Network! Don’t Compete!

Too many times I see authors competing against one another to the point where it is not healthy. The very first thing I learned on my publishing journey was that I need other authors to help me be successful. Other authors are certainly not my competition. In many ways, they are my bread and butter, as they are often the first to pick up and read my work, and they help me with feedback, advice and guidance on how to ensure my book reaches more readers.

Therefore, author-to-author, I encourage you to get to know a network of authors; respect them, learn from them and build a friendship with them.

I watch in surprise at times as authors play themselves against other authors, or write far too critical reviews for the public to read, or even worse, openly put down other author’s work. This is not a game; many authors are doing this for their living. We are not all perfect, and we will never like the same things in life. However, we should appreciate talent and passion. Like an artist, we have our taste in the style and genre of any piece of work. The same goes for writing. If we all enjoyed the same things, life would be pretty boring!

And why should we compete?

Think about it … there are millions of readers in the world. There are now different ways people can now access books: paperback, eBook, and audio books. So what makes us (as an author) think we can dominate the ‘entire’ market on our own?

Fact: we can’t! So don’t even try.

As an author, my publicity, word of mouth, readership, reviews and more have all come primarily from the author community and then it’s grown from there. Without that author community I would literally be a lone soldier trying to get my book out there into the wide world of readers. With the help of my author friends, I have expanded my readership, built a community of support and surprisingly, I’ve even made some friends.

What I’m saying here, is network. Network the hell out of your author networks, either through social media, book fairs and events, or any other available avenues. Introduce yourself, your book and your genres. Get to know the author behind the book.

Personally, what has been amazing on my own author journey, is that I have met a group of authors who are incredibly talented and write in genres I may not have picked up in those mainstream stores. Through these connections we support, promote and help each other on our journey to building our readership. Even more, I call these authors my friends. Some of them, I have never even met, but they are incredibly important now to my life, and I could not do this without them.

At the end of the day, it’s another person to talk to, albeit online or over social channels, but it is a connection that will help you on your journey as a published author. Sometimes, we need to admit we cannot do it all alone!

Have you entered the McGrath House Indie Book Awards? More information here.

Getting your Book Noticed!

What I have learned more than anything, is that the more credible your book becomes (via reviews and awards) the more likely it will spark the curiosity of your readers.

Reviews can be a little hit and miss. Firstly, you cannot force your readers to write a review after reading your book. Like most things, many people forget or will verbally acknowledge a good book, but your average reader will rarely sit down to write a one or two paragraph critique of your book. Most reviews come from professionals or even other authors, and trust me, sometimes it feels like you are pulling teeth to get a review written.

Another great way of getting visibility and credibility for your book, are book awards contests. Obviously, it counts on the quality of your book, but entering and winning an award can give your book a heightened accolade that will help get your book noticed.

The award contests below are just a few of the available opportunities for independent authors. Whilst there is an entry fee to submit your book nomination, these are certainly the contests that will create more hype around your book – if it is recognised as a winner!

Reader’s Favorite Awards – the deadline for the early bird entry is 1st April 2017!

Contestants for these awards range from new independent authors to New York Times best sellers. The awards have a range of prizes and an esteemed ceremony every year in Miami for its winners. They also have the attention from some publishing houses who have in effect picked up some of the winners to sign them to publishing contracts.

New Apple Literary Awards

Another great opportunity for recognition in excellence in independent publishing. The early bird entry deadline is 1st May 2017 with the final deadline 1st December 2017. Note, that the price increases so it’s best to get in early! The New Apple team will also provide a certificate and an award trophy (at your cost) and your book will be promoted for twelve months via their social media channels.

The Best Indie Book Awards

With only nine categories, and exclusive to only independent book authors, this is another great award contest to ensure you get the recognition you are seeking for your book. A trophy is awarded to the category winner, and your book is publicised across various social media channels – so in essence you get some free marketing with the accolade.

IPPY (Independent Publisher Book Awards)

Has been running for 21 years now and has a very strong reputation across the author and reader community. Entries are now closed (25 February) for 2017, but these awards are certainly one to put in your calendar reminders for entry in 2018.

For those authors who are a little more money conscious, or don’t have the funds to spare, there are some free awards contests available (many hosted by independent authors themselves) which are mostly reader nominated, but again anything that gets your book out there via different channels is certainly worth exploring!

Do Reviews Matter?

Once you publish your book, you suddenly open yourself up to the public, and that means the critics. I was always told that I needed to get reviews for my book, and of course, like any author, I hoped people would love my book, giving it five stars and glowing commentary.

However, is that truly the reality? Everyone is a critic, and human beings can be subjective. Therefore, what is a five star to one person might be a three star to another. I’ve learned not to set my standards so high to become disappointed with the four and three star reviews. In fact, what is more important, in my view, is the actual review itself.

I love to read the comments, how my book makes people feel, and what it perhaps meant to the reader. I also like to stay open to any constructive feedback, it helps me understand the psyche of my readers, and what I could learn for future publications.

However, when I say constructive I mean constructive. As an author, the reality is that there are people out there who can be brutal with their comments, and sometimes even hurtful. When you are in the public eye, this is sadly something that we open ourselves up to. What can we do about it? Nothing really!

When I say we can do nothing, that is exactly what we should do. Ignore it. Don’t respond with the same malice, and just move on. Look at any best seller on the market, and they have a wide range of reviews and commentary. Even the best of books have the worst of critics and the detractors. Stephen King, James Patterson, Patricia Cornwell are among some of the best authors, and they have their share of one and two star reviews.

As an author, I would suggest that you listen to the majority of your reviewers to truly understand the quality of your work. Look at the patterns around the reviews, and specifically any comments that may be arising more than once. Unless you are consistently getting lower ratings, or the negative comments are forming a pattern, it is just part of the game, and you should not overthink it. Where you are getting a pattern of feedback, you have a choice too. You can do something about it – fix it in your current publication or in future works, or again just accept and ignore it. Either way, it means someone is reading your book, and it may spark the curiosity of more readers.

Reviews are important, but unless your book is averaging one or two stars, they are not the only thing that will sell your book. You sell your book! You are responsible for getting your book in front of the right readers, and when you do, you should expect and welcome their feedback. If you can’t handle the heat from your readers, then sadly this game may not be for you.

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Read My Mind

I’ve been a published author now for almost two years, yet I still have questions about being an author, and sometimes it is difficult to know where to turn to get the ‘right’ information.

The one true source of information that helps me is my network of other authors, a real community of friends and support who have been a wonderful source of information and advice, as well as my sanity at times when I needed a good laugh.

What is even better is that this community of authors have now embarked on a journey to share their knowledge, insights and experiences through a series of articles in a brand new FREE magazine called READ MY MIND.

Lily Amis (NasSima Design) is the instigator, imaginator and producer of this magazine, and as an author I’m honoured to be a part of this community to be featured in the very first issue, which will be released in April!

Discover new books, get the latest information on publishing, as well as articles on lifestyle, humour, travel and more. The magazine will offer competitions and other great highlights, so it’s certainly a collaboration that shouldn’t be missed.

To subscribe to the magazine, enter your details here, and be a part of this great journey with us!

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