(Apr 5, 2013) Friday Writing Essentials: Self-Publishing and Self-Presentation

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on April 4, 2013 0 Comments

http://media-files.gather.com/images/d966/d596/d747/d224/d96/f3/full.jpgI can’t even begin to update on everything that happens between my prompts… We’ve made offers on all sorts of houses, have dropped and raised the offers on places, and the only house that is DESPERATE to have us buy needs a LOT of work. Sigh. I really like the house, but it smells like urine and cigarette smoke, the walls have bad wear and tear, the baseboards will all need to be replaced, the tile re-grouted (to remove the smells and stains), the carpet replaced, the exterior repainted, the roof re-shingled… Not to mention the yard. And there are a ton of spiders in the basement bathtub. How on EARTH did they even get into the tub? It looks like they crawled up through the tub drain. Is that even possible??!? :-)


I know the prompts that deal with self-publishing aren’t ones a lot of people will be able to respond to, but considering the amount of messages I’ve received and the comments here and there, I know the information we’re going over has been valuable. So I’m going to continue using self-publishing as prompts for a bit longer. Deal with it. :-)

A few things about self-publishing before we go into today’s prompt:

Self-publishing is NOT a get-rich-quick scheme. I’ve had several people show they believe it is. And I know there are a lot of authors who decide to self-publish after seeing the success of people such as Amanda Hocking, EL James, Joe Konrath, etc. But it requires a lot of hard, honest work, smarts, time, and diligence to make things function.

Something I wish someone had told me up front: for a no-name, brand-new author, it can take anywhere from two to four years to become successful. Think of it like you’re starting a business: it won’t reach magic status overnight (though, it does for one in a million). Give yourself at least two years to really start having actual downloads and success (measured by you, not anyone else). So long as you’re writing and publishing quality material, it’ll happen.

The legal definition of “publish”:

◦           To issue (printed or otherwise) for sale or distribution to the public (dictionary.com)

◦           The activity of making information available to the general public (wikipedia)

So, if someone tells you you’re not published unless a traditional publisher has picked you up, they’re “legally” wrong. :-)

Lastly, only you can determine whether you’ve become successful or not. Your goals will differ from someone else’s. Sure, you probably want to become a millionaire, but for many authors, even just a hundredaire makes them feel successful. And no, that’s not pathetic.

On to today’s prompt!

We’re talking about how to present yourself online (and in person).

Some don’ts:

  • Don’t view yourself as a sales person. Sales turn people off.
  • Don’t advertise and promote to other authors. They’re in your circle, they’ll most likely already know what’s going on in your life, and they’re in the same position as you: looking for readers.
  • Don’t constantly be looking for new readers. :-) Be looking for genuine friendships. If your books come up, that’s fine, but people are more likely to support someone they care about.
  • Don’t be negative! Your online presence hugely impacts how people feel and what they think about you. Read my blog post here for more info.
  • Don’t spam people. I read somewhere that a good method to follow is 20% – 80%. Talk about you, your family, pets, funny and/or informative things, etc., 80% of the time, and update on books, writing, 20% of the time.
  • Don’t tell the person everything about your book.

A sad story: last year I did a signing with fifteen other authors. One of them broke a ton of the above rules. She went from table to table, telling the other authors all about her book. At first, I was interested. But then she went on, and on, and on, and on, justifying to me why she wrote it. After five minutes, I started looking for breaks and ways out of the conversation. None came. It was a very frustrating experience, and by the time she was done with me, I had no desire to ever look at one of her books again. I know she did this to potential readers because my mom dropped by her table and had the same thing happen.

The moral of the story? Find one or two sparkly sentences to describe your story, then focus on something else. :-) We’ll be going over description writing and how to come up with fantastic blurbs and pitches later.

A lot of Indie Authors earn bad names for themselves by breaking the above rules.

Here are some dos:

  • Do be genuine.
  • Do what you say you’ll do. If you agree to guest blog for someone, do it. If you agree to read another person’s work, do it. (And don’t agree if you know you won’t have the time.)
  • When at book signings, concentrate on having a good, fun, social experience. People will be more drawn to you if they feel like you’re not selling to them.

Last year, while signing at the Costcos in my area, I saw many, many women wearing fantastic jewelry. I make earrings (for myself. I’m selfish, I know. :-)) and would stop them to ask where they got their jewelry. That was my only motive. Frequently, those people would end up buying my books, which was a huge bonus! The main thing for me was all of the really good ideas I got for future earrings. :-)

For this prompt, I want you to:

  1. Write a scene between two authors wherein one of them punches the other for talking too much about his/her book. (Yes, violence will be okay for this prompt. ;-))
  2. Tell your online approach to talking about your books.
  3. Tell an experience you had where a salesperson tried to get you to buy their product and were unsuccessful.
  4. Tell an experience where a salesperson tried to get you to buy their product and were successful.
  5. (Or do both, and explain what the difference was)

Or you can freestyle write about anything I mentioned above.


You have until Thursday, April 11, 2013 at midnight to write and post, and it can be in any format.

I will comment on and feature your responses a week from today.

* Have your title say FWE or Friday Writing Essential, and have the initials “SPSP” (Self-Publishing and Self-Presentation) in it.

* Make sure to post to the Writing Essential Group.

* Put FWE or Friday Writing Essentials and the initials “SPSP” in your tags.

Have a great week!

Responses to last week’s prompt:

karen vaughan

Len Maxwell

Sheila Deeth

Pam Brittain


And now, pictures of Lizzy! :-)


On a hike with Mom and Dad! She stayed awake this time. :-)


She’s discovered the TV… Great…Totally craning her neck here to watch. :-)


Ha ha ha ha!! A little finger found a hole. :-) I hope this isn’t the beginning of a nasty habit… :-) She hasn’t done it again, and I honestly don’t think she knew it had happened. :-)

About the Author ()

I'm the author of the Kilenya Series and Katon University SeriesKilenya Series (middle grade fantasy):The Key of Kilenya (Kilenya, 1) The Ember Gods (Kilenya, 2) August Fortress (Kilenya, 3)Rise of Keitus (Kilenya,4)Eyes of th

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