Author Etiquette - Promotion and Author Responsibility

by Jennifer 26. February 2018 15:54

Many authors believe that their only input into the sales of stories or books is the words and editing that they provide. If you are in this category, I have news for you. If you want to be a successful author, there are many more responsibilities that you will need to take on before, during, and after a release. A successful writing career relies on more than one skill it relies of a varietysome of which authors find uncomfortable. One of which is PROMOTION.


For many authors, a few posts that point to the new book or story and maybe a comment or two are all the effort some think they need, but for a successful career, every author needs to get into the habit of promoting every story and book, long after the initial release date. No matter what kind of publication path you take.


The success of your writing career depends on visibility or at least the visibility of your work. A publisher might do a small publishing push—most of which last only 4-6 weeksbut it might not. If a release push doesn’t include things such as guest posts, interviews, push to book related groups, author spotlights and advertising your book isn’t getting the push it needs to be seen.


Your future will always lay in your own hands. Yes, a publisher or a publicist, can assist you in raising your visibility, but in the long run, a habit of self promotion and seeking out promotional venues is going to benefit you personally and professionally as an author.


The Facts

Unless you are a big name author who is going to be googled often, your success relies on repetition. Because there are so many authors and works coming out daily and weekly, unless you keep putting your name out there, you will be lost in the crowd and forgotten.


Case in point:

  • How many times have you seen a short story online (free to read) but didn’t have the time to devote to reading it.
  • Did you come back to it?
  • Do you remember the name of the story, or the author, or even the venue?
  • Have you seen that author promote that story anytime since?
  • How do you expect other readers to remember your work, when you can’t remember someone else’s?


A very basic rule of advertising is a consumer needs to see an advertisement 5-7 times before they will act upon it. If you post only a few times or have only a partially active social media presence, chances are you are going to miss most of your audience. The top reasons are:

  1. because of the infrequency of your post (algorithms are not your friend)
  2. because not everyone will be online to see your post
  3. many will not act on the first viewing


If you are not posting about your work, finding venues to promote your work, or actively discussing your work, you are missing out on viewers, who are potential fans who could help build your career.


Another thing to remember. Many publishers look at an author’s social media presence. They want authors who have already put in some work into establishing an online persona. Even if a book takes a year to go from contract acceptance to release, someone who has very little or no online presence is going to be fighting an uphill battle the entire way.


The good news is, even if you don’t have a lot of online presence, it’s fairly easy to start. And the sooner you do, the better.


Simple Rules for Good Promotion

Rule 1: be yourself.

For many authors this is a bit confusing, but what it means is really simple. Be who you are, enjoy what you like to enjoy, and share those things on your feeds. If something is important to you, it’s important to other people, and that includes your work. But don’t fall into the pit of sharing nothing but your work. Remember, people want well-rounded authors just like they want well-rounded characters.


Rule 2: follow the 20% rule.

Take a look at your social media feeds. If you are posting a “Buy Me NOW” post more than 20% (one post out of 5) of the time, you are doing promotion wrong. While individual stories might catch people’s eye, a feed full of ads is only an annoyance. Most viewers will simply block and never give you another thought. Post one piece of promotion then follow with four or more posts that do not have a buy link in it. Posts can be photos, memes, questions for your audience, discussion points, sharing other articles that you think might be of interest, or any other topic.


Rule 3: Don’t Stop

The reason many authors seem to fall off the radar is after a new release or a sale, they tend to disappear. A short spike in posts does not equate long term sales or exposure. Regular posting that includes a variety of topics will raise the frequency that you are seen, keep your name fresh in people’s minds, and will result in more views and sales. Try to make it a habit of posting something new once a day, and don’t worry if you sometimes forget. Just start up where you left off.


How to Build Good Promotion Habits

Now some authors are going to complain that all they want to do is write. Promotion is difficult, too time consuming, and a waste of valuable writing time, are all arguments that are tossed around. This is a very short-sighted approach and will ultimately hurt you in the long run. In order to fulfil your responsibilities to yourself, promotional habits need to be developed. Let’s look at some easy and quick ways to promote your work.


Make your work (and your website) easy to find.

You would be surprised how many author websites do not include a bibliography or have one that is sorely out of date. Unless you are unable to access your own site, there is no reason an author cannot update their works page. Simple copy/paste and links, help readers find your work. Do this every time you have a new release.


And another thing, do be sure to link your social media accounts TO your website. This way if someone stumbles across you on FB or Twitter and wants to read more of your work, they can easily find it.


Promotion in disguise.

Not all promotion is a request to buy your book. Some can be disguised as reviews, guest posts, and interviews. While these can be time consuming to gather at first, if you take one day a week or even a month, you can find a variety of places that will help you promote your work.

The best way to do this is to watch other author’s feeds for reviews. When you see one, click through, save the address in a folder, and then when you have time, go back and see if your work is eligible for a review. When a review, guest post, or interview comes up, be sure to repost and thank the host!


Another way to promote in disguise is to use memes. I’m sure you’ve seen images that say “How to Love an Author” or images with coffee cups and ink pens. Unless these are copyrighted to a specific author or company, save the image and re-use it later. If you post a meme of authors loving any kind of review, who knows, the reminder might just be for you!


Social Media Managers.

If you don’t think you have time to post regularly, invest in a social media manager. These programs connect your social media feeds into a simple, easy to access platform. Many of these programs are free, but these versions have limitations. A full version can be very cost effective for a few months especially if you are in the middle of a book launch.


One of the biggest advantage of social media managers is the ability to schedule posts. It is possible to schedule an entire month of promotion in just an hour once you learn the program. To expedite the process, have links to reviews, guest posts, and interviews handy (and pre-shortened), along with text, purchasing links and images. Vary the wording so that you aren’t repeating yourself too often. Once the promotion is scheduled, you do need to be sure that you are making other posts but the hardest part is over. (oh and save those posts on a sheet somewhere and use them again next month!)


In order to ensure you are successful as an author, you need to take responsibility for promotion. Even if a publisher does their own promotion, there is nothing wrong with you going the extra mile to ensure that your work is seen by as many viewers as possible. Even after the book or story is released, there is no need to stop promoting that work. Promotional habits are easy to start and even easier to keep going, you just have to get started.



Author Etiquette - Awards and Award Etiquette

by Jennifer 31. January 2018 09:56

Now that 2017 has officially ended, it’s time to start thinking about AWARDS. There are all types of awards. Some are for artwork, some specifically for poetry, still others are for a particular genre or subgenre. Each type of award has its own set of rules on who can apply and at what time. There are also rules on who may or may not vote for particular awards. Today we are going to discuss different types of awards, who qualifies, the etiquette of being nominated, and of course, why awards matter.


Why Awards Matter

Some people might wonder why awards matter? For some, they don’t. Many great authors never win any awards at all. But for some, it’s a goal post that they would like to achieve. Different authors have different interpretations on what makes awards matter. They range from:

  • Becoming a professional
  • Networking opportunities
  • Agent or publishing deals
  • Awards being a “gold star” on a bibliography
  • Attention from fans and other professionals
  • Possibly more sales

All of these interpretations, and more, are good reasons for every author to locate and post what works they have available for many different types of awards. Some may take work to find, but they can be a fun way to connect with more readers.  



