Posts tagged ‘target audience’

July 30, 2014

Marketing From a Village

Hinterstein Germany Village Buildings Mountains (from pixabay.com)

This past month the local writer’s group I’m a member of held its own book-fair at one of the local parks.

For the first hour, I went, mingled with my fellow writers and watched the band and food vendors set up for the weekly Fridays on Vine concert. Everyone seemed excited, hopeful that the concert and the sign welcoming the public to come meet local authors would bring a stream of locals through the pavilion.

No one said it aloud, but we all watched people gathering on the grass and at the picnic tables as if we might know some of them. As if they might see us, come running in (with their friends, of course) and buy books.

Only a handful of visitors trickled through while I was there, and I don’t think more than a few books got sold, but I still consider the night a success.

Here’s why:

As a united entity, we authors vivaciously reached out to the public.

To my knowledge, this is the first time our little group has ever done this.

It takes guts to welcome new people to come see what we’re up to. It takes courage to put on a professional image, especially when, for most of us, our fledgling works have been self-published and all the marketing efforts are up to us.

For some of us, it takes everything we have to overcome Imposter Syndrome enough that our neighbors, relatives and other people we meet in settings like this will take us seriously. We hope they will at least notice that we take ourselves seriously. (That in itself is a great leap forward.)

I overheard one author say to another, “I don’t know. Sometimes I think we’re all just buying books from each other.”

That may be true. I came home with stacks of bookmarks and two books from my fellow authors, but here’s the deal:

To succeed, self-published authors and traditionally-published authors with little or no marketing budget must be united.

We need to sell the works of other authors as well as our own writings. We need to pass out those bookmarks to every potential reader we meet.

In a world where Talkers and Sneezers make ideas like great books go viral, we need to form tweet teams and street teams that will actually pound the pavement occasionally.

We need a village, and we need to sell to the villages we live in.

That means creating our own wave of enthusiasm, relying on each other to help spread the word, and forming our own movement that can eventually pick up momentum in our own towns and cities and spread to the larger world.

We create online villages by blogging, commenting on each other’s blogs, participating in blog hopping and blog tours, attending virtual book launches and creating author pages on Amazon and Facebook. These are helpful (and so fun they’re sometimes addicting). Wherever we go, we try to seek out our target audiences, hoping they’ll become part of our online villages.

I wonder, though, if they’ll ever really replace people we can get to know.

It takes a lot more courage to reach out to people you can see and touch than it does to reach out to people you might never meet in person. This is one reason why I admire writers who sell their books at trade fairs and arrange for book signings in libraries and bookstores.

Perhaps this is also why I value my writer’s group so much. This last month, at least, these other authors were my village. Even though I didn’t bring any bookmarks to pass out or books to sell, I felt their combined energy swelling up and spilling over into the concert at the park. Since then, two books from one local author have made the bestsellers list on Amazon.

I can’t help but see a connection here.

Her village is thriving.

 

 

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July 18, 2013

Thoughts on Million Dollar Outlines, by Dave Farland

The best marketing technique is still great writing.

The best marketing technique is still great writing.

Someone close to me recently encouraged me to read Million Dollar Outlines, by Dave Farland. I took the challenge, and I found some valuable ideas I feel like sharing.

In the beginning of the book, Farland addresses the difference between discovery writers, who don’t plot things out before they write, and writers who like to work from an organized outline.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and I think I’m a hybrid. I really, really love discovery writing because it’s completely relaxing for me. On the other hand, plotting a book and then writing toward that plot feels like a game to me. It’s not as relaxing, but it’s very rewarding when I reach a goal I’ve set for myself.

I was intrigued by Dave Farland’s thoughts on how reading is an emotional exercise that allows readers to experience stress and de-stress in enjoyable ways.  According to Farland,  a writer’s job is to guide readers through balanced stress exercises, and de-stressing has to be done in the most powerful way possible. He wrote this:

My characters need to be more than relieved, they need to be almost giddy. Most of the time, I need to release my reader into a setting that is serene and at rest.

Also, because not every reader enjoys the same kind of stressful experiences, one story isn’t going to appeal to all audiences.

