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All posts for the month July, 2014

THE IMPORTANCE OF PEOPLE

Published July 20, 2014 by Loulou Harrington

Not so long ago I was reading a post in an online writers group I belong to. It was from a young American living and working in the Orient. He was a writer wanting to connect with other writers and reaching out through the best avenue he had–social media. He reminded me of how lucky I had been when I had accidentally moved into a state with a thriving community of writers. In a year’s time I went from being someone who had written steadily for a decade, receiving praise from teachers but knowing no other writers, to someone who was given a roadmap to achieving the professional writing success I had dreamed of.

And what I had been given was people–people with the same dreams and ambitions as I had. People who taught writing and wrote what they taught. Journalists who wanted to write fiction. Talented amateurs who formed critique groups to help each other develop our skills. Writers groups with meetings and speakers and contests. State-wide groups with yearly conferences, where professionals–agents, editors, other writers–came to speak and offer advice. National conferences and groups who offered bigger and better opportunities and advice.

But most important of all were the friendships formed, the working together to help each other grow and hone our skills. Writers, as a group, are the most generous professionals I have ever met. They offer their knowledge, their encouragement and their assistance freely.

So to anyone out there, at almost any stage in your development, the best advice I can offer is to reach out to other writers wherever you find them. Listen to each other. Talk. Share. Form a critique group and offer objective, constructive criticism. Some of the most successful writers I know were not technically good writers in the beginning. But they worked, and they learned, and in the end, perseverance will accomplish much more than raw talent ever will. Anyone can work. Anyone can learn. And anyone can create something that will sell.

Of my original critique group of eight, all but two became selling writers, all of full length books, all with major publishers when print was all there was. This group broke into smaller groups that continued to incorporate new writers who continued to become selling authors of full length books sold to major publishers. This is not a fluke. When writers pull together to help each other become the best they can be, it works.

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I Learned Something Today

Published July 18, 2014 by Loulou Harrington

I learned something today as a result of something else I had already figured out: It’s good to network. I know–you already knew that. But it’s one of those things that it’s okay to repeat. In a post today in an online group for writers and readers, a member explained the importance of using the “like” button on a writer’s Amazon Author’s page, i.e., that the more “likes” an author gets on his page, the more attention Amazon pays to promoting him or her.

Now this may not be news to you, but I’m sure it’s news to somebody besides just me. Did I mention that I’m one of “those people” who likes the feel of a book between my hands? You know, a “real” book with those annoying paper pages that you have to actually turn, and that you can’t read in the dark without a light on, and that take up room in your luggage when you travel? See, I know all the downsides, and I still love them.

I resisted actually purchasing or reading an eBook, or buying something to read one on, or even joining Amazon, until long after I had finished the manuscript for my first mystery, began my second AND made the decision to market them as eBooks rather than to spend years finding an agent and then a traditional print publisher. So I not only have a lot to learn, I have a lot to unlearn, and a whole new way of thinking to absorb.

And the rest of what I learned today is that besides the “like” button, there are other things you should do every time you buy a book through Amazon or probably any other seller. You should also post that you just bought the book and then submit a review of the book after you’ve read it. It doesn’t have to be a big, glowing review unless it really moved you. A simple sentence, preferably a simple, kind sentence, is all that’s necessary, because, once again, the more reviews a book gets, the more promotion Amazon will give it.

It all counts. All those things I wasn’t paying any attention to count. I was buying the books of friends and shortchanging them because I simply didn’t know that sales aren’t the only thing that matters. And now I know–because someone took the time to post an explanation and reminder to the authors and readers in a group they belong to.

Which is the main thing I learned today–that it ALL counts. Sharing. Helping. Paying attention. And passing on information. Even if some people already know, others won’t. When someone extends a hand, take it. When you move up a step on the ladder, reach back to the person below you and help them move up. That’s networking. That’s how you not only build success, but how you share it. It’s how you grow as a writer, and as a person. And THAT is real success.

Vague Beginnings

Published July 16, 2014 by Loulou Harrington

The beginning is always frightening. Where will this go? How will it sound? How will it look? And does it really matter, because, most of all, will anyone ever see it?

I am a writer of books. I once wrote for a major publisher where I created the manuscript and they did the editing, the publishing, the marketing, pretty everything else, while I started on the next book without giving the rest of it much thought.

There are still a few writers who do that, but the numbers are diminishing. For better or for worse, there are more and more writers who are choosing the more direct route of the ebook. Whether they are self-published or use an ePublisher, the writer now bears most of the burden of editing, proofing, and marketing, as well as creating. And with this, they are truly taking their own fate into their hands.

I am now beginning this journey myself. Knowing next to nothing about social media or marketing, I am a writer in search of readers, and I’m not sure how I will find them, or they will find me. I believe in myself as a novelist, but that is only part of success in this new world of publishing. And as for the rest, I am only beginning.

Come journey with me and maybe we can learn together, if only what not to do and how not to do it. New beginnings can be frightening and frustrating, but without risk there is no success. And I believe in success.