The Little Things Authors Can Do to Promote Themselves

I am mystified when I see authors skipping out on doing the simplest of things when promoting their work.  Those “little” things can get you tons of attention and traffic for your website and your books. So check out this list and if you aren’t doing these little things, you really should do them.

Advertise in Your Email Signatures:

Free advertisement made easy. You have the potential to reach many, many people through emailing. Why not throw some promo their way? Put the link of your website, blog, Twitter and Facebook in your signature.  If you can upload a photo of your recent book or books, then that’s even better. I’d suggest adding your FB fanpage, Amazon Author Profile page and mailing list in your signature as well. I squeeze as much info in my signatures as possible. People pay attention to signatures. They really do.

Use Signatures in Forums and Discussion Groups:

It amazes me how many authors I see in online groups who ask what they can do to promote and they don’t do the simplest thing of putting links in the signature of their posts.  Put a link to your sites and use your book cover as your photo image. It might seem like it’s not a big deal but it is. Most people click through links especially those that lead to where your book can be sampled. But if you don’t provide links on forums and groups you’re not even trying. Gotta lead the horse to water for him to know it’s there.

Link Up Everything:

As important as “sharing” is to promote your content, many authors still don’t take advantage of something so simple.  Link up! If you have a blog, link it up to your FB and Twitter.  Get it into Networkedblogs.  Create an Amazon Author Profile and link it to your FB, Twitter and whatever other social networks you might have.  Unfortunately Facebook doesn’t allow authors to link their blogs or sites to their fanpages anymore but you should manually post blog posts and any other info on your page. Every time you link something up it means more visibility because you have many avenues spreading your info for you. Even if it’s just one blog or your website, if it’s linked to several sources it can reach many, many people. Link up everything you can. You’d be amazed at the reach you get.

Retweet Your Own Twitter Posts:

Don’t depend on others to retweet stuff for you! I always retweet my stuff several times a day if it’s something I really wanna share.  All you do is go to your tweets, click on reply, copy and paste into the box and there you go. Something as simple and “little” as retweeting can bring you so much exposure.

Why Writers are Our Own Worst Enemy

Writers are a funky bunch. We are the rulers of self-sabotage. We are always doing something to hinder ourselves in some kind of way and don’t even know it. People think we are whiners because we’re always going on about writing and how hard it is. Screw those people because writing is one of the hardest things in the world to do. Creativity is not something easily controlled and most writers do a damn good job of spawning thoughts into things that inspire and educate.

But we often ignore the education we need when it comes to our own habits. I love doing all I can to help other writers. Since we are so different from other people, we need to lean on each other. No one and I mean no one understands a writer like another writer does.

I’ve outlined some of the biggest self-sabotage habits and how we can conquer them. Check out the list. I bet you’ll find something on it that relates to you.

1) Stop Taking Every Critique You Hear Seriously!
Somewhere along the line writers got the impression that they were supposed to give every critique or review they receive clout. As if everything said about our work is important. Please. Do you know that only a small percentage of critiques you receive will actually help you? Do you realize that there are people in the world who try to get in your head and screw with you just to sabotage? Know your friends from your enemies. Stop listening to everyone! Not everyone is there to help. The main people who run to tell you what not to do don’t know anymore than you do. Too many cooks spoil the broth!

2) Stop Kidding Yourself, Ya’ Bum. It’s Procrastination Not Writers Block
Whoa this is a huge self sabotage habit for writers of all levels. There is a difference between procrastination and Writers Block. The block is when you make an effort at writing but can’t get your ideas to cooperate. Procrastination is laziness. It’s when you walk around saying you want to write something yet you never write anything. It’s when you start a million manuscripts and haven’t finished any of them. It’s when you sit down to write but end up playing on the Internet for an hour then whine claiming Writers Block. Beating procrastination takes discipline and BIC (butt in chair). As long as you give excuses to why you’re not writing, you never will. Start writing or take up something else. If you can’t commit to at least one project how the heck will you finish a book?

3) Thinking You’re Better Than You Are
There is nothing wrong with having pride or knowing you are a good writer. All writers should think this or they have no business writing for publication. But there are some writers who believe there is no room for improvement. Once again this happens with all levels of writers. The trick to staying a good writer is learning. You should always research and learn something new from project to project. Your work should improve not go backwards. Don’t become comfortable or satisfied. Always challenge yourself and input something new that you’ve learned into your latest work.