Here are some other helpful tips I picked up in this book:

  • Successful stories should have the protagonist trying to solve a particular problem at least three times.
  • Successful stories should be able to provide reasons why this particular plot is important, and stakes can be upped to help provide the why.
  • Verisimilitude=the sense that the story is really happening. I never knew this word before, but I like it. I also love the idea of creating verisimilitude in my stories.
  • If you want to sell books, it’s important to do your own market research. Find or make a list of books that sell well to the audience you’d like to target most, and find out what these books have in common. Take a look at everything from settings to the type of conflicts the protagonists face, and see what you come up with. Then incorporate those common threads into your own work. (In this book, Farland analyzes the movie industry, the television industry and walks readers through how to analyze a list of bestselling books. I found this very worth my time.)
  • Writing that invokes strong emotions tends to sell well.
  • Setting is extremely important–Farland wrote that an author’s success depends at least partly on his or her ability to transport readers to another time or place.
  • All characters, good or bad, should grow or change during the course of the story.
  • All characters are more powerful if parts of their personality or life ideals conflict another part. Farland called this duality.
  • Working with a large cast gives writers the opportunity to engage a wider audience, but it can be overwhelming. Farland gives some tips for managing a large cast.

In the second and third sections of the book, Farland gives several plotting tools and ideas to think about that  can deepen any story. Toward the end of this book, Farland walked through an actual outlining process that pulled the entire book together. I especially appreciated his advice on merging character conflicts onto a major plot chart, adjusting where the action is and then writing a sequential outline based on the major plot chart.

Overall, this is one of the best books on writing itself that I’ve read in a long, long time. While it’s not a marketing book, I believe it’s a great resource for anyone who wants to write for money.

June 12, 2013

Indie Recon marketing thing is going on this week, and other things

I keep adding free books to my Kindle. :)

I keep adding free books to my Kindle. 🙂

It’s Marketing Mania Week over at Indie Recon.

Yesterday’s post by CJ Lyons was all about branding, which is something I keep thinking I need to think more about. The truth is,  I love variety and don’t like the thought of getting stuck writing just one genre. This post made me feel like I could actually create a brand for myself and still maintain my writing freedom. It was heartening.

There’s a great post today on marketing in general (and to young adult target audiences in particular). Wednesday will cover Ten Lethal Marketing Mistakes, Thursday will focus on marketing advice from bestselling Indie authors, and Friday there will be a secret giveaway. Fun for everyone!

Other things on my mind:

  • The more I read, the more I want to write. I see a plot or a style I like, and I think “I have to try this out sometime and see if I can do something like it.” The same thing happens when I watch a good movie (although I want to write stories, not make movies). I want to do it my own way, of course, but the draw is there with every good book I pick up. Does anyone else experience this? Is this what inspires people to write fan fiction?
  • I’ve decided I really, really love ebook Habits and Free Book Dude. I keep adding stories to my Kindle, which I’ll read someday when life slows down.  These sites list books that can be downloaded for free. Browsing through their lists has become part of my daily e-mail ritual.
  • The beans are up! And some of the kale I planted earlier this spring is ready to harvest. Hurrah for fresh kale at lunch! 🙂
May 12, 2013

Ten wonderful quotations about success

DCF 1.0

Yesterday I relaxed with SUCCEED—Inspirational and Motivating Quotations About Success, compiled by Peter Begley. It was one of those experiences that made me feel like I was adrift on a floating chair in the middle of a beautiful lake. My soul went Ahhhh.

And so I’m sharing the Ahhh—someness of it here, with my top ten favorite quotes from this book (not necessarily in any order):

  1. It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.~Walt Disney
  2. I criticize by creation–not by finding fault.~Cicero
  3. Expect problems and eat them for breakfast.~Alfred A. Montepert
  4. Remember that what you have now was once among the things you only hoped for.~Epicurus
  5. Wise men make more opportunities than they find.~Francis Bacon
  6. Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.~Thomas A. Edison
  7. First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.~Mahatma Gandhi
  8. Don’t worry about people stealing your ideas. If your ideas are any good, you’ll have to ram them down people’s throats.~Howard Aiken
  9. Find a job you like and you will add five days to every week.~H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
  10. A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not the desire to beat others.~Ayn Rand

And in light of my last post, this one is just for me, I think:

I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.~Bill Cosby

That’s why, as a writer, I have to think about my target audience; as a marketer, I have to think about branding; and as an individual, I have to strive for a balanced life.

May 8, 2013

Marketing and The Night Ones Legacy

I love my Amazon sales page. :)

I love my Amazon sales page. 🙂

Nearly two weeks ago now, I promised to post results from my most recent marketing lab. This time, it was a two-day KDP Select promotion for The Night Ones Legacy celebrating its two-year anniversary. Here’s what happened:

I requested free advertising on about 15 sites and received it on about five of them. I also paid for advertising ($20 for a package that included tweets) on eReader Perks.

