Tag Archives: Author FAQ

Let’s talk about authors and marketing

I’ve seen it online time and time again — authors who feel conflicted about the promotional aspects of their job as authors.

“But wait!” you say. (Because I know you would.) “Authors write books! Promotional stuff isn’t part of the job!”

Siddown, Skippy. Welcome to 2016. Like it or not, marketing and promotions are absolutely part of the job, whether or not you want to do it or like doing it. Traditional publishers are stretched thin, and publicists are fantastic people who are overworked and underpaid. So you have to shoulder some of that.

I think we all have a natural reticence when it comes to marketing our work. It feels like bragging, and most of us are self-aware enough, most of the time, to recognize that bragging is poor form, Donald Trump notwithstanding. Also, outright bragging about yourself isn’t going to win you support, also Donald Trump notwithstanding. (That man is a dumpster fire in a human suit. And he’s doing well in spite of, not because of, his incessant bragging and frighteningly needy shtick. But I digress.)

Anyway, you know what? You wrote a book. That’s a pretty impressive achievement! Even counting the surge of self-published authors, those who have written and published books still represent far less than 1% of the general population. You did a cool thing there! And you should feel good about it. You beat the odds! It’s on a shelf! Heck, I’m still excited to see my book on a shelf in a store. And because of my name, it’s shelved next to George R.R. Martin’s stuff, which is always a nice plus. Talk about discoverability.

Look, the fact remains that, even if you’re published by a traditional publisher, you still have to do the publicity stuff. That means you’ll write up a heap of blog posts for various sites, answer interview questions via e-mail, do a bunch of podcasts and generally talk a lot about yourself and your book.

So what do you say?  Continue reading

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Author FAQ: Money matters for writers

A few months ago, I did a blog post/ranty-thing tackling the notion that you have to be a starving artist in order to truly be creative. (Spoiler: That’s a load of crap.) Nobody likes starving. If you have the means to avoid it, and most readers here presumably do, I think you have the obligation to, you know, not starve.

As something of a corollary to that, I’m often asked when I’m going to “make the leap” or “cash out” or whatever euphemism is used for leaving my day-job to write fiction full time. While many writers dream of such a thing, this is not a realistic goal for me. I work in the financial services industry, in marketing and communications, and frankly…they pay me quite well. Barring a sudden ascension in sales to the George R.R. Martin level, it ain’t happening.

And it really wasn’t my goal, anyway. In addition to the pay, I get benefits: really good medical/dental/vision insurance for my whole family, retirement savings, and the ability to save for my daughter’s college education. And here’s the kicker…I actually really like my job. I work with great people on projects that are interesting and challenging.

But I get it, that urge to walk away and just write full time. There are days, man, let me tell you, when I’m right there with you. And given that my wife is a freelance writer and aspiring novelist, I have some experience with balancing the desire to leave the office with the realities of cold, hard cash. So I’m expanding the Author FAQ here on the site to incorporate some money matters.

(Note that these opinions are solely my own, and I am not a financial advisor or planner. I’m just a guy who’s seen some stuff and throwing out ideas. If you have questions, talk to someone, you know, qualified.)  Continue reading

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Author FAQ: On ideas for new stuff

Welcome to the latest in the occasional Author FAQ series of posts, in which I answer questions I tend to get from time to time, both online and off, about this whole published-author thing. Check out the link for past entries in this little series. I have a few more in me that will likely come out over the next day or two.

How do you come up with ideas? How do you manage them?

With The Venusian Gambit, and thus the entire Daedalus series, officially written and done, I’ve begun focusing on what’s next, which makes this a good time to answer the above question, as I’m starting fresh once more. While I’m still not ready to talk about my next book(s), primarily because they’ve not been sold yet, I can certainly talk about how I do what I do.

First off, I have a lot of ideas. I tend to jot them down when they occur to me, whether in a notebook or on my phone. I have a running list of stuff I’d like to do, and I doubt I will ever get around to doing all of them. This is, of course, not a bad problem to have. It really isn’t a question of having ideas — if you’re an author, those ideas should be popping out of your brain matter all the time — it’s a question of finding the ones that have the best combination of passion and feasibility.

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Author FAQ: On what I can realistically do for you

We’ve tackled writing, agenting, traditional publishing and self-publishing, and yet there are still a handful of frequently asked questions left, primarily surrounding the question of what I personally can do to help you, a potentially aspiring writer, in your career.

Yep, I’ve been asked all these questions, and it’s very flattering; by no means do I want to discourage anyone from asking me stuff. Hopefully, these answers will be a good place to start.

Ready? Of course you are.

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Author FAQ: On self-publishing

So far, these FAQs have been pretty straightforward, and have primarily dealt with the writing process, which is something every scribe can relate to, along with agents and traditional publishing. Today, we get into self-publishing.

This is a touchy subject for some, and I genuinely believe there’s a lot of sturm und drang here that’s unwarranted. (I’ve blogged about this before.) If you disagree with my take on self-publishing — which is by no means meant to be the end-all, be-all on the topic — feel free to comment here. But please do so respectfully. Let’s have a discussion without name calling and such. I know this the Internet, but I don’t feel I’m asking too much.

As always, this is my take, and your experience will vary, as will the experiences of other authors.

Ready? Let’s go:  Continue reading

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Author FAQ: On publishing (and my publisher)

So far, we’ve tackled frequently asked questions about writing and getting an agent. Today, I’m going to talk about publishing.

Now, granted, my experience with the publishing world has been both limited in scope and complex in nature. I’ve had two contracts total in my fiction career, so it’s a limited sample. And as I’ve said before, your experience likely will differ. In fact, I hope it goes a bit smoother. But that said, I can’t complain. My books are on shelves, and that’s an awesome feeling.

Again, as a reminder, other authors may have different opinions, which is great. Don’t just rely on me to inform your authorial and/or publishing escapades. Do your homework!

With that said, on to the next:  Continue reading

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Author FAQ: On getting an agent

So yesterday I answered some questions about writing, my process, and what’s worked for me. Today, we’re going to talk about getting an agent, which is the source of no small amount of angst among many would-be authors.

As I said yesterday, my experiences will likely be very different from yours, and other authors may have different opinions here. This is my take on it.

Here we go:  Continue reading

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Author FAQ: On writing

Believe it or not, that “Contact” tab sees a decent amount of use, which pleases me greatly – I love hearing from folks about my work. Some of it is out-and-out fan mail, which will never ever get old. Some of it is about writing and publishing and requests for advice.

Between e-mail and some in-person questions I’ve received at readings and conventions, it’s readily apparent that there are folks out there very interested in my experiences writing novels and getting them published.

Now, my advice is probably worth that portion of your monthly electric bill used solely to power your computer, but since people have asked, I’ll do what I can. As with so many things in life, your experience can, and likely will, be different.

I’ll be doing a topic every other day for the next week or so. Note that the questions are tongue-in-cheek but also reflect things I’ve actually had folks ask me. With that said, here we go:  Continue reading


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