First, before anything else, find out what the awards are about, who puts them on, and what are the nomination requirements. No matter what kind of award is out there, there are rules. Be sure to read and understand them. Follow the rules and etiquette associated with them.


Types of Awards

If you’ve seen an influx of posts from your favorite authors on the works they published in the previous year, you know it’s nomination time again. For convenience, many authors compile their work into a single post so that readers can easily find yearly works, not only because someone might have missed a release, but to help refresh a reader’s minds on what they read the previous year. Many authors would love to have their works nominated for Industry awards, but Fan and personal awards are also greatly appreciated.


Industry Awards

Industry awards are given out by professional organizations and some large professional conventions in the industry. Most major writing organizations such as SFWA (Nebulas), HWA (Stokers), RWA (RITA Award) and IAMTA (Scribe) have their own awards and their own set of rules about who can nominate and who can vote. A few large conventions such as World Con (Hugos) have their own industry awards. These awards are usually the pinnacle of the genre and highly sought after.


Smaller lesser known awards like Ursa Major Awards (for Anthropomorphics) are given out by groups who specialize in particular sub genres. Other industry awards include awards given out to authors who live in a particular area or state.


Most of these professional awards limit voting to either members of the organization. attendees of the convention, or to a select group of judges familiar with the genre or subgenre.


Fan Awards

Fan awards are awards that are voted upon by fans. A fan award can be very large such as the Dragons (DragonCon) or small such as an award held on a book promotion site. These are often open voting awards where authors solicit votes from their fans.


While often not as well known or even prestigious, these awards can get your books in front of more readers, so although it takes time and effort, they are worth pursuing.


Personal Awards

Personal awards are often given by individuals such as bloggers or sometimes even other authors. While they are mainly a “Best of” list, they still hold weight in the minds of readers. It can be a great honor to receive a personal award, especially if you receive one of these from your own favorite author!


Who Qualifies for Awards?

Everyone qualifies for some award or another. (Note: qualify does not equate to winning.) The deciding factor is reading the rules of the awards you want to be submitted for and following them. Most newly published works from the previous year are eligible for awards; however, some awards have cut off dates before the end of the year, so read closely. Other awards require that you be a member of a group or live in a particular state or region. If you don’t qualify, don’t apply.


Award Etiquette

Being awarded or even nominated for an award is a great honor, but there are right and wrong ways of going about getting on the ballot. The etiquette of being nominated for industry awards can be complicated while fan awards can wear you down because you are soliciting votes. Always be sure of the rules for each kind of award you are being nominated for and the etiquette attached to such awards.


Publication Lists

Many authors put together a list of works that are eligible for nomination. These lists contain novels, novellas, short stories, and even blog posts that they’ve written in the previous year. While an author might have other stories out, some could be reprints which are not eligible or other works that don’t fit into specific division. Often authors will list categories such as novel, short story, editor, or nonfiction work to help people classify the work. Posting a list of eligible works is not soliciting for votes in most cases.


Recommended Reading Lists

Organizations, groups, forums, and even individuals may create lists of works that they enjoyed. Often works on the list are grouped by year, although they can be grouped by genre or subgenre, relativity to the group, or other category. Works on the list may or may not be eligible for awards depending on the publication date. Recommended reading lists are often a head’s up for works that people enjoy; however, if a group posts the recommended lists and pushes that list, it could be considered a slate.


Vote Solicitation

Solicitation of votes occurs when an author specifically asks people to vote for them. For industry awards this is considered bad form; however in some fan and personal awards this is considered okay. If you are unsure of the etiquette of an award read the rules first. If things are unclear, then ask either other professionals who have been nominated before, the committee, governing body of the award, or do some research. For the most part, do not solicit votes on industry awards.


Slates and Log Rolling

For many awards slates and log rolling are two ways to “beat the system” and win an award. These are frowned upon tactics. Many industry awards have created rules to either diminish the usefulness of such tactics or eliminate them altogether.


In a slate, a group or individual produces a list of works to nominate and vote upon. If a group then votes for those works on the list, it increases the chances that those works will appear on the final ballot and then win the award.


Log rolling is a practice of requesting votes on particular work for favors. These favors can range from promoting someone else's work, recommending preferential treatment, or other favors.



Each award has its own rules on how an author or works get on the nomination list. Publishers, publicists, fans, editors, and other authors can nominate a work for consideration for many awards. For the most part, an author does not nominate themselves, but there are some exceptions. If an indie or self published author wants to submit a work for consideration as a publisher, that can be acceptable for some awards (but read the rules).


Do note that to be included in some awards, you might be required to release copies of your work to the voting body. Other awards just require publication information such as release date, publisher, and other publication information.


You can direct readers, fans, and family members to where works can be nominated, however, suggesting your work is generally frowned upon.


Preliminary Ballots

Some awards have a preliminary ballot that compiles the top few works in each category. For large awards where many works are nominated this narrows the field down to a few for the final vote.


If your work makes it to a preliminary ballot it is a good idea to make some sort of post about it. However, do not solicit votes. DO be sure your work is available for reading to the voting body. Discuss this with your publisher on what you need to do if necessary.


Final Ballot

If you do happen to make it onto the final ballot, first congratulations!  Do make other people aware that your name is on the list and where to find your work. Again, don’t ask for votes. There’s a few other things you’ll need to do.


For smaller awards such as personal awards or smaller awards held on blog sites, composing a thank you to those who voted for you is always a great idea. It’s great content for your platform even if you don’t win. Talk about your experiences and what you’ll do next time.


Industry and the larger fan awards awards are a bit more complex. Many times there is some sort of banquet or celebration for these awards. You, of course are invited to go if you so choose. Do be sure to find out more about the awards and what is expected. Many of these award ceremonies are hours long and are followed by various other activities. Even if you do not think you have a chance of winning, do write out an acceptance speech--you never know.


During the award, do be a good participant. Because only a few works will win, do be realistic. If you win be graceful. It is okay to be upset if you lose. Try to have fun the rest of the evening.


Pay attention to what awards people are talking about in the next few months. Even if you have nothing for nominations this year, you still have 11 months until the cycle starts again. Keep writing, learning, and honing your craft and your name will appear in some awards in the future.


Good luck.


Author Etiquette Series List

by Jennifer 28. December 2017 08:50

Here ends the third year of Author Etiquette posts by Jennifer Brozek and Sarah Craft. They will continue in 2018. We thought it would be useful to round them up for authors to find more easily.

Note: The 2017 blog posts are eligible for the Hugo Award for Best Related Work for 2018.


Jan - Your Stories Matter

Feb - Rolling the Dice: Taking Chances and Improving Your Odds

Mar - Keeping the Professional and Personal Separate

Apr - Professional Writer Organizations

May - Social Media: What’s, Why’s and How’s

Jun - How to Take an Extended Break

Jul - There Are No Shortcuts in Publishing

Aug - Social Media Management: Before Your Release

Sep - Social Media Management: During Your Release

Oct - Social Media Management: After Your Release

Nov - Reviews

Dec - Dealing with Negativity


Jan - Author Care: The BAD Side of Creativity

Feb - Refilling the Creative Well

Mar - Follow the Instructions

Apr - The Editor is Your Story’s Best Friend

May - Contracts: Why You Need Them and What to Watch Out For

Jun -  Conventions, Networking, and Professionalism

Jul - Submission Services and the Importance of YOUR Data

Aug - How to be a Good Panelist… or Audience Member

Sep - Reminders on Professionalism

Oct - Social Media Safety

Nov - Promotion in Times of Turmoil

Dec - It’s Okay to be a Weird Kind of You


Jan - It’s All Connected

Feb - Patience

Mar - Grace

Apr - Death Threats are NOT Okay

May - How to Promote Yourself

Jun - How to Deal with Jealousy

Jul - Be Careful What You Say

Aug - Promoting without Annoying

Sep - Dealing with Disappointment

Oct - Do you Need an Author Platform?