I really didn’t know what to expect, since the book has been out now for two years and doesn’t seem to fit into any category very well. Under the circumstances, I was pleasantly surprised when The Night Ones Legacy reached #764 free in the Kindle store. My best stats included #25 in Kindle eBooks>Literature & Fiction>Action and Adventure and #61 in Kindle eBooks>Teens. (It’s nothing spectacular like what author Charles Yallowitz has experienced—see his successes here and in other spots on his blog—but I was pleased, anyway.)

I wondered whether the promotion would spark new reviews for it on Amazon, but I haven’t seen any yet.  The Night Ones Legacy currently sits at #553,140 in the paid Kindle store.

That’s certainly not a high number, but before I began blogging again around October 2012, sales numbers for The Night Ones Legacy hovered consistently just above #881,000. To that point, I hadn’t really done anything to promote it other than one quick banner advertisement when it was first published two years ago.

Since then, it’s been the focus of a contest, several blog posts, this KDP Select experiment and a rather quiet give-away (If people contacted me and requested a copy, I gifted them a free Kindle version—I’ve given away about 25 books this way over the past six months). Oh, and I did finally start tweeting about it a month or so ago, but I haven’t yet built a habit out of Twitter, so the little bursts there have been inconsistent.

What this means to me: my marketing experiments are paying off both in terms of what I’m learning and in my sales rank, but they’re paying off very, very slowly. This is a great exercise in detaching my emotions from the outcome and just enjoying the journey, and I can say, it really is a wonderful ride.

I’ve given a lot of thought to this book while I’ve been working on its sequel. For the following reasons, I think it may always be difficult to sell this series of books:

  • I cannot seem to find a category where it really fits. In the first book, the protagonist is too young to fit with young adult books, but the story is too…old?…to qualify as a middle-grade read.
  • Although it’s high fantasy and there is plenty of adventure in the book, it focuses more on Lily’s character development than anything as she is forced to participate in the events unfolding around her. One writing friend has told me this is kind of a literary device.  I’m sure every fantasy writer wants to be like Tolkien to some extent, but I have to wonder if contemporary high fantasy can be marketed as literary, as well.
  • At less than 400 pages for the first book and with only three books planned in the series, can it be marketed as epic fantasy? I’ve had mixed reports on that one, although I lean toward the ‘no’ answer.
  • Another problem: As I’ve been studying how to raise boys (yes, I really do read about that!), I’ve learned that girls often enjoy books with boy protagonists but that boys hardly ever enjoy books with girl protagonists. If what I’ve read is true, that limits my target audience even more than the age group thing does.

It’s definitely an experiment in the elements of writing. I plan to finish the entire series, mostly because I enjoy writing it. After that—and maybe during that, as well—I intend to branch out and try different things. I really, really love variety.

I know that goes contrary to the whole idea of branding. I’m not yet sure how I’ll address that. I’ll have to figure it out if I ever get serious about selling fiction books. For now I’m just learning and having fun. 😀

April 22, 2013

Gabe Berman’s advice: Write so people will read your work

by Gabe Berman

by Gabe Berman

I promised a review of Gabe Berman’s new book, The Complete Bullshit-Free and Totally Tested Writing guide: How to Make Publishers, Agents, Editors and Readers Fall In Love With Your work. Here it is, just in time for another fun writing-filled workweek!

For me, the most valuable piece of information was to remember the reader, to help the reader to find ways to care about your characters and the story you’re trying to tell. He wrote:

Life is short. If you’re expecting us to trade our precious time for an opportunity to read your words, it better be an even swap. But if you really care what people think, and you should if you want to be published, you’ll want us to feel like we made out like bandits in the deal. You’ll want to make us feel that we couldn’t imagine spending our time in any other way.

And later:

EVERY WORD WE WRITE AND EVERY SPACE BETWEEN THOSE WORDS MUST MEAN SOMETHING TO THE READER!

One of the first points Berman made was writers should get used to the idea that people don’t give a four-lettered word about them.

