“I Got The CALL” AKA The S&@!t hit the fan

Highway Signpost "Shitstorm"When you’re a writer not-yet-published, it seems most of your time is spent learning about craft, how to pitch, how to query, who to query, how to deal with rejec—nope, that word needs a capital—Rejection. You may even learn about what to do when you get The Call. So you finally sold, but now what???

Honestly, you won’t find much guidance on what happens after. It’s like moving out on your own all over again! Why is there not more info out there? Short answer is publishing paths are widely different, but I’m willing to share what I suffer—uhm, learned.

First, it could take weeks for you to get your shiny new contract all signed and official, and expect there’s likely to be some back and forth as you or your agent negotiates. Second, it could take years for your book to publish. Years. I was fortunate that I’m with Entangled, who happened to have slots open so it took only nine months. See? A full-term book-baby, and yes, there were some labor pains (but they’re forgotten once the baby’s born).

What do you do in the meantime? Well first, at some point, you’ll have multiple rounds of edits, several passes and then several more when you count copy edits and the final galley review. This is something I wasn’t aware of, just how many times I’d go through the manuscript. It varies, but it was six or seven for me.

Aside from that, it’s a waiting game during which you’ll be advised to do some promo. What you may not know is you can’t promo something if you have no deets on it. Are you going to publicize that ‘hey, I’ve got a book coming sometime eventually with some cover and some title’? The more details you have, like title for example, the more options are open to you.

While you wait for those details, the best you can do is build a web presence. There are tons and tons of info out there on how to do that so I won’t beat your head about it other than to suggest you choose avenues you enjoy so you can stick with it consistently. That is what helps you build a good presence. Obviously, a website’s a great starting place. Join some Goodreads groups and follow book bloggers before the book comes out. Network.

Some things you’ll likely have to do is fill out some sort of author questionnaire with your bio information, social media links, possible promo opportunities (like local media info), etc. Depending on your publisher, you may need to send info on your blurb and info to help build your cover art and any possible contacts you have to read your advanced copy for a cover blurb. And don’t forget you’ll have to get awesome, professional author pics!

What I strongly suggest while you wait is to learn all you can about promo avenues. Marketing for Romance Writers is invaluable no matter where you are in your publication journey (Summer Camp’s coming up with loads of pitch appointments). Author EMS is another great site to learn about promo, and their workshops are inexpensive and super-informative. And they have an active reviewer database!

I know you’ll be chomping at the bit to get your Author Pages up all over the place, but your hands are tied until the publisher puts your book up with its ISBN. Yep, no one told me about all that either. Once it’s up, you can go to Amazon Author Central to “claim” your book and set up your profile with bio, Twitter feed, blog feed, etc. Go to Goodreads and claim your book in the same manner. Your user and author pages will be merged, though you have two profiles, sort of. Don’t forget Shelfari, though I’m not as familiar with that. It may also be beneficial to become an Amazon Affiliate and sign up at Linkshare (who handles B&N, Apple, and Kobo Affiliate programs) so you make a little more for purchases through your links.

Finally, do not rely on the publisher for all of your marketing. Find out what they have planned for you and augment with what you can afford. There are plenty of inexpensive options so unless you’re loaded (har har!), leave the big spending to them. You don’t even need to hire someone to arrange or add to your blog tour. You can check out your fav book bloggers, since I know we’re all readers, and check their review policies. Check out the reviewer database on Author EMS. Sign up at World Lit Cafe. In the forums, you can find bloggers looking for guest posts and readers willing to post reviews for you for an ARC.

Add your book on Fresh Fiction if it’s not listed. Sign up as a featured author (only $5/mo) on The Romance Studio. Sign up on Manic Readers to add your book/s and author page or pay $2.99/mo for a plus membership. These are free or low-cost ways to use their already-built following to promote. Don’t forget to sign up for Authorgraph, too, another free site—is it weird that I find Evan attractive???