Dec - Hold That Novel


Author Etiquette - Dealing with Negativity

by Jennifer 26. December 2017 09:45

Good day dear readers. Welcome again to another Author Etiquette. As the year draws to a close, we’d like to offer you our heartfelt holiday wishes. We know that this time of year is stressful for many, so please take care.

On that note, there’s been quite a lot of tension in the air. Whether it’s because of the holiday stress or other issues, negativity has run rampant in our SFF community. At times, it’s a simple misunderstanding. In other cases, it seems as though there’s a full out war between different people and factions. Sometimes, the two parties can come together and forge stronger relations. In many cases, the negativity is a wedge that drives people further apart.

Negativity is one of those things that can be either good or bad, depending on the context and the recipient. It can be used as a tool to help someone improve their writing, or it can be used to destroy someone’s sense of self worth. Negativity can be both received and given, intentionally and unintentionally.

We will look at several aspects of negativity and how to deal with it.

What is Negativity?
Negativity (adj) is defined as:

  1. The expression of criticism of something.
  2. Expressing refusal to do something.
  3. Lacking positive attributes.
  4. Encouraging or noting an unhealthy or unbalanced outlook on something.

We will concentrate our discussion on definitions 1 and 4.

I’m sure that everyone has dealt with someone who is critical of a specific thing or just about everything. Whether it be your clothing, your writing, or how you speak, that criticism could be taken as constructive for a while, but eventually, it begins to grate on you. Once those people are identified, most people distance themselves or try to have limited contact. The reverse is true if you are the person being critical of others. You might think you are being helpful, but in the long run, you are setting up a situation where you alienate those around you. Or, people do not take your criticism seriously after a time.

In our SFF community, there are people who regularly jump on others, whether for attention, to de-legitimize a position, or other purpose. They often have an unbalanced outlook on certain things. Often they have a small group of supporters who will eagerly jump onto the dog pile once their leader has given them a target. Much of the community tries to avoid those trolls as much as possible.

Where Can Negativity Be Found?
Negativity can be found anywhere: at home, at work, during your commute, in personal correspondence, and especially in online social settings.

Sometimes it’s deserved such as, messing up a work presentation, learning a new crafting technique, or when you said something rude. A quick short rebuke is nothing to be worried about even if it might make you uncomfortable.

Many times the target has done nothing wrong except be female, LGBT, POC, or expressed an opinion that someone else didn’t like. It can escalate quickly from a mild disagreement to cursing, death threats, or worse. This is especially true in social media where people can hide behind false identities to harass the victim. Some people have had to leave jobs, move to another town, and involve the authorities when negativity grows too large.

What to do When Faced With Negativity
Everyone faces brief periods of negativity from time to time. Sometimes it is deserved, but other times you might be the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time. When faced with negativity there are several steps that can help resolve the situation or help protect you and those you care about.

Evaluate the situation.
Have you done or said something that deserves the negativity?

Find out where the negativity is coming from.
Is the negativity coming from an individual or a group?

Evaluate what the other party wants.
Does someone want an apology?  Is there something you can do to make it right? Or are you at the mercy of the storm?

Decide to fight or walk away.
This can be a personal decision or you can ask for legal help or even help from friends and family.

These suggestions can be taken in any order and can be re-explored as new information arises.

Gut Instincts
Many times our first instinct is to fight or argue when faced with negativity. Sometimes it is the right response, but not always. In some cases, arguing with the other party can give them more fuel to use against you.

If you need to write out a response immediately, do so on physical paper, or in a word processing program. This protects you in multiple ways. First, you don’t accidentally hit send at any point while you are writing. Second, you can fully explore your own range of emotions where no one else can see it. Third, you can always copy it over to your social media or email later. Fourth, or you can burn, delete, or shred it if you so desire.

Many times, once you read back over what you have written, you realize your rebuttal will just make things worse.

Over the past few months, there have been several letters of apology from companies, celebrities, and others. Some letters have been done well, addressed the issue, and outlined what the person would do to prevent the action from happening again. Others have been less than what they should have been. Every one of us, whether you are working as the mouthpiece of a company or as an individual, has had to apologize for something. For some people, it’s a very difficult thing to do and very few people do it well. If you are the recipient of well deserved negativity, APOLOGIZE. It’s the first step to making things right.

To create a believable apology first you have to acknowledge your action or words that caused hurt to others. If you did it or said it OWN IT. Don’t make excuses. Don’t give people reasons unless you are asked later. Do not at any point try to remove the blame from your own actions. Do not try to justify what you said. Do not place blame on someone else. State what you did or said and say “I’m sorry.”

Next, outline ways you will use to try to prevent the same action from happening again if possible, even if it is being aware of your own actions. If you need assistance with some actions, do call professionals in to help.

There’s nothing wrong with admitting you are wrong and saying you are sorry. It’s better if you also acknowledge what you need to do/avoid in the future.

When to Fight Back
Here’s where things get tricky. As I said before, most of the time, our first instinct is to fight back against negativity. It might not always be a good idea, but sometimes it is. When you receive negativity that is not deserved such as innocence, mistaken identity, or social injustice, you can choose to fight back and there are several ways to do this. However, be aware before you fight back, that it can be exhausting and time consuming and you might be fighting on more than one front.

First, before you start, know what negativity is being tossed your way, who is doing it, and try to get an idea why. Who, what, when,where and why are your best friends in this situation. While you might not be able to plan too far ahead, you can at least choose how you approach the situation. Always remember, when confronting an individual or a group, discuss the ISSUE, never attack the person.

In some cases, you can defuse a negative situation by offering undeniable proof that negates their claims. Allow the person to review the evidence and hope that they see reason.

If you’ve ever worked in retail or customer service, you know that sometimes people just need to vent. Usually, you are in the wrong place at the wrong time, but sometimes just acknowledging that you hear them breaks the tension.

So I’m taking a page out of some of the best RPG games here. Sometimes you just have to wade in and take the damage in order to get through the other side. It’s hard, it hurts, and you’ll probably need some recovery time later. Pair up with support from family and friends to help you get through.

Fighting negativity can be exhausting and not everyone can do it. For big issues, it’s best to have multiple people taking up the fight that way no one person becomes exhausted. It’s also okay to fight at your own pace. Sometimes, it’s a bunch of tiny little skirmishes that finally brings down a bigger adversary than one large battle.

When to Walk Away
Not every fight against negativity can be won. And not every fight should even happen. There is nothing wrong about walking away from negativity. It doesn't matter if you do not have the time, energy, or desire to fight against it. Walking away does not make you a coward. It means, you just aren’t going to deal with it. It is always your choice.

Even if you have started fighting, you can always walk away at any point. For any reason. At any time. You do not owe anyone an argument, your time, or even your attention. If at anytime you begin to get tired, walk away before you start making mistakes. You can always come back later.