4) Knowing Your Weaknesses and Strengths
All writers are different. We all have different styles and different voices. We all have strengths and weaknesses. You know what, nothing’s wrong with weaknesses because we’re human. Writers strive too much for perfection and this is self sabotage in its biggest form. Sometimes it’s your weaknesses that make you, you. Sometimes your weakness can be your strength. Pick up some books from writers you enjoy. I bet you can list at least ten of their weaknesses and ten strengths. Being human doesn’t break a writer but striving for perfection your entire life will.

Why Writers Need Facebook and Twitter

Whenever the subject of Facebook and Twitter comes up in terms of book promotion, the first thing people ask is do these places sell books? They get to the meat of it and I understand that. But there is more to it than selling books.

Does Facebook and Twitter sell books? Absolutely. Will they help sell your book? I don’t know.  Of course these places help sell books because they provide word of mouth. But whether or not they sell books for every author is the question. It depends on a lot of things.

Some of the authors that complain about FB and Twitter being a waste of time don’t put in the time to make them work.

What Some Authors Do:

Post constantly about their books

Never participate in any discussions

Never comment on anyone’s status


Beg people to read their books

Are annoying

Don’t follow people who follow them

Don’t respond to people who inbox them

Have their profiles set to private

Well yeah if you act like this you won’t sell any books. People will run for the hills when you pop on if you’re a nuisance and it’s even worse if you refuse to be sociable. Also if you only hock your books you will get lost in the crowd. Do you realize how many authors spam Facebook daily? You think you’re gonna stand out?

To give yourself the chance to see Facebook and Twitter’s full value is to actually become a part of the communities and yes it takes time. If you aren’t patient enough to do this then don’t even get on the sites.  You gotta put in the time.

I believe these sites can work for all authors and all books but these places provide more than just obvious sales. That’s not why writers and authors need these sites.

We need these sites for interaction within the writing community. They connect us with our peers, they allow us to network, they help us find reviewers and places to promote. They also provide environments where you can hangout with other authors and chat, shoot the breeze, whatever.
Why is that important? Because writing is a very solitary life and promoting a book makes you feel even more alone.  It’s healthy to be around people like you are who are going through the same things even if you’re just online.

I’ve connected with tons of cool authors on FB that I never would’ve been able to meet otherwise. Everything is easier with FB and Twitter so why not take advantage of what they offer a writer?

Through these sites you find publicity for your books and your blogs. You find cross promotion opportunities from author friends. When you network with other authors it allows you to pick their brains and you can learn from them. You can swap promo ideas and you can exchange feedback. The opportunities are endless.

The common mistake I see from newbies is that they question the importance of these sites simply because it seems hard to build a network of friends but it’s not. Just take it one day at a time.  You might not like Facebook but love Twitter and you might love Twitter but hate Facebook but it’s worth it to give it a try.

Today’s author (especially newbies) can’t afford to ignore these networks.  So why not just make them work for you?

Don’t look at these places as just places to sell books. If you use your time wisely on FB and Twitter, they prove to provide much more than what you hoped for.

The 411 on Creating Fictional Characters

Characters can make or break a novel. It doesn’t matter if the novel is character-driven or plot-driven if you don’t have characters that the audience feel emotionally invested in then your book will be a disappointing reading experience.

Let me clarify because whenever people start talking about creating characters, folks get confused.  Some writers think that characters have to be likeable for an audience to care. This is false. There have been many characters people hated in some of the most successful books ever.  Audiences don’t have to like your characters but they should be able to connect with them. There’s a difference.

Below are in my opinion five of the biggest misconceptions new writers especially have about creating characters and my opinions of them.

Misconception 1: Characters Must Be Larger Than Life

Sigh. How many times have you heard some so-called writing expert say that your characters must move the world by their very being? Please.  The truth is that most readers prefer down-to-earth normal characters they can relate to. Unless you’re writing a comic book, most readers do not respond well to some superhuman-type character with stale, rigid emotions.  The most effective characters are those who mirror real-life people going through incredible situations.  We like to see normal people like ourselves doing extraordinary things. These characters evoke emotions in readers. It’s hard to relate or care about a character that seems to conquer every issue easily.  Characters shouldn’t ever be perfect or unbelievable.

Misconception 2:  Characters Should Be Memorable

Who made this up? No, what your characters do should be memorable.  Let’s be honest, only a tiny percentage of characters are remembered years after you’ve read the book. As long as the characters are entertaining enough to keep the pages turning, that’s the most important thing. Who cares if someone remembers your characters five or ten years from now? All you should care about is making the readers’ experience pleasurable. You can’t predict how a character will touch a reader no matter how they’re created. I’d rather someone just remember they read my book than any individual character.  Just create characters that keep people interested throughout the book and don’t worry about much else.