Well, there’s only so much room here so we’ll leave this as a good start. When I realized I should have been prepared for the post-sale steps but wasn’t, I was pretty panicky and it absolutely felt like I was in a Shitstorm. I think if you know ahead of time, this stuff isn’t so bad, though. Please share other resources in the comments if you know them, and if you write paranormal, shoot me an email if you’d like my list of reviewers. I read 300+ books per year, and I followed a lot of them well before making my first sale ;) And if you’re pubbed, tell us what you wished you’d known before the book came out. I’m in the mood for some  horror stories *evil grin*

Don’t miss my blog stops for the release of Bad Mouth, out now all over the darn place, and enter the big giveaway for a $50 Amazon or B&N gift card or an author-signed paranormal book bundle including a hardcover by Darynda Jones and trade paper by Jillian Stone, Cassi Carver, and Kelley Armstrong!!!

Leave a comment by midnight Pacific on Tues, 28May13, and you’re entered to win a free ebook of Bad Mouth (or another digital Entangled title, if you already have mine—bless you for that!).

Comments

  1. Thanks for this article. I just read an article in RWR on “Author Central.”

    • I think I missed that article, darn it. I suspect someone has been nabbing my RWR’s and my RTs. Grrrrr. Anyway, Author Central’s pretty useful, especially since they’ve added some more features like the blog feed. Really, the best idea is to put your profile/brand on everything you can get your hands on, and Author Central is absolutely free and very visible to Amazon users :)

  2. Angela,

    Congratulations on the release of BAD MOUTH. That is so exciting!!! Your advice is spot on. Whether you’re published through a NY House, a smaller press or self-published, everyone needs to learn to market.

    As for me, I got the call from Berkley last fall. You can bet I’m busily learning everything I can about marketing.

    Another great resource is PAINLESS MARKETING FOR BUSY AUTHORS by Valerie Bowman. It’s only 99 cents on Amazon and offers terrific tips.

    I don’t have a horror story but maybe an “Oh, wow, really?!” story. My book, slated for release next April, is still untitled. More than fifty (50) different titles have been suggested. Once, my editor and I even thought we had it…then the marketing department nixed it. :) But, I think we’re close to finding one everyone is happy with.

    • Thanks for the recommend, Mary! I feel your pain on the title. My working title was Bad Mouth, but I was supposed to come up with ideas to change it so I did submit a list of alternates. I never knew which one they decided on until I finally saw the cover art only a few days before the preorder links popped up on all the vendors. So of course, I couldn’t order any swag until the last minute, lol. I didn’t even have a book info page on my website. I guess I could have put something up, but I didn’t have a cover, a title, or an approved blurb, and absolutely, definitely no preorder links. Hm, dilemma…Fortunately, it all worked out for me in the end :)

      If you haven’t checked out MFRW, take a peek. It’s free and they have lots of great advice and marketing opportunities.

    • Congrats to Mary! Mr. Randomizer picked your name from the list of commenters and you’ve won a digital title by Entangled Publishing. I sent a message through your contact form but if you don’t receive it, you can contact me: angmccallister (at) gmail (dot) com.

  3. Great post, very informative. Always hungry for more industry prospectus from other authors, cheers. :)

    • Hi, Ryan! Thanks for swinging by. I do love that about our community of authors. I’ve never met a group of people so willing to help each other out and share advice and experiences. And have some fun commiserating with, too.

  4. Ang, Thanks for all the info. And congratulations on your debut release Bad Mouth!

    • Thank you! I got my first badge of honor this morning, lol (a 2.5 star rating w/ no review on GR). You haven’t really hit the big time ’til you’ve been pirated and you’ve got your first negative rating ;)

  5. Yay you for your upcoming release. Contact me and we’ll set up a date for you to visit and promote on Vintage Vonnie. Whoot! You forgot to add that while waiting for your release you should be writing your next book. I try to write at least 3 titles a year and am aiming for 4, which is what many pubs expect. Of course this is kinda hard to do when you’re spending 2-3 hours every day–EVERY day–doing some form of self-promotion. Newbie writers think once they contract, that’s it. NO, it’s only the beginning. Writing the damn book was the easy part. Branding and selling yourself is the absolute pits, but no publisher will do it for you. None. This is purley the author’s responsibility. Great post! Good luck.