If you are the victim of a negativity campaign, always remember that blocking, unfriending, and muting are your best friends. This way, your harassers are unable to contact you or view your posts.

Your Safety
Simple negativity can escalate quickly. If you are threatened, screenshot and save those files. Posts can be edited on many social media platforms so screenshots could be the only way to verify that harassment and threats have been issued.

While it might seem redundant, do notify your local police department if you have been threatened. Notify the social media platform and provide screenshots of the threats. Do what you need to do to protect yourself.

Unfortunately dealing with negativity is something that many people deal with on a regular basis. We hope that this guide can help you navigate the storms that you face in the future.


Author Etiquette - REVIEWS

by Jennifer 30. November 2017 08:40

If you are a published author, or about to become published, you should be aware that reviews are critical for a book. Not only are they a gauge of how people like your work, but it’s also a tool that many distributors and publishers use for various purposes. Some distributors such as Amazon will push your book more often to readers if it reaches a certain number of reviews. More views can mean the book will sell more. This makes it essential that every book reaches its review goals so that it is visible to more readers. Not only that, but reviews can entice a reader you have no contact with, to purchase a book.


Book reviewers are everywhere. Some are are long standing members of the writing community. Others are just getting their feet wet. Reviewers post on their blogs, on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and even more sites. With the thousands of books out there, many readers rely on what those reviewers say to help pick out their next book. The problem is, how do you get those reviews, especially during that very fragile launch week.


Promotion is Your Responsibility Too

No matter if you are working with one of the big publishing houses, a small press or self-publishing, every author needs to realize that the long-term success of a book lies not in the publisher or even in a publicist but ON YOU. Your publisher is only going to push your book for so long before they move on to pushing the next book on their release list. Four to six weeks is usually the maximum you can expect for a promotion push which usually spans the few weeks before and weeks after the release. Finding reviewers, writing guest posts, answering interviews and responding to requests will endear you to any publisher you work with and help you sell more books. It is important to remember that reviews can be done on books at any stage after the release. Even if a book is a year old, reviews still matter. Your publisher might not have the time to pursue later reviews, but you still can.


There’s three things you need to do in finding reviewers: first, build your list; second, gather your press kit; third, send out the requests.


Building Your List

I’m sure that everyone spends a little bit of time weekly or daily using social media. While your list might contain co-workers, friends and family, it might also contain other authors or your particular favorites. As an author, you should always pay attention to other author pages. Not to compare your writing to someone else, instead, pay attention to who is reviewing, what they review, and where to contact them at. This can--and should--be done all throughout the year, not just when you are looking for reviews. If you are in a hurry, just click on the site and bookmark it for later. Trust me, this will save you a lot of time later. Just bookmark it, toss the link in a folder and keep building that list.


While you are looking at those review sites, pay attention to the sidebars. Many times, a reviewer is involved in a coalition or group and help promote other reviewers. Finding a reviewer that has links to other sites can be a goldmine for an author looking for reviews.


Let’s back up just a moment and take another look at your social media feed. Did you know you can ASK the people you are friends with to review your book? It’s not rude or needy or anything shady. The people who follow you are invested in your success and could be a great resource for reviews. Best policy is to ask who would be interested, and put them in a secret group. This way you can keep track of who the book went out to, if they left a review, and maybe give away some goodies to loyal readers. Also you can use the group later on for another review requests.


Another way you can build your list is by old fashioned searching. Open up your favorite browser and use keywords to search for review sites. Because there are so many reviewers out there, a blanket “novel review” is going to give you more sites than you want to deal with. Be sure to keep the search narrow enough by using genre or sub-genres and maybe one other specific term. Bookmark the ones that look likely to review your genre.


And yes, there are lists on the internet where book bloggers can list their site, what books they like to review, and if they are currently open for submissions. Some can be very helpful, while others, not so much. Be sure that the information is accurate, and be careful of your personal data while mining these sites--not all are what they seem.


Lastly, there are sites that offer to send your book to reviewers or review your book for a fee. While some authors and publishers do use these kinds of services, I would advise against it. If you are caught paying for reviews, sites such as Amazon can pull your reviews, rank, or even books and ban you from using their services. Be aware of shady phrasing such as “expedited” reviews as those are just clever ways of saying you pay for a review.


At some point, you should create something to organize your list. Spreadsheets allow you to organize your  bookmarks into site, guideline page (very important--I’ll talk more about this in a bit), email or contact page, genre(s) reviewed, and other important information. And I do suggest that you take the time to follow many of the reviewers on social as you can and interact at least a little. This shows you are interested in their work, and might be the deciding factor if they’ve two books that could fill a slot--one of which is yours.


Press Kit

So now that you have your review list, what do you do next?


Before you even begin to contact reviewers, you should start out by creating a press kit. For those who are unfamiliar with a press kit, it should contain:

  • Your author photo

  • Book cover images

  • Your bio

  • Information on your publisher (if you have one)

  • Your book pitch

  • Website and social media sites

  • Book trailers

  • Buy links

The book pitch is quite similar to the pitch you send to an agent or a publisher as it tells what genre the books is, length, who the characters are and what the main plot is. You can use the blurb on the back of your book or create your own. You can combine the bio, publisher information, and book pitch into a single introduction letter or leave them separate. Have someone else check for spelling and grammar errors (trust me it’s important that your first impression to every reviewer be professional, and we all know that humans make mistakes.) Once all that is completed you are ready to start sending out requests.


Sending Out Requests

While some reviewers do take unsolicited book review submissions, most do not. Remember that little comment about the guideline page being very important? Here’s where that comes in.


Before you start, get comfortable, because this is the part that takes a bit of time. Hopefully you’ve already organized your list so that you can easily find the guideline page or at least the review site home page. Unfortunately, not all guideline or contact pages are easy to find so it might take you a bit to locate what you need.


Once it’s found, READ THE GUIDELINES.


Then read them again.


If a reviewer is closed to requests, make a note and come back later. DO NOT go ahead and send your review request unless you have been personally asked to do so.


If the reviewer is open to review submissions follow their guidelines. Pretend that every submission is just like a new book submission to a publisher. You have to follow their guidelines in order to give the impression of a professional. By not following their instructions, your book might not even be given a passing glance. Fill out the form or send an email with the information the reviewer requests. If they don’t have specifics, send an email with your book pitch, bio, publisher information, book cover, and where to contact you. DO NOT SEND YOUR BOOK unless directed to.


You might think it’s a time saving step to go ahead and send your book out, but it could potentially be more trouble than you think. First, not all review sites are what they seem. Some could be sites that phish for books so that it can be pirated. Second, sending a book increases the file size of your email, which could get it blocked by some servers. This would prevent your email from even being received by the reviewer. Thirdly, do you know what format the reviewer would like? Some request physical books, others prefer PDF, Mobi, or ePub files. Find out before you send a book out.


I encourage authors to also state that they are open to interview and guest posts opportunities when sending out reviews. Some reviewers receive thousands--yes THOUSANDS--of book review requests a year. There’s no way that any reviewer could possibly read all of them in a single year. Most also have jobs, families and other responsibilities along with their voracious reading habits so there’s always empty spots to fill on blogs and websites. By offering some free content, even if the reviewer can’t read your book, you still have a chance to sit in front of an audience and share a little about you and your work.


