This past week marked the first year since I published my first two books on Amazon (happy anniversary, me!). I have gone on to publish another seven books this year, three of which have been translated into Spanish, and one which will debut in audio format at the end of the month. Not bad for a year’s work!
Now, when I set out on this writing venture, I knew I needed to brush up on the ‘craft’ of writing. It’s been a good long while since I sat in any type of literature or creative writing class.
For some reason, though, the writing part came quickly and easily for me, both in the fiction and the nonfiction realm. Maybe it’s because I’ve dreamed of being a writer for as long as I can remember and secretly (constantly) crafted stories in my head throughout the years.
Unfortunately, though, to be taken seriously as a writer and author these days, good writing is not enough. Authors of today are expected to wear MANY hats, whether independently or traditionally published. When I started writing I had NO idea just how many hats would end up on my hat rack at the end of the year.
So, here are a few things I’ve learned during my first year as a serious writer:
Authors Need a Hub to Showcase Their Work
Simply put, authors need a website. Sounds easy enough, but I am about as technically savvy as a soggy donut. Website hosting, themes, plugins, security, site backup options, front end, back end, updates, legal media usage, all these things and more are basically greek to me.
I spent over two weeks this time last year swimming in a raging website tutorial sea, hoping I would eventually find one, just ONE tutorial that would keep me from sinking and answer all my questions. I had to settle for the information piecemeal until I bucked up and bought a website building course on Udemy (that was money well spent, I tell you!).
So why not just hire someone to build my website?
For me, there were two reasons.
- If I know how to do everything on my website I can make changes quickly. If I have to rely on someone else I basically have to wait until they can ‘fit’ me in.
- Hiring someone is not cheap.
Building my website was not easy, but I got it done. And I’m proud of my website. Plus, I have total control over what is posted and when without having to rely on someone else’s help to make it happen.
Authors Need to Show Up On Social Media
OK, maybe I spend a little too much time on Facebook sometimes, but, honestly, I’m not that into social media. Maybe it’s the introverted part of me that just finds the whole thing a bit too…overwhelming. I mean, who can keep up with so many people? Who wants to?
But, come to find out, authors need to be present on social media, at least two or three of them, on a regular basis. This is not so much about trying to sell your stuff, it’s more about meeting like-minded people. It’s about making ‘connections’ and ‘engaging’ with other people who do what you do so that you can learn from them, and, hopefully, eventually, they can learn from you.
While this was a really tall order the first few months after I began writing, I have found some smart, helpful, and fun people on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I have learned, though, that you have to schedule your time wisely or you will get sucked up into the social media whirlpool and lose precious writing time. But it can be done. And, for me, it’s been worth the effort and time involved to make these connections.
Authors Need a Mailing List
This is a biggie. And non-negotiable. Authors simply need a way to more personally connect with their readers than blasting out a few posts on social media.
Building a mailing list, if done correctly, takes time and patience because you don’t want just ‘anybody’ on your mailing list. The number of people on your list is not as important as the quality of people on your list.
In this, I have been lucky because I have fantastic people on my mailing list! I have found beta readers and advance readers through my mailing list. People from my mailing list have helped me name some of my characters and narrow down titles of my books. People on my mailing list keep me inspired to continue writing and have been so generous in helping me spread the word about my work with their friends.
If you are on my mailing list, THANK YOU for your support! If you’re not on my mailing list yet but would like to join, just hit the “Free Short Story” tab on my menu bar to get a sample of my fiction writing and twice monthly updates about what’s going on in my writing world.
Now, this is not everything I’ve learned on my writing journey this past year, so in a couple of weeks, I will share with you some other things I have learned in Part Two of A Writing Anniversary: Things I Learned During My First Year As a Serious Writer!
K. Kris Loomis is the author of the humorous travel memoir, Thirty Days In Quito: Two Gringos and a Three-Legged Cat Move to Ecuador. She also writes adult parables and short stories as well as books about yoga and meditation. Kris is a determined chess player, an origami enthusiast, a classically trained pianist, and a playwright. She lives in South Carolina with her husband and two cats.
Get a free short story by signing up for Kris’ bi-weekly blog! And you can connect with Kris anytime on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest @kkrisloomis.