    • You’re awesome, Vonnie! Will get in touch after I get off work.and absolutely work on the next book. My editor, Liz, said you don’t truly start to get out of the red until the third book or so, and I have to say she knows her shit (and she’d use that word. That hooker talks like a Sailor, too!) And marketing does take up sooo much time, especially if you’re saving money by doing much of it on your own. So glad you brought that up.

  6. Holy Shitstorm, Ang! I knew there was an Epilog to this writing stuff…but crap! Sooo much work. But all worth it! Thank God I have you gals to guide me! Now if I could only finish a book!!! Can’t wait to download my copy of Bad Mouth! TODAY!!! Yippee!!!
    Love you and thanks for all the great info!

    • Yay! And you’re in the book twice!!! My Galley review was already sent in when I noticed it, but how cool is that??? Honestly, I think my website takes up the most time with all the designing, building, and updating. I didn’t have thousands of dollars so I did it all myself, even the banner at the top. All using freeware. Total cost for three years of hosting, my domain, my theme, and graphics=around $160. Saved a lot of money but a high cost in time, and I’m still having some Java troubles.

  7. I thought writing the book took a lot of time and effort, but really, this web-presence stuff is what is killing me now. I follow lots of blogs, because I think it is only fair to support authors who I want to support me. And I actually read them!!! This is one reason why I HATE Twitter. I’m new to Twitter, and follow less than 100 people, but I can’t read them all…in which case, what’s the point?
    So while I was scratching around for time to write in the past, I’m spending at least an hour a day following blogs and commenting, and there goes my writing time. I think it is different when writing (and all the stuff that goes with it) is your full time job, but I’m commenting on my lunch hour right now because there just arent’ enough hours in my day.
    Having said that, I have e-met a lot of wonderful and supportive people in my author groups, blogs, etc. Now if I could just find the time for my WIP.

    • Charlotte, I used to hate Twitter too until I downloaded TweetDeck (the free version). It changed the experience completely because you can organize your views based on your hand-selected lists. For example, I have 9 custom columns that show me different feeds. I can scroll through those individual feeds to keep up with their updates. So. Much. Better! Check it out. :)

    • I hate, hate, hate to say this, but blogging is a huge time suck. The worst! I can address everyone who tags me on Twitter within a few minutes per day. Tweeting takes only a few minutes per day and I can spend a few seconds here and there while I’m waiting in line, but the blogs are never that easy and not very mobile-device friendly. I never feel like I have to read all the tweets. I only scroll back a bit for ones I want to RT, and then I go about my business. Do I miss some big stuff? Sometimes, but if you take a little time to set up lists, it alleviates that issue because you can skim categories of tweeps more quickly, and you can schedule tweets if you use a third-party service like Hootsuite. That way you’re not on all day and you’re not spamming in a big chunk. I haven’t even set up lists. I simply look up profiles when I’m wondering what’s up with someone.

      I resisted Pinterest, but now that I’m on, I know it’s going to be like Twitter to me. Pinning is super easy because I have an extension in my browser that makes it a two-click process, if the pic is pinnable. I have to check on my boards daily, though. Really, just my Hawt one, lol. Ya know, fer… uhm… fer…inspiration. Yes, that’s it.

      For blogs, I try to have them go to my email so they’re easier to screen, and then–time permitting–I’ll get to them after my high priority emails are done. Needless to say, I have a hard time getting around to the blogs these days. Maybe when I’m full-time writing and don’t have a day job, I can block off a few hours per week.

  8. Guys, BAD MOUTH is such a freaking good book!! I love it!!

    I’m so excited for you, Ang! And I’m so glad you’re a few steps ahead of me so I can pick your brain as I fumble in the dark toward my own release. Life does get….interesting after a story is bought. My family has had to adjust to me having deadlines, and don’t even ask me about the state of our house. Our air hockey table has become a clean laundry weigh station where everyone goes in the morning to pick our their clothes for the day. I mean, who needs dressers or a closet, right? OMG.

    But of course it’s all going to be worth it. Right? Right?! **crickets**

    I love social media, otherwise, that would suck since writers do need to spend a lot of time interacting, following, engaging… But Vonnie’s right. We need to guard our time for new material. Because if we don’t have new material, what’s the point in building your platform?