Then comes the part that no one likes, you wait--or in a smart author’s case either write more or send out more review requests. Most reviewers, unfortunately, will not respond. Either the book did not catch their interest or they are full and cannot review your book. However, don’t give up hope on a silent inbox. Some reviewers are so backlogged it can take months to hear back from them, and in rare cases it can take a year for one to make a request. A few will respond that the book doesn’t entice them at the moment. And a tiny portion will request the book or request a guest blog or interview. Don’t be disheartened by the percentage of responses you get, it will probably be low.


When you do get a request, respond to the reviewer as soon as you can with either the information they need or the book format they request. Thank them for their time, even if they haven’t read anything but the request. Be patient for reviews but you can expect that most will have something up within a month or two. As they go up, be sure to thank the reviewer and share the links if they put the review up on their site.


We hope that this helps you find reviewers and answers some questions about what the author’s responsibilities are when finding review sites. Good luck and may the reviews be with you.


Author Etiquette: Social Media Management: After Your Release

by Jennifer 31. October 2017 08:55

You’ve finally been published and survived the hectic time that is release week. All the blog posts have been written and are up on various sites and you have reviews coming in. You think you have time for a quick breakmaybe you dobut do remember that promoting your work on social media never stops.


If you’d like to review what to do Before your release go right ahead, we’ll still be here when you get back.


Last month we went over what to do During your release. We looked at:

  • Social Media as a tool

  • Content

  • Promotion Pages

  • Fan Groups

  • Press Releases

  • Blog Tours

  • Personal appearances

  • And Newsletters.


Today we are going to focus on how to keep your social media stream going and still promote your book after your release.


After the release period is normal to step back from heavy promoting. After all, you book is out the the wild and people are reading it. Right?


Kind of.


Although the Before and During phases of a book release are extremely important, keeping your social media stream active keeps your new book in people’s minds. Your social media stream in the After phase should be dedicated to reminding people of your new book, updates on upcoming works, and telling people where they can see you in person. But you still have to be careful not to turn your social media feeds into a “BUY IT NOW” spamfest.


How Often

There’s a balance you will need to keep when it comes to your social media stream. Only 20% of your posts should be about buying a book. If you are very active on Facebook, Twitter and other social media streams, this will be an easy to do. However, if you are not active, it will be a challenge to stay under that 20%.


Generating content can be simple. Participate in photo challenges. Ask questions of your friends. Post updates on your next book by selecting a snippet. And post updates on everything from guest appearances, reviews and promote yourself. However, do remember to be YOU. And if that means you talk about other things besides writing, go right ahead.


Keep Writing

Even though your book is out, it doesn’t mean you need to stop writing. If readers liked your book, they will be looking for more. That means you’d better be putting words on the page. By having works out regularly you will build an audience of fans quicker than if you take several years between books. (Note this rule doesn’t apply to everyoneI’m sure you can think of a few authors.)


Writing applies to short stories too, not just novels. If the short story bug bites, scratch it. Short story publications can help you gather an audience you might not even know about. Write that story, edit it, and send it out. Announce when and if it gets accepted. Post links to where it can be read or purchased. Be sure to update your bio to reflect your recent publications and be sure to have links to your social media streams.


Conventions and Events

Now that your book is out, be sure to purchase copies for conventions and events. Any events or conventions that you attend, should be publicized on your social media stream. Announce an event as soon as you are accepted (whether it is as a guest, a dealer or just attending) and then remind fans on your newsletter and on your social media stream of where you will be. If you are guest of the event and doing panels, are doing a reading or holding an autograph session, do be sure to post a schedule as soon as you are able.


If you are comfortable with photos being online, allow fans to take a selfie with you or encourage them to take a photo of the new book and tag you in the comments.  Try to comment and/or like the photos as soon as possible.


Review Reminders

For some authors this might feel like begging, but many people finish a book and don’t leave a review. It’s okay to post memes about reviews and how they help authors on your pages. It’s also okay to remind your fan group to leave a review if they have volunteered to read and review the book. The more reviews you have on certain sites, the more likely it will be seen by readers who purchase books like your own on the recommended feeds.


Blog and review sites are a different matter. If you haven’t noticed by now, a majority of reviewers are backlogged and can only review a small portion of books that they receive. If you received a book request, sent a book, and haven’t heard back from the reviewer in several months you can query as to the status. However, do be prepared to 1not hear back from the reviewer and 2be told that the book did not catch the reviewer’s interest. Remember, not to take it personally. Reviewers can receive hundreds of books a year and there’s just no way they can read them all.



If you are writing other books, be sure to keep your readers updated on your progress. Regular updates on the next book in the series, short stories, or essays related to your works or interests keeps people interested.  It’s an easy way to generate content for your site or for your fan pages.


Updates can include anything from word counts to your excitement over sales numbers. If it has something to do with your book, you should post something about it. And if your book goes on sale, be sure to mention it on as many feeds as possible.


Get Nosey

Watch your own social media feeds for opportunities to participate in guest posts, group discussions and interviews. Although your book is out, it doesn’t mean you have to stop promoting it.


Unlike the Before phase of your book launch, the After phase is more relaxed. You aren’t frantically trying to do as much as possible in a short amount of time. Instead, you can refine your searches more. Narrow down your genre and subgenre and apply yourself to connecting with groups or reviewers many of which can be found on social media streams.


Do contact other reviewers, blog hosts and interviewers that you run across and let them know you have a book out even after the launch. Even if they turn you down, you’ve established contact for next time.


Use Those Reviews

Although it’s good advice to NOT read the reviews, if you do get a good one, do make sure that readers know about it. If it’s on a review site, link it in your newsletter and on your social media feeds.


You can also use reviews and book blurbs in other promotional materials such as ads, praise pages, and more. This is a good way to spread good news on your work.


Promote Yourself

Lastly, don’t be afraid to promote your own work. If a friend asks for a book recommendation, and your book fits the descriptors, mention it. It might seem crass to some, but you are your book’s advocate. No one, not even your publisher, is going to push harder for your work. A book’s success depends on you. And sometimes that means you have to put your work up on a list.


Promoting your own work means that you believe in it. Not only have you invested time in writing, editing and submitting, you are also putting in time to making sure as many people as possible see it and have the opportunity to purchase it if they so choose. And yes, this means you have to take time from working on other things but you are not only establishing the current publication but anything that you publish in the future.


Although quite a few authors think that the majority of the work is finished once the book is launched, that isn’t the case. If you don’t want to fade into the background, keep your social media feed active. Mention your book at least once a week. It keeps you in the spotlight for just a few moments, maybe just long enough for a reader to remember you have a book out.



Author Etiquette - Social Media Management: During Your Release

by Jennifer 29. September 2017 12:09

Book promotion is often a questionable process for many authors. Caught between promoting too much or not enough, writers often lean too far to one side or the other during critical release times. This leaves potential readers to either turn away from the author or not notice the promotions at all.


Last month AIP took a look at Social Media Management: Before Your Release. We looked at:

  • Social media accounts

  • Why you need to start a social media presence

  • Content and how to create it

  • When to promote

  • How often

  • And where to promote.


Today, we will look at how to promote your books during your release.


For the most part, your during release phase is about one month before and a month or two after the release date. This gives you plenty of time to either promote a pre-order, if you have one, and follows you through the weeks after your release. While your release date is very important, building sales the month before and following up for the next few weeks can help your book stay in a higher visibility tier.


