Welcome to an entire month of Top 5 Tips for Authors!
Every day this month my friends and I will bring you a new set of Top 5 Tips to help you along on your author journey. 2017 was a year of change in the Indie author world for sure. So many happenings. So many new things to learn. So many old things that didn’t quite do what you’d hoped. Well, every day is a new day. And every year is a new year. So we hope that this month’s worth of tips will get you the kick start you need to make 2018 your best yet and please feel free to ask questions and leave comments.
Julia Kent is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of crazy romantic comedy that pushes buttons and boundaries. She lives in New England but isn’t a Patriots fan, and that means she channels all her disappointment in rooting for the Browns (see? comedic, right? you’re laughing hysterically… at me) into her books. Her Shopping for a Billionaire series features a smart, klutzy woman who meets a billionaire in a bathroom after dropping her phone in the toilet. Kind of like watching the Browns fumble something. You can find out how little she really knows football at http://www.jkentauthor.com and on Facebook at: http://www.facebook.com/jkentauthor
I’ve been part of the romance writing community since 2009, lurking on message boards and forums before taking the plunge. Even back then, authors moaned about the “overcrowded field.”
If that was overcrowded, I’ll take it!
Visibility and discoverability are the biggest problem most authors face as we head into 2018. So how do you stand out in a crowd? Here are my five top tips for NOT blending in.
You cannot stand out if you spend your time trying to be just like everyone else. It’s plain old common sense, but we can be blinded by watching early adopters benefit from a new trend. Here’s the problem: if you chase trends, you never stand out in a crowd — you’re always part of it. INVENT your own trend. Then you’ll stand out.
2 BE GENUINE.
I have a chicken in one of my series. The hero of one of my books got high on peyote, stole her from a farmer, and later in the story named her Mavis and declared the chicken his fiancee. (Don’t worry— no one has sex with the chicken).
I didn’t sit down and say to myself, “Oh, chickens will be a great social media tool for capturing readers.” I just wrote the story that popped into my head.
And you know what happened? People have spent almost five years sending me chicken videos. Making me pictures of chickens. Sending me chicken-related gifts. Tagging me on social media with chicken songs, chicken pictures, chicken swag… because they love it.
All because I was genuine and let the story be authentic.
3 STICK TO PRINCIPLES.
I made a decision in 2012 that Julia Kent would always be POSITIVE, CHEERFUL, and NO DRAMA. Whenever I get angry behind the scenes about an issue and want to post about it, I stop and ask myself: would that meet my principles? My image? No. Okay, then don’t do it.
That doesn’t mean I’m a doormat, or that I never express my opinion. But it means I have guidelines, essential qualities I adhere to.
Your principles aren’t mine. But you need to know WHAT they are, because in order to stand out in a crowd, you need to stand for *something*.
4 LOOK FOR THE HOLES.
This ties in with not chasing trends, but it’s different. The whirlwind of publishing — especially if you do this for a living and depend on your publishing income to survive — gives us very little time for contemplation. We easily slide into reactive mode. You can’t think when you’re reacting.
Take time away from social media, away from work, away from it all (I know, you’re rolling your eyes, but bear with me) to think about where the right holes are (haha, get your mind out of the gutter…).
What are people not doing? Where are the holes in your subgenre? What marketing ideas could you try that make you stand out? What are people claiming “doesn’t work,” but you read that and think, “But I’m pretty sure it could”?
You can’t find those openings if you don’t give yourself the space to find them. Make the space.
5 DON’T SELL. CONNECT.
I love Facebook. I am terrible on Twitter. My Twitter stream is full of tweets about my books, retweets, and… not much else.
My Facebook feed is all about my life, my writing process, snippets from my books, funny memes I find — and the authenticity of connection shows. Readers come to our books for emotional experiences. In this era of social media, they seek out authors for *more* connection.
But if all you do is sell, you lose that valuable relationship. That doesn’t mean exposing every detail your private life. No, no, no. But it means being authentic. I’m a huge Outlander fan. HUGE. So I talk about Outlander. Same with coffee. This is *me*. It’s who I am. And pieces of me are in my books. Readers who connect with my books come to find the person inside them.
And when that connection is strengthened, the sales may follow. You can’t put the cart before the horse.