That motif is repeated several times throughout the book–and while it seemed abrasive for a moment, the more I thought about it, the more I understood what he meant. This is what I got out of that particular idea:

  • Don’t depend on anyone to love your work. You might love it, and you might want to share it, but people are busy. Most of them will always be too busy to read your work, even if they love you.
  • Also, they may not be able to believe that someone they know is such a genuinely fantastic writer destined for fame and glory. It just might not fit with their world view.
  • Even when people you care about do take the time to give your work a cursory read, don’t take their praise (or their criticism) too seriously. They’re just as wrapped up in their own work and worries as you are in yours, and your work will not be as important to them as it is to you.
  • Once you understand that, you become free from the self-consciousness that holds you back. At that point, you’re able to start writing what other people can’t help reading. Either that, or you become more comfortable writing for yourself alone. Either way, you’ll be writing more authentically, and you’ll probably be much happier with where you’re writing is headed.

Of course, my understanding is all wrapped up in my own frame of reference (partially proving Berman’s point here). It reminded me of a time when I had a sit-down talk with an agent.

“Never show your manuscript to your mother or your husband,” she said. “Never show it to anyone in your family.”

I’ve broken that rule every time…and I suspect I’ll keep breaking that rule…but I think I get the idea.

Thanks to Berman for saying (writing) it so clearly.

In chapter four, Berman addresses the idea of writing authentically:

Write from the place in your gut where love dwells.

The idea here is that when you right authentically, readers will pick up on this and connect with you, with your characters and story and they won’t be able to put it down.

There are lots of other great tips in this book–how long paragraphs should be, what kinds of styles sound preachy or pretentious, etc. If you’re a writer, it’s definitely a book worth reading.

As of this posting, it’s listed on Amazon (Kindle version) for $0.99.

Folks who are in love with life (or who want to be) should check out Berman’s other book, Live Like a Fruit Flywhich was endorsed by Deepak Chopra.

He’s already working on a sequel, Revenge of the Fruit Fly.  Can’t wait to read it. The name itself just pulls me right in.

Thanks again, Gabe Berman! (Check out his blog here.)

April 11, 2013

Make my book contagious, please

Reading Contagious: Why Things Catch On on my Kindle!

Reading Contagious: Why Things Catch On on my Kindle!

It’s been a while since I’ve had a chance to review a marketing book on my blog. Today I’m pleased to announce I have a new marketing #amreading: Contagious: Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger.

I suppose most people have heard of concepts like the idea virus. I first got interested in this a few years ago, when a brother-in-law was talking about finding ways to market his social networking site. This was close to the first time I had ever truly thought about how important word-of-mouth marketing is. Now that I’m gearing up to really market my books, it seems like a pretty important thing to study.

As of this afternoon, I’m only eight percent through Berger’s Contagious, and I’ve already learned some interesting things. Berger wrote this:

Word of mouth is the primary factor behind 20 percent to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions.

He also wrote that word of mouth buzz is both more persuasive and targeted than other means of advertising, but only seven percent of word of mouth marketing happens online. I was surprised by that.

My immediate thought was online buzz might still be significant, even at only seven percent. My second thought is that people have to learn about your product or book before they can talk about it, and the internet seems like a natural tool to use to introduce it to people. At the very least, it’s an inexpensive option to try.

A third tidbit from Berger:

Harnessing the power of word of mouth, online or offline, requires understanding why people talk and why some things gt talked about and shared more than others. The psychology of sharing. The science of social transmission.

In the last part of this chapter, Berger introduced six reasons people talk about something. I expect the rest of this book will delve into them in more detail, but here’s Berger’s quick list, Six Principles of Contagiousness:

  • Social currency: will talking about your book or product increase the social status of the person doing the talking?
  • Triggers: how often does your book or product come to mind because of something in the environment of someone who might talk?
  • Emotion: does your book or product trigger emotion?
  • Public: how easy is it to find our books, our products, our ideas?
  • Practical value: if it helps someone in some way, it has value that people will want to pass on to their friends
  • Stories: I’m not sure I understand this part yet, but it seems geared toward both entertaining and educating people about a certain message all at the same time…probably the ‘buy my book’ message, for most of us.

I’ll have to post more about this in greater detail when I’ve finished the book. For now, I can say it’s piqued my interest, and I’m gearing up for some more marketing experiments because of it.

Meanwhile, if you’re thinking about marketing a book, check out author Charles Yallowitz’s book advertising sites listed on his blog. There are some great ideas there.

March 25, 2013

The Night Ones Legacy gets a new look

New book cover!

New book cover!