Social Media as a Promotion Tool

Social media is a tool just like a pen and paper. It can be used for a variety of things, but for authors, it’s a great tool to connect with readers.

First, if you’ve already been contacting reviewers, guest blogs and interviewers, you’ve been generating content for your next release. Increase the frequency these links appear on your social media streams. Posting different links 3 times a day (morning, noon, and night) increases the visibility of these posts making it more likely a variety of people will click on them.


Second, be more visible on social media. Gradually increase the frequency that you post. If you’ve posted a few times a week two months before your release, start posting once a day. If you are unsure about content, you can always look for good writing articles, news about your release, or photos you take with your phone. Even memes that relate to writing can offer some great content. And don’t be afraid to post something that will generate discussion (note: not arguments.) if you have the energy to keep up.


Third, be sure to still be a person. Don’t turn your social media feed into a “BUY ME NOW” fest. No more than 20% of your posts should be about promotion. But if you increase your posting frequency, you will automatically have more promotional posts going up.



The few weeks leading up to your release is a great place to fill your social media feed with lots of great content. If you are working with a publisher, then ask for some information you can put on your blog. Many are willing to give you some free content.


Another way to get content is to open up your blog to other authors. Guest posts on the subject of writing are welcome and attract readers from beyond your fan circle. Pick a theme and start asking who would like to write.


Promotion Pages

Even if you aren’t doing a pre-order, you should post your book to different promotional pages at least two weeks before your release date. Although people cannot buy the book yet, they are aware of it. This way when the book launches and the orders are open, readers will be already eager to buy.


Fan Groups

Social media is full of fans. Fans of sports, fans of TV shows, and fans of genre and subgenres. These groups are out there for people to share their love of a specific thing. If your writing fits into a fan group and that group allows promotion, go right ahead and post about your work on the page. If they don’t allow promotion, become active in the group. Comment on some posts and post some questions of your own. You’ll attract attention, and hopefully lead new fans to your books.


Create a Press Release

While promoting on your feeds is essential, other venues exist. Creating a press release can help you reach more readers. Press releases are used by other venues to announce events. There’s many places on the internet that will post your press release for free but you’ve got to have all of your information together.


Writing a press release is fairly simple you just have to remember: Who, What, When, Where, and Why.

  • You begin with Who you are.

  • What the press release is about.

  • When the preorder is open and/or when the release date is.

  • Where the book is being release at (platforms such as Amazon, B&N, Smashwords, etc)

  • Why you are contacting them.

If at all possible, include a author photo, cover image, links to your social media streams, website and publisher site.


Ask other authors if they know of places that have press releases or Google your own!


Blog Tours

Blog tours are another great way to generate excitement and best used in the during your release phase. To do this, you will have to start early by contacting other authors and bloggers but it’s a great way to increase your reach.


First, when reaching out to reviewers and other authors explain that you are going to do a blog tour and ask if they’d like to be a part of it. Once you have their response, you can write guest posts and/or answer interview questions. Be sure to include your bio, cover image, author photo and order links when you send your responses back.  Be sure to use those links for content and promotions!


Personal Appearances

Although most of what we’ve been dealing with today is online promotion, we do need to add personal appearance and how you can use them to generate more content for your social media streams. Personal appearances can be anything from attending your local writer’s group, a convention, reading or signing opportunity.  While spur of the moment appearances work for some authors, a well planned event is often a better choice.


If you are attending a reading or signing, you will want to give your fans enough time to be able to plan on attending. Announcing a few times a week at least two weeks prior to the event is often enough time for fans to arrange their own social schedules if they are in the area. If you are attending a convention, it’s best to announce it as soon as possible and then mention it as the convention date approaches. It’s also a good idea to have a list of appearances somewhere on your website.


As your event becomes closer, you will want to mention it more frequently on your social media streams. You might announce what book you will be reading from or if you will have special swag for your attendees. If you are attending a convention you might also want to tag some of the people you will be attending with in your posts.


During the event, you can take photos of your attendees, other guests, (with permission!) and generate all sorts of new content.  Encourage fans to take photos of you and the books they purchase. If they put those up on social media and tag you, like and respond! You can post a recap of your experiences on your website or blog. (Positive and negative experiences are welcome.) And while this is promotion, it is disguised as having a great time!



Before I forget, the during phase of a release is the prime time to send out newsletters. Newsletters allow you to announce new projects, when pre-orders are open and when you will be attend events.


What? You don’t have one?


Not to worry. There’s some really simple ways to develop a newsletter.  You can either:

  • Create a spreadsheet with names and emails

  • Create a Google Group

  • Subscribe to a newsletter subscription service


The hardest part is getting people to sign up. This is why you need to mention it at least once a week on your social media streams and any time you have a personal appearance. If you have a table or booth, you might have a small computer set up so people can sign up immediately. Or have people write down their information. QR codes can also take people directly to your website from their cell phones.


The biggest issue authors have in promoting their books during a release is not wanting to sound like a broke record screaming “BUY ME NOW” to their audience. So instead of promoting your books, generate lots of content by using press releases, a blog tour, personal appearances, and by participating in fan and promotional sites.


The key is to be highly visible during your release.


Author Etiquette - Social Media Management: Before Your Release

by Jennifer 30. August 2017 08:47

I keep saying on this series that being an author is a lot of work. Quite a few people don’t understand that. The perception is, once a book is written, it gets published, and then people buy the book and the money rolls in. But that’s only the very basics of what happens. There’s a thousand other steps in becoming a published author. And one of those is managing your social media.


Most of us are very familiar with social media. We use it to connect with old school mates, co-workers, and family. But social media can connect you with even more people than just your close circle. It can connect you with people all over the world. Many of which could be potential readers. It is a tool that you can use to increase your readership, which is very important for any author.


But how do you manage it? Do you just blurt out your news every hour of the day? Do you set up some kind of schedule? Do you have to be online ALL DAY?


Well, it all depends on where you are at in your publishing schedule.


There are three main phases of social media management: before your story comes out, during release, and maintaining your presence after the release. While some of the steps overlap, there’s some definite differences in how you approach social media during those time.


Today we are going to discuss what to do before a release.


Getting Started

Before you have a release out, you need to make sure you have a social media presence in the first place. What this means is, you have accounts set up, you are actively using them, and you have followers. This can be a very difficult step for some authors but it helps tremendously when you are trying to promote your work.


First, if you do not have any social media presence at all (which I have encountered before), open up a free blog (if you don’t have a website already) and sign up for the most popular social media platforms. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are a few of the most popular for authors. Look up friends, family and some popular authors and friend/follow them. Join some groups. Interact with other people on the internet. This will gain you a presence in the platform you are using.


Next, if you haven’t already, create a professional page on Facebook. Lots of reasons to do this but some of the most important are:

  • Keeping your private and personal spaces separate

  • No limit on followers

  • The ability to promote your work without being slapped on the hand by Terms of Service issues.

Lastly, use them. Social media is useless as a tool if you are not posting and connecting with people. Post something on your blog once a week, even if it’s an update on writing progress or a photo you took with your phone. At least once a day post something on Facebook and Twitter, even it’s liking a few posts or retweeting.


Now that you have those setup let’s take a look at some of the things you need to do before a release.