Misconception 3: You Should Describe a Character’s Appearance

This depends on the author. Some authors are very descriptive with their characters. They see them in their heads and they want the audience to see them the same way. Other authors never describe their characters physically. You don’t know their races, ages, how they look, anything. There is no right or wrong it’s just a matter of writing style. Sometimes it is important to describe some things about a character but by all means you don’t have to waste ten pages describing Susie from top to bottom. If you are gonna describe your characters make sure you describe what’s important and leave the rest to the audience’s imagination.

Misconception 4: You Should Base Characters on People You Know

Gosh I hope not. I don’t base any of my characters on people I know and wouldn’t want to. I don’t know anyone interesting enough to be in my books. Unless you know a serial killer, foreign spy or CIA agent, nine times out of ten who you know probably won’t make an interesting character. Now you can put traits of people you know into your characters but most likely people you know in real life wouldn’t be very interesting in a story. Focus on creating dynamic characters from your heart. Creating a person is the best part of fiction to me.

Misconception 5: You Have to Like Your Characters

No you don’t. I’ve written plenty of characters I didn’t like.  That’s what made me care more about them. I loved that I disliked them and the kind of people they were. It meant I did a darn good job creating a well-rounded character. Think of how you interact with people in real life. Aren’t there people you don’t like for whatever reason? Isn’t there someone who gets on your nerves or pushes your buttons and you might not even know why?  You wouldn’t expect to like everyone in real life would you?  Of course not so don’t feel you have to like your characters to create interesting ones. How you feel about your own characters has nothing to do with the price of tea in China. Make those characters jump off the page and into the hearts of readers and you’ve done your job.

How to Write Fiction with George Wier

Author George Weir discusses the ins and outs of writing fiction. And he happens to be a fellow Texan, yaaa! He  hails from East, Texas where my mother and father grew up! How cool is that?

Check out George’s Amazon Author Page and learn more about his books!

Book Spotlight #1

I will be posting a list of writing books every so often for newbies as well as veterans.

You can find all these books on Amazon.

Note: I am not endorsing these books. I haven’t read them. I am just posting them for possible resources for writers to check out. To check out writing books I have used and enjoyed, check out the books in my sidebar. I highly recommend each one of those.

Fun to Write Fiction: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Your First Novel by Donna Monday

Gotham’s Writing Workshop: Writing Fiction by Gotham Writers Workshop

Grammar Girls Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty

The Moonlighter’s Guide to Online Writing for Immediate Income by Connie Brentford

The 411 on the Effectiveness of Book Signings

So you’re wondering if doing a book signing in 2012 is worth it to you. Well I can’t answer that but I can tell you that you definitely do not have to do book signings to be effective at selling books. In fact book signings are probably one of the worst promotional options right next to purchasing ads. There are tons of things you can do to promote your book that will get it in front of readers better than a book signing.

But, I’m not saying you shouldn’t do them. It’s up to you as an author and whether or not it’s worth it to you. Book signings aren’t worth it to every author but if you intend on doing them there are things you should know.

 Book signings Do Not Sell Books

That’s right. So if you plan on doing them, don’t make selling books your priority because you will be disappointed at the end of the day. Book signings are for meeting and greeting readers (if you’re lucky enough to get them to talk to you) and make the most out of that face-to-face experience. But they are not the best way to sell books. And whether doing book signings gets the word out to people outside of the venture remains to be seen.

 Have an Outgoing Personality Because You’re Gonna Need It

Look you’re not JK Rowling. You’re not even Harold Rowling from down the street. When your butt gets in that bookstore no one is gonna give a fig newton. You’ve gotta drive people to your table and hold them hostage some kind of way. So if you can’t turn on the charm most likely your book signing will be a bust.

I sense that this is why most authors end up just sitting behind a table for two hours, mean-mugging customers that pass them up. Who knows?

 This is where that thick skin really comes in handy.

 Book Signings Do Nothing for Long Term Sales

Even if you sell a book, that’s it. It’s in the past and there’s no record of it. This is why so many authors prefer online promotion. With the Internet you leave pieces of yourself everywhere. You can reach thousands of people from all over the world from a blog tour alone. So remember that if you do pursue book signings, don’t count on it bringing sales for the long-term.

Don’t Expect Your Publisher to Promote The Event

Don’t even waste time wondering if your publisher is gonna help out with promoting the event because they won’t. Those days are over. Some publishers might help but the majority will not. Some publishers won’t even book the signing for you. Most likely you will be completely on your own.