This is an exciting day for me: The Night Ones Legacy has a new cover! (Well, as I write this, it’s been uploaded to KDP but it’s still under review.)

The need for a new book cover grew out of feedback I got from some terrific reviews and the contest I hosted earlier this year. The story itself was earning five-star reviews, but the cover was detracting from the content inside.

There were about six concepts to choose from, and I was able to narrow it down to four fairly quickly. From there, I asked for opinions from a diverse handful of people. The concept above was the one liked most by almost everyone I asked.

Most importantly, the daughter I wrote the story for likes this one the best.

I also made a few changes to the text. There were a few grammatical errors to be addressed (a ‘to’ that should have been a ‘too,’ etc.). There still may be a few mistakes, but I’m not anticipating any other changes to the book.

I’m slightly apprehensive as to how the updates will go for Kindle owners who already have the book. I’ve never had problems with book updates before, but I’ve never been on this end of it before, either.

One other thing that I learned from the contest: it seems my writing is geared more toward a young adult audience, even though I tried to make this first book a middle-grade read. The sequels will most definitely be written for a young adult target audience.

I’m ready to focus on the sequel, which I’m tentatively hoping to publish at the end of April. We’ll see how that goes! My chapter-by-chapter beta readers are already hard at work as I write, and I have a list of full-book beta readers in place. I’m looking forward to the feedback.

I was so shy when I wrote The Night Ones Legacy that I really didn’t ask for any help. After fourteen drafts, there were still quite a few changes that needed to be made. Hopefully most of them are addressed now. If nothing else, writing and publishing this book has been a great education. I really love that part of my life.

Just for comparison, here’s the first book cover one more time:

book cover possibility three point seven five

March 1, 2013

The winner of the $25 Amazon gift card is…

Prizes for The Night ones Legacy contest

Prizes for The Night ones Legacy contest

The contest for feedback for The Night Ones Legacy has come to a close. I’m a little bit sad, because this was a truly fun learning project. I’m happy, too, because it means I can move on to other fun experiments.

The winner of the $25 Amazon gift card is A., a thirteen year old girl that has actually read my book more than once. Because she’s a minor, I can’t comfortably post her full name here.

Here’s some of the feedback I got from A.:

I really admired how beautifully written it was. The way the characters acted and responded to each other was amazing! I loved how much I was able to see Lily grow in the book. In a way I felt I was there with her during her trials because I got scared and nervous some too. The book was so full of mystery and adventure that I hardly ever put it down! I read the whole thing in a day and a half. I love how realistic the characters were.

The only thing that could make the book better is a sequel where we, the readers, find out more secrets than the first book has revealed. This book could not have been any more well written.

I would recommend this book to anybody who is interested in the Narnia books, The books of Bayren series( Goose Girl, Enna Burning, River Secrets, and Forest Born), The 100 cupoards series, Fablehaven readers, Percy Jackson readers too (maybe), kids my age, and basically anybody who is in to magic, wonder, mystery, and action.

Announcing other prizes, hinted at in this quick contest update a few weeks ago:

  • The only surprise prize I actually really announced was for feedback on the book cover. The best feedback I got on the cover was from Esther W. She won a $10 Amazon gift card.
  • For the first entry, a $10 Amazon gift card goes to Wayne Beck. 
  • For the first Amazon review, a $10 Amazon gift card goes to Charles Yallowitz.

These other prizes were not part of the original contest, but I was having so much fun, how could I help it?

And now, what I learned from running this contest:

  1. If you’re writing for middle-grade readers, holding an online contest may not be the best way to reach them. I was lucky. I got a few entries from young teenagers and some from mothers of middle grade readers, but overall, this isn’t a demographic group that’s buying books online very often. I think a localized, direct approach–maybe contacting local bookstores, book fairs, libraries and schools and having more paperback books available would have made a difference in how well I was able to hit my target market. I don’t think writers targeting markets for older readers would necessarily have this problem.
  2. Contest interest seemed to fluctuate quite a bit with the amount of promotion I gave it. I got spikes in contest interest when I posted contest updates, and smaller spikes the first few times I twittered about it. My biggest spike came when someone close to me posted about it on Facebook, but the interest from that was fairly short-lived. I guess what I’m saying here is that promoting contests are probably just about as time consuming as actually promoting the books would be. 
  3. The contest did result in more book sales. Not as many as I’d hoped, but enough that I got a small royalty payment from Amazon. THAT was really fun.
  4. One of the areas that I thought might need a lot of help was characterization. Surprisingly, readers seemed to feel otherwise. I got quite a bit of positive feedback about how the main character, Lily, grew and matured through the trials she faced. I did get some feedback indicating more interaction with children her own age would have improved the entire story, and I tend to agree with that.
  5. An area I had hardly considered before promoting this book was its cover. I received quite a bit of interesting feedback about the cover–mainly, that no one would have picked the book up based on the cover photo. This book needs a cover makeover! The more I read about book marketing, the more I realize how important this is.