Every author should maintain a social media presence, even if it’s a minor one. This assists you in a variety of ways, but mostly it’s to attract attention to you. If you have no presence at all, you are fighting an uphill battle to get noticed by readers as well as publishers. And in this day and age agents and publishers look to see if you have a presence on social media channels.


So what do you do before your book comes out?


Simple. Interact with people. While you are writing the book, post about some of the pitfalls you’ve encountered. Join some groups that discuss promotion ideas. If you have other hobbies, join and interact with those as well. Go ahead and announce when you write “The End.” Grumble about edits and how you didn’t notice that HUGE plot hole the beta readers caught. Post photos of your pets or what you saw on your daily walk. Be a person, however you might define that.


When and if you get an acceptance, contract or representation OR decide to publish your work yourself, announce it (if you are allowed to, please read through your contract carefully!). And THANK the people who respond. Then you need to think about your game plan to help promote your book.


If you are self publishing your work, you, alone are responsible for promotion. If you have a publisher, they may or may not have a publicist to handle promotion. If by chance, your publisher has a publicist, talk with them to see what plans they have for your work and then …


Promote your work.


Do not depend on a publisher or publicist to promote you. They may put forth only a minimum effort. Sure, they might have connections that you don’t have and might get you spots for guest posts and interviews, but in the end, they are only going to do so much for so long. It’s up to you, to keep the ball rolling. And that means you need to have a game plan.


Your game plan for social media  should consist of things like content, when to promote, how often and where.



Content is the things that will attract people to your site. It can include things like updates, press releases, cover reveals and personal posts. But this doesn’t all have to come from YOU! You can gain some excellent content by appearing as a guest on someone else’s blog, appearing on a postcast or video and answering questions in an interview. By planning ahead and putting forth a little bit of effort, you can have some great content leading up to your book release. Contact book reviewers, friends, other authors and even family to see if they’d be willing to help out.


When to Promote

The next thing you need to do is decide how often to promote your work. If you are a few months out, you probably don’t want to post too often about your work but as release time gets closer, you will want to pick up the pace.


If your work is 2-3 months out, posting once or twice a week about it keeps things fresh in your reader’s minds. But don’t just post a “BUY ME NOW” plea. Mix it up with updates on revisions, publishing deadlines, and when you’ve seen the cover. Some important things you can post about include:

  • Receiving edits

  • Returning edits

  • First peek at the cover

  • Cover reveal

  • Announcing final publishing date

As your publication date nears, you’ll want to post more often, and include links especially if you have a pre-order going on. Hopefully once you reach the during phase, one to two weeks before release date, you’ll have content in the form of guest posts, interviews and spotlights lined up to attract even more interest.


How Often

If your social media feed is full of “BUY ME NOW” posts twenty-four hours a day, more likely you are doing things wrong. Depending on where you are in your promotion cycle, you will have crests and troughs in how often you promote your work, but it NEVER should fill up all of your feed. If you are a few months out, posting a few times a week is about all you need to do. That can be easily scheduled on your professional Facebook page or by using a social media manager.


As you move towards your release date, gradually increase your promotional posts. By two weeks out, you should be posting at least once a day about your upcoming release. But you still need to keep a balance of one promotional post to ever four regular posts. Do make sure you vary your message. Don’t annoy people by privately messaging them or tagging them in promotional posts unless they have something to do with the upcoming publication.



In social media there’s lots of places to promote your work. Do a search on Facebook for promotion and you’ll come up with a huge list of groups. Go ahead and take a peek at them and join them if you think your work will fit with the genre or theme of the group. Do read the rules and descriptions as to when it’s okay to post promotions. Many will ban you if you do not heed them.


You can also make good use of hastags (#) in your posts. This will help your entries show up on searches in many social media streams. You’d be surprised at how useful hastags can be.


Be sure to utilize your Professional Pages. Try to post new content there first then use your personal page to boost the signal.


You can even create character accounts on social media platforms such as Twitter or professional pages on Facebook. It is more work, but it works really great for some authors especially if they have a long running series.


If this seems like a lot of work, it can be but it can help you gain readers. And that’s what what promotion does. By working ahead of a release date, you’ve given readers a head’s up about upcoming releases, hopefully attracted new readers, and increased potential sales.


We’ll be discussing what to do during your release and after in upcoming posts so stay tuned!


Author Etiquette - There Are No Shortcuts in Publishing

by Jennifer 26. July 2017 15:01

Today we are going to talk about something the more experienced writers already know; however, there’s a lot of new authors out there who desperately need to hear this.


There’s no F’n shortcuts in publishing.

There’s no magic formula for writing a bestseller. No easy way to make it to the top of the list. There’s a lot of work, time and effort involved in creating GOOD stories.


And there are however a lot of people trying to scam you out of your hard-earned money.


Take for instance, a publisher that guarantees your book will be accepted and placed in bookstores across the nation, for the low price of a few thousand bucks.


Or the Fiverr “editor” who does a few simple find and replace of a few things, has it back to you in just a few hours, then tells you that your work is ready for publication.


Or the “How I Earned $40K On One Book” instruction manual that someone put up on Amazon. Sure you bought it for $100, but it’s filled with stuff you can find on the internet for free.


Or the “graphic designer” who charged $50 for a book cover, that either doesn’t look right now that you’ve inserted it into (insert self pub venue here) or you discover it’s an exact copy of someone else’s cover.


Or … You get the picture right?


But it isn’t just publishers, editors, and artists that scam people. There’s a lot of authors who run scams out there too.


Like the author who copies someone else’s book, does a few find and replace name swaps and some minor plot changes then tosses it up on (insert self pub venue.)


Or the ones who use click farms to increase their page reads.


Or the authors who fill the first few pages with a somewhat decent story then you discover what amounts to cats sitting on keyboards.


Or the authors who give presentations on how to do X (usually something to do with publishing), but it’s really just a 30 minute pitch to buy their book.


And so on and so forth.


News flash. Publishing is work, and if you are going to succeed, you need to accept there’s no fast way to get to the top.


There are a few authors who seem very successful from the very start. They get lots of professional sales seemingly right off the bat, but what you don’t know is they’ve been writing stories for nearly twenty years, or have studied creative writing for the past ten. Or that they’ve got a stack of rejections and false starts taller than a house. They just hadn’t been published in some of the higher ranking publications before.


A vast majority of the writers out there start at the very bottom with poor grammar, purple prose, and wandering verb tenses. They have cardboard characters and the stories they write are probably very similar to the first few that you’ve written. And they too probably thought that what they wrote was excellent, and worthy of publication. But if you ask any of them now, they’d probably cringe and tell you that those stories sucked. And they probably do.


Becoming an author is a process. It’s a lot of learning, research, self-reflection, doubt and, hopefully at some point or another, success. It’s not something that you can learn out of a book in just a few days. It’s also not something that’s going to make you loads of cash right off the bat. It’s a series of growth spurts—sometimes quite painful—that pushes you forward with each story, critique, professional edit, and class and helps make you someone that writes something other people would like to read.


And I admit, it’s scary and long and hard and complicated. Having your work torn apart by a better writer is heart-wrenching. Seeing the flaws in your grammar, characters, and plot structures can be disheartening. Knowing that you are probably going to have to completely rewrite a story that you love, because it stinks, can put out the creative fire in even the most hearty soul.