 If Ya’ Broke, Don’t Go

I hate to see authors who don’t have a pot to pee in, using their money for signings and events. Look these things are a luxury. If you can afford them, fine but everyone isn’t able. Publishers used to pay for authors to appear at events but that’s not how it happens today. Book signings can be expensive if you plan on doing them out-of-town.

You’re better off promoting online and saving your money. No one expects you to starve to go to a book signing.

Bookstores are Dying Out

That’s a huge monkey wrench right there. The closing of Borders and a lot of indie stores was a horrible blow to the industry. It also limited places for authors to sign books. Don’t think you can just call up Barnes and Noble and book a signing like in the old days. No. Now you have to prove to them you’re worth the effort by promising a certain amount will show up before they even think of working with you. Some bookstores have stopped doing signings altogether or only allow them for very popular authors.

 Ask Yourself: Do People Even Go to Book Signings in 2012?

When’s the last time you’ve heard of someone you knew saying they went to a signing? I mean in the last five years?  I bet it’s not many and if you weren’t around the writing crowd it would be none at all.  People aren’t going to book signings these days. Book signings can’t compete with all the other events out there today. And the people who go to book signings go to see the new author sensation, not the unknown with the debut novel. So really, really ask yourself how many people you know who go to book signings and weigh whether or not it’s really worth it.

I’ll be honest. I’m not a fan of book signings. I think they’re torture. I think festivals or signings where you are with other authors could be more beneficial.

The point is that you don’t have to break the bank or run yourself ragged going to book signings if that’s not what you wanna do. They don’t make or break your book. If you wanna do them and enjoy them, by all means do them. But authors should not feel they have to, especially in an age where it’s so hard to get people to participate.

What sparked this topic was an old blog post from Karin Bilich. Now mind you, she wrote the following post in September 2011. You can check it out below. I feel she was spot on back then so you can imagine how things have changed in almost a year.

Karen’s post:

What do you think? Are book signings still relevant? Do you feel there are other methods that are better at selling books?

Mark Coker’s Message to Self-Published Authors: Don’t Limit Yourself

I don’t understand why some self-published authors limit their readership by not putting their books in as many stores as possible. I just can’t grasp the knowledge in this as an author and as a reader.

First off, I read self-published books. I try to support all authors. But I feel like readers like me who have devices other than the Kindle and Nook are ignored. I have a Sony Reader so I can only get titles from the Sony Store or sites like Smashwords that have books in all formats.


Why would an author want to limit themselves? Your books should be in as many places as you can get them.

I’m reading Mark Coker’s The Secrets of Ebook Publishing Success and apparently a lot of SP authors never read it because a lot only have their books on Kindle.  I just can’t figure out why this seems sensible from a business standpoint.

On top of that these are some of the same SP authors who are complaining about a lack of sales. You have to remember that when you chose to self-publish you became a business. You are no longer just a writer. Would you wanna sign with a publishing house that only distributed to one store? No. What sense would that make right? So why would you limit your own books?

Some authors might think since they are selling well on Kindle that means they don’t need other markets. Wrong. If you are selling well on Kindle imagine how much more you would sell on other places. Sure sometimes it might seem like it’s not worth it to be on other sites but that’s not good business thinking at all. You also have to have patience.  Not all sites bring in fast results.

Anyway what difference does it make if your book doesn’t sell well on a certain site? It could one day.  It’s best to be there than not. If you’re not there then you certainly won’t sell at that store.

You and your book needs to be everywhere for you to have the best shot.

Mark’s talks about how putting your eggs in one basket can screw you out of becoming a potential best seller. Think about that. If you have your books in a ton of stores, then you never know when you will break out in a particular market. You are giving yourself more chances to succeed when you put your books in a lot of places and more chances to fail when you don’t.

And think about your readers. Do you really think the average person wants to read books off the computer? No. So why wouldn’t you wanna please as many people as possible? Sure Sony Readers and other devices might not get mentioned as much as the Kindle but there are a lot of people with these devices.

And don’t think that readers will just download the Kindle-for-PC and the Nook-for-PC and be satisfied with that. Why? Because most people are like me, they don’t want to read off of a computer screen.  I have the KPC and NPC and I only use them for samples of books. I don’t use them for my primary reading and I refuse to sit in front of a computer and read. That’s not relaxing at all for me and I read books to relax.

If you use this knowledge for not putting your books in more places it seems more like a cop out and it’s unfair to your readers.

It’s hard for any author to gain readership. Don’t limit yourself by cutting off your nose to spite your face. Remember you are writing for readers. Put your books where they can get them.

If you haven’t read Mark’s book, read it.