sayings – the main requirement is perspiration rather than inspiration. Each of us may have at least one book in us. It’s getting the darned thing out that takes the effort. But persevere.


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