But your next piece will be better for all of that. The story itself stronger. The characters more relatable to your readers. There are things that even the newest writer out there can do to help make them more successful.


Learn the Rules of Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation.

This really should be a no brainer, but it is. Even if you did poorly in school, it doesn’t give you an excuse not to learn how to use words, how to spell them, and to use proper punctuation. Start with the simple stuff like basic noun-verb sentences and build up from there. Learn when to use commas, periods and exclamation points. Spell-check can be your friend, but it can also cause you to use the wrong word. Some great places to assist you are Purdue OWL, Tipsheet, and other sites.


Get a Thick Skin.

Publishing, especially at first, is round after round of rejection. It’s not personal when an editor turns down your story. It’s not personal when a beta reader or editor finds a dozen plot holes in your novel. It’s not personal when a reader only gets through the first few chapters before putting a book down, saying “It’s not for me.” Have a few tears if you really need to, but either resubmit that story to another market, or write something better. Don’t sit around moping because those rejections, critiques and reviews are there to help you become better.


Research - Get Used to It.

You may not want to spend hours or even weeks researching particular elements of your story or novel but for accuracy’s sake you had probably resign yourself to the fact that details are important. And if you are writing certain genres, those details can be very, very important. Editors will point out inconsistencies and so will readers. You really don’t want to be on the wrong end of readers picking apart your story because of either science or historical details that can easily be found out with a bit of research.


Not only that, but you have to research markets, editors, publishers and even contracts. Don’t ever take anyone at their word, even if it’s your best buddy. Remember that the only person who can protect you and your work IS you. Make sure that any publishers you consider submitting to are legit. Check the credentials of an editor that you hire. Short story markets open and close regularly so be sure to read the guidelines. If you want to take a class, be sure that lecturer is someone you want to learn from and has professional credits to their name.


Always Remember Yog’s Law.

Money should always flow to the writer (Yog’s Law.) Except for instances where you contract out work such as cover creation, editing and formatting (mostly for self publishing), publishers should always give the author money. If a publisher asks for money to cover printing, distribution and publicity costs, DO NOT SIGN WITH THEM. This is a common scam, even if they are offering the moon on a silver platter. Many an author has spent thousands of dollars on a book and received only minimal if any returns.


No One Owes You Anything.

You have to make your own way in the publishing world. Sure you might be besties with award-winning authors and editors, but it doesn’t mean you can use that as leverage. Unless said author personally urges you to submit to their publisher or agent, it’s a big faux-pas to use Big Author’s Name for favors. This includes getting other people to read your work, trying to elbow your way into projects, or getting people to grant you special favors. If you work hard and are polite, people will begin to notice you on their own for your own merits. This creates much stronger friendships which could lead to open doors later on.


I know this is a let down to newer authors, but it is the truth. Becoming an author takes time, effort and sometimes money (as in taking classes). It’s not something that happens overnight. For most authors it takes years.


So be patient, don’t take shortcuts, and learn all you can, because it will make you a much better writer in the end.


Author Etiquette - How to Take an Extended Break

by Jennifer 29. June 2017 07:28

Welcome back to Apocalypse Ink Products. It’s summer and you know what that means: VACATIONS! Time to take some time to relax and have some fun.


Yeah right.


If you are like many authors, you’ve figured out that the work on creating books and stories never ends. There’s the thinking up part of our creative endeavours. Then there’s the writing part. Followed by the editing and wanting to torch the whole thing phase. If you think you are finished you don’t know much about publishing. Next up is the submission phase and all of those nervous habits tend to come out and play. If you get accepted great! If not, then lather rinse repeat that submission phase until either you get accepted somewhere, decide to self-publish or trunk that puppy.


Oh and hey, if you do get accepted, awesome! But then you might have a few (or a hundred more edits) before your story or book is ready for reading. Except, unless you put on a publicist hat, no one’s going to know you have books out. And then here comes the mad rush to get interviews, guest posts and reviews along with pleas to purchase the book.


And that’s just if your work is published by a legitimate publishing company (large or small.) For those of you who self publish, you need to add in cover art, design, formatting and proofing.


Some of this happens quite slowly, at times over the course of a year or more. But other times, this is a fast paced bullet train that takes just a few months.


And it doesn’t even include book signings, online events, conventions and guest speaking engagements.


No wonder some authors get tired, sometimes feel as though they are burnt out, and get writer’s block. They never take time to rest. And that’s not good.


Even the most steadfast of authors realize they’ve got to take a break. Mostly because it’s for their own well being. Creative wells run dry. Exhaustion and it’s many complications can put you at risk. Sometimes you have to take a break because of outside matters.


Breaks can be short or long, depending on the circumstances. A short break is easier to deal with. A day, two or even a week, can help an author feel refreshed and ready to hit the word mines again.


But what happens when an extended break is necessary?


That’s where things get a little more complicated.  


There’s an unspoken belief that taking time off can have a devastating effect on their income. If they are not actively writing, editing, and promoting themselves, their name and books can fall in sales. And it’s kind of true. Newer authors and authors with indie presses often feel as though they are rolling a boulder up a hill in order to get their name “out there.” As they become more well known, the boulder seems to get smalleror maybe it’s just that they are getting stronger. But a break, especially a long one, can find them back at the bottom with an even heavier burden.


So what do you do if you find you need a long break, but still want to keep your name out there?


First, take a look at how long of a break you are going to take. A week? A month? Longer?


If you are able to plan how long you are taking a break, you can alert friends, family and fans that you will be either gone entirely from the internet or will have limited access for a time. Plan things to do that have nothing to do with writing, promoting, or editing. Go experience life outside the writing cave. For a lot of people, this can revitalize their creative well and give them a much better outlook on what they are doing.


Next, decided if you are going “cold turkey” on book related things or are you going to be working a little bit. Prioritize what HAS to be done against what you’d like to do.


Say you are on a deadline, and the novel you are writing is due in 6 weeks, but you feel yourself stretched too thin. Drop the social media, the interviews, the promotion and finish the book. DO NOTHING ELSE. On the other hand, if you don’t have something pressing. Dropping off the face of the earth (not really) for a couple of weeks or month can be very refreshing.


Third, see if anyone can take over some duties, automate your promotion, or hire someone to take a load off.


If you really need a break, but find you just can’t let go of some of the duties, figure out a way to do them until you get back. Give someone admin rights to your professional page so that updates can be posted regularly. Use a social media manager program to automate promotional posts. Even better, hire someone to take over some of the duties you must have done while you are gone.


No matter how long you decide to be gone, it’s a good thing to notify your close friends, family, and professional contacts such as your editor and your publisher, that you will be gone for a little bit. This way, if something important comes up, they will either know how to contact you or will be able to handle things until you get back. A quick note on your website or professional pages will alert fans that you are unable to respond but will get back when you can. But don’t put out personal information such as where you’ll be, or if you will be gone from home. A quick note saying you are deep in the writing cave and unable to respond until project x is complete is fine.


Taking a break is necessary for everyone. Don’t be fooled into thinking you are weak or irresponsible for wanting to just drop everything and walk away. Everyone feels like that on occasion. Realize that breaks are healthy, especially for creatives who tend to overload themselves with various activities easily.


Take care of yourselves out there. Have some fun. Then, when your vacation’s over, get back to work refreshed and revived.


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