Where I’m going from here:

  • Due to a handful of repeated requests from young readers, a sequel to The Night Ones Legacy is underway. I hope to have it out to beta readers within the next few months. If you’re interested in being a beta reader, please let me know–the more, the merrier!
  • Part of the purpose for this contest was to determine whether to leave The Night Ones Legacy on Amazon or to take it down. My thoughts on the matter now: I’ll finish the sequel, then go back to The Night Ones Legacy, rework it and re-release it later. I may keep the current edition of The Night Ones Legacy available as a vintage edition at that point, but I haven’t decided for sure. Any thoughts? I’d love to hear perspectives from readers and other authors.

 

December 13, 2012

Why writers network with each other

MadnessMelody! We network.

MadnessMelody! We network.

Early last summer I discovered there was a writer’s conference nearby. It was too late for me to make arrangements to attend the entire conference, but I did sign up for a consultant with an agent.

Not that I had anything ready to publish. Far from it. My great question was this: based on my style of writing, who should my target audience be?

“Definitely young adult,” the agent I spoke with said, perhaps a bit too emphatically.

I was half happy to hear this (since most of the fiction I’ve actually tried to write has been for my teenage daughters) and half dismayed. In spite of wanting to tackle tough issues, to write parables that will mean something to someone in some distant time, I think I have a tendency to be unrealistically flamboyant with my creativity and too simple in the way I word things.

In my mind, my first fiction ideas are like plain yogurt. Each story might have a decent base, but I’d never eat plain yogurt without adding something sweet. I tend to add too many ideas too soon. It becomes complicated. Imagine dumping half a bottle of chocolate syrup and a bag of M&Ms into a yogurt cup—when I read my fiction later, that’s what it tastes like in my mind. No one can stomach that for very long.

If I could temper my fiction, balance it with thoughtful prose and self-control, it might stand a chance of becoming elegant—something more like yogurt with strawberries mixed in. Something healthy.

That’s what I strive for, but it’s not something I do well on my own. This is probably why writers are told to network with each other, to learn from each other and to teach each other. We who read and write have to be valuable to each other in order to succeed.

This is difficult for me. It’s easy to appreciate the work of other writers, but I know my sticky-sweetness. I have trouble sharing that with others even when I know they can help improve my writing. There’s this wall of shame I have to climb over or break through every time.

It might not look that way from the outside. In April 2011, I self-published The Night Ones Legacy, a fiction story I wrote for one of my daughters for the previous Christmas. There have been times since then when I’ve berated myself because the editing wasn’t finished, because I had holes in my plot, because my character development was lacking—and I self-consciously wonder what others would think of me if they knew what I had done. Was it shameful to self-publish a book of fiction? Did I do something wrong?

My motivations, at the time, were only partly to become published. Deep down, I had a drive to learn about HOW to publish something. I thought self-publishing would be my only chance for a long time.

That still may be the case. I don’t know. I believe the next time around, I’ll probably seek an agent or a publisher. The more I learn, the more I see that this would be a different kind of education altogether. I hope I have the chance to learn that lesson.

Meanwhile, I push forward with the lessons already in front of me. Learning about the writing craft is painfully, deeply imperative for my happiness. I’m beginning to understand non-fiction. Fiction is harder. Acquainting me with the art of loving my own work is more challenging still.

I have made some attempts. I gave a few copies of The Night Ones Legacy to friends in North Dakota. I tried internet advertising, once.

Mostly, I began to seek out other writers to talk with—a single mother of eight who writes during her breaks at work, a college girl who makes incredible lemon pies, some enthusiastic in-laws with a thousand interesting book ideas—and then I went to the agent consultation, and then I joined a writer’s group. Talking about my writing is getting easier.

It’s one step closer to learning a new set of lessons. More than that, talking about the art of writing (even if I must share my own work) with others who write is completely enjoyable. Networking is becoming its own reward.

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