Writers In The Storm welcomes Tara Lain, a public relations and advertising executive who makes use of her promo savvy to promote her second career, writing erotic romance.
A lifelong writer of serious non-fiction, Tara didn’t fall in love with EROM until 2009 and, through perseverance and hard work she had the first novel she ever wrote published in January of 2011. She capped off that same year by being voted Best Author of 2011 in the LRC Awards and had her Genetic Attraction Series named runner-up for Best Series of 2011!
When we heard her talking about media and self promotion at our Orange County RWA meeting, we knew our readers would love hearing how she shot her writing career straight to the top in just a year’s time.
Special thanks to Writers in the Storm for inviting me today. I brought my soapbox and will climb up on it because I want to talk about an aspect of promo.
Many authors have a love/hate relationship with self promotion. Others have a hate/hate relationship. Every hour you spend in promo is an hour you aren’t writing. But the fact remains that there’s not much point in writing if there is no one to read your books.
Some authors say the best way to get an audience is to write a great book. I would argue back that writing a great book is a good way to attract a bigger audience, but first you have to make people aware of you as an author.
That’s where promo comes in.
I am an e-published writer of erotic romance. My success lives and dies online. In addition, I’m a public relations and advertising professional in my day job so when I started writing romance all my instincts said “help people get to know you.”
The first thing I did was blog.
Recently I’ve heard some writers say that blogs are dead. All the good blogs have been done. Boy is that a bad excuse for not doing promo. People might as well say all the good books have been written so why write one. There is always an audience for an interesting blog.
There is, however, one excuse for an author not to have a blog. If you honestly hate the idea so much that you know you won’t keep your blog up, you’ll neglect it and let it go for months with no posts, then don’t start a blog. But be a wildly active Facebook participant and newsletter hound to make up for it. Or consider joining a group blog where all the responsibility doesn’t fall on you. (I belong to a group blog too.)
A blog is an author’s home base.
You might say, “Isn’t my website home base?” Only if your blog is on your website! A website, no matter how good and how frequently changed, will never be as dynamic as a blog.
A blog allows an author to talk to readers directly. Even when hosting other authors, your personality and interests shine through.
A blog is a place to invite your readers to participate in your writing life. You can host blog hops, blog tours, contests. Invite other authors you admire, write about subjects in your genre. Cheer when you get a great review. Cheer somebody else’s great review. And of course, post nibbles from your books.
- Authors scream “what do I write about? I have nothing to say.” Nonsense. Imagine you have to make your living as a non-fiction writer and need to come up with short articles to keep food on the table (because in a sense you do). My new release is about a witch. I am blogging about the history of the witch trials, what male witches are called, black cats and why they are associated with witches. I’m also blogging about writing sex scenes, why my heroes are so beautiful, why read a male/male romance, how covers influence book selection, and a lot more.
- How often should you blog? I blog two to three days a week on two blogs. Many authors blog every day. A blog is a living document and you want people to routinely check back for new content. As a general rule, if you can’t post once a week minimum, don’t start a blog. But writing blogs every day isn’t necessary. You can Instead, try scheduling blogs for a week or more in advance.
- Promote your blog on Facebook and Twitter. If you are a real blogaholic, join Triberr and increase the number of people who visit your blog exponentially (but you have to be willing to post often to get the benefit of Triberr). [Triberr help]
- Develop a mail list (how to do that is a subject for another blog) and promo your blog posts.
- Join Blog Hops and drive lots of people to your blog.
- Start blogging BEFORE you're published. I started one of my two blogs about six months before I was published. I knew a publisher was interested in me, but I didn’t have a firm commitment yet. I started my blog mostly focused on other authors I liked plus fun posts on kissing and such. I used my newly selected pen-name and slowly built a following. Then I hopped onto other social media after I sold my book. By the time my first book was released, I had the number one bestselling book on my publisher’s website that week, which was a big deal for a brand new author.
- Have fun with it! While not quite as interactive as Facebook or Twitter, a blog is a conversation. It’s personal and people can comment back. Enjoy it.
Stepping off the box now. As you can tell I am an unrepentant promo fanatic. I have seen so many things accomplished in my own writing life (like being named Best Author of 2011 in the LRC Awards) and in the careers of other writers that I directly attribute to promotion.
It would be so wonderful if publishers and agents would handle all of that for us, but the fact is that we live in a social media world and social media is personal. Even if publishers promoted new writers, we would STILL have to do self promotion because readers know the difference. So take a deep breath and embrace the blog.