Greetings, Packmates! Each month our ezine, Around the Studio*, has a specific theme. In March our topic was decluttering. In April, it was silence. In May, the topic is action.
Each time we choose a topic I’m always astonished how that topic affects our daily lives here in the Studio. After going through a wicked writing jag from the end of October to the end of February (three books worth of first draft copy on the new series Tau’s Pride) we were stuck for starting book four and had to do some serious decluttering.
In April, we embraced silence. The genius is in the pause. With all the clutter cleared away, we had space to breathe and listen.
While the silence brought clarity to Tau’s Pride, it also brought more ideas to light and I ended up with a solo novel project now in the works as well (WIP: Horse Out of Water). May’s energy also kicked into gear past actions, many of which we started years ago.
The biggest “woo-hoo” moment is one many indie authors dream of.
Can I get a drum roll, please?
The Saga is on the shelf in Barnes & Noble here in Henderson, Nevada. Yup, look close at that picture above. We’re right there under Robert Jordan.
It’s funny, after the excitement wore off sometime around 3am this morning, it sunk in what a big accomplishment that is. Many authors jump through hoops of fire and would give their right arm to have their books on the B&N shelf.
I’m happy to report there was no fire or loss of limbs involved.
How did we do it?
- Tenacity: Just because you get a “No.” the first time around doesn’t mean you stop trying. When Loyalties first came out five years ago I pounded the pavement and went to every B&N in the valley. This was during the economic plunge and bookstores were folding right and left. Not many managers were willing to add indie books to their shelves. And with the franchises, corporate policy varies from store to store. This didn’t stop me from asking again last month when a friend of mine, George McLendon, held a signing at my favorite B&N for his book Papa’s Gift. He put me in touch with Debby Federico and I called her that Monday. Debby loves local authors and she was happy to offer me an author’s event in June (more on that below).
- Professionalism: I can’t stress this enough. Professionalism isn’t just about how you look, it’s how you present your business and your product. If you get one take-away from this article it’s this: Your book is a BUSINESS. Your book is a product. Treat it like one. You’ve poured your heart and soul into the story, but don’t stop there. You know what really got us on the shelf? Our covers. No matter where we go, our book covers grab attention. They’ve been doing their job since day one when our sales rep at Lightning Source said Loyalties was one of the best covers she’d seen come across her desk. Debby’s reaction was no different. She loved them. She was interested enough to order the whole Saga to see what they looked like, and they were so well done, she had to put them on the shelf. I asked her if she did this for all the indie authors who hold events there and as I suspected, we were the exception. This is what good cover design does for YOU. This is where your investment gets you. Even if you believe you can’t afford it, explore that option anyway. Get your book and your website professionally done.
- Take Action: This is one of the hardest steps for some authors who erroneously believe, or have convinced themselves, they’re introverts. I believed this about myself for the longest time. I stayed hidden behind the curtain, never stepped out from the comfy-zone. I didn’t want to be “pushy” or “obnoxious”. Didn’t believe in tooting my own horn. Well, you know what that gets you? Nothing. Zip. Zero. Nada. No one is going to come knocking on your door offering you opportunity on a silver platter. Like I said to one of the authors attending the Henderson Writers’ Group Las Vegas Writers’ Conference this past weekend, “You don’t wait for opportunity to knock. Opportunity isn’t going to come wandering up to your door like Ed McMahon with a big fat check for you. You have to go to Opportunity’s neighborhood and start knocking on doors.”
- Be Prepared: While we’re on the subject of the conference, a number of authors who stopped by my table said they were waiting to do their websites and promoting their new book because the book wasn’t done yet. I told them, and I’ll tell you, the marketing starts the moment you start your book. Don’t wait until you’ve got your book up on Amazon. Start telling the world about your latest project the moment you start writing that first draft. This does two things: one, you begin growing your platform. Two, you’re making yourself accountable to your audience. Does that sound scary? You bet’cha. Let go of that fear of failure, stop asking yourself “what if I don’t finish?” I’ll admit, I get scared too and have those thoughts from time to time. Everyone does. I think, is this going to be another thing I start and don’t finish? Then I set that aside and write without fear. It doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s what rewrites and critique groups are for. No one starts out perfect, not even the big name authors. With your platform in place and growing with you, you’ll be prepared for launch day and setting yourself up for success.
- Be A Shark: One quote I heard at the conference was regarding plot, “Your plot is a shark, it has to keep moving to live.” This applies to everything, not just plot. Keep moving forward, keep swimming, even when the tide fights you and pushes you back. Just keep swimming (thank you, Dori). The moment you stop is the moment complacency, doubt and fear creep in. Now, that’s not to say you have to keep going so much you crash and burn. As we learned during our month of Silence, there’s movement in stillness. You’re listening, you’re active while you re-charge.
Are you an Action Hero? When has stepping up and stepping out brought you the biggest reward? Let us know in the comments.
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