    One little tip I can share based on my experience is…as you’re writing, think about what kind of swag you’re interested in giving away that relates to the book. That way you can write it into the story after you’ve found something you’re going to purchase.

    I’m sure I’ll come back to this post a lot in the months ahead. Thanks, Ang, and cheers! Wishing you tons of sales!! :) xoxo

    • Hahaha! You crack me up, Misty! Yes, it’s worth it. You’ve been such a fantastic cheerleader for me, too :) Better believe when you’re up to bat, I’ll be all over that job! And the swag thing is dead on. I’m making custom bookmarks (if my freaking supplies would eeeeever get here!) with the book cover and itty bitty fang charms and itty bitty swords and stuff like that. So easy to customize for different kinds of books. I have bullets and guns and K-bars and grenades coming, too, to make something special for my friend, Melissa Cutler’s, Diego story. This could become a thing! Could do wolves and moons for Lisa Kessler’s. Possibilities are endless. In Bad Cop (working title), the sequel to Bad Mouth, Ian is a huuuuuge collector of fast cars so I have all kinds of ideas for his story, like car air fresheners with the cover on it. Or is that just too cheesy???

      • Air fresheners with a hot guy (cover) on it? Sign me up!! That’s actually a fantastic idea because it’s in everyone’s face for a long time. I can’t wait to read this whole series! :)

  9. Wow, Ang. Just, wow. I feel like printing this out on coloured paper and decorating my office… Or making spreadsheets. Lol. This is an amazing wealth of information. Thank you for sharing!

    I don’t have a publishing contract story (yet, *fingers crossed*) but even reaching that stage of “agented” has changed my perspective and made this REAL, you know? I’m bracing myself for the next steps and trying to cram in as much as I can about this crazy marketing/social media world without my brain exploding :) Having my fellow chicks act as guinea pigs, um, PIONEERS, really helps! I don’t know where I’d be without you guys! Love ya!

    Oh, and SUPER congrats on your release! *hugs*

    • ROFL, nice save, Rach! Oh, yeah, I know that feeling, the one where you’re on the cusp. Let me mention, though, that you’ll go through a bit of time where you’ll be in a sort of limbo, where you’re not quite published but contracted. I couldn’t enter the Golden Heart or the RITAs last year because I was in that in-between. I’m like that in PRO, too. Pubbed, but can’t go to PAN because I won’t see a penny of royalties until near the end of the year. And if they do like last year, judges get first dibs on entering the RITAs, and you have to be PAN to judge. If there’s enough PAN members entering, us pubbed PROs are left in the cold again. Dilemma. I have to hope I make enough in my first royalty statement to make PAN. Otherwise, I’ll be out again and with no chance of entering the first book competition. It’s a bummer, but it’s how they’re operating now. Fortunately, now that Bad Mouth is out, I can finally continue with entering contests for pubbed authors, even if the RITAs are off the table again.

  10. Great info! Thanks for sharing.

  11. It’s that Shitstorm picture. Just sucks people in!

  12. Angela… absolutely and totally agree. I threw myself boots and all into the epilogue of publishing and it worked. I fielded so many enquiries, I wrote it down and self pubbed it!
    God luck with your Covet… can’t wait to read it!

    • Sweet! I will have to get that primer. It’s great to know other authors who’ve been through all of this. Sharing experiences can help save all the confusion, lol. And I hope you love the book. I’ve had great feedback on it so far. So hard to judge when you’ve been through the manuscript so many times you lose perspective and don’t see the forest anymore. The good reviews have helped me reconnect with it quite a bit. I’m sure you know exactly what I’m talking about :)

  13. I just remembered another resource for finding places to guest blog. If you have a blog and a Twitter, you should consider joining Triberr, which allows you to join groups who cross-promote each other. If you go to Bonfires, there’s a link with people requesting guest posts. Be sure to find ones that match your target audience.

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  1. […] Every wonder what happens after writers get the call?  Sometimes, the sh*t hits the fan. […]

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