Oct 4, 2011

New Website for RechelleOwens.com

As of 10/1/11 I have moved my blog to a new host. Please visit my new website at http://rechelleowens.com.
rechelleowens.com on Wordpress


Sep 16, 2011

The 3 Biggest Marketing Mistakes Authors Make

There is nothing worse than having a great book that is well-written sitting unpublished on your computer, or having a well-written published book sitting on the shelves not selling.

If you find yourself in either of these positions, you are not alone! More than likely, the problem is that you have made one or more of the three most common author marketing mistakes.

1. Failing to market yourself and your book, or not marketing early enough!
2. Failing to utilize available marketing tools, or not using them properly.
3. Failing to follow through to keep your marketing momentum going.

If you are guilty of making any of these mistakes, or all of them, have no fear. You can turn your your situation around!!

Let's take a closer look at each mistake and the solution:

1. Failing to market yourself and your book or not marketing early enough!
The first thing that comes to mind for many authors, especially new authors, when working on a book is completing it, not marketing it! There's plenty of time for marketing later, they say, and don't give their marketing plan another thought until after the book is completed and in the submission process, or until after the book is contracted.

Others try to put off marketing their book onto the publisher, mistakenly thinking that marketing it is not their responsibility, they are writers not marketers!

But succumbing to these lines of thinking in today's market is a bit like cutting off your nose to spite your face as my Great Aunt Ida used to say!

Readers and fans are faced with hundreds of new titles being released each and every month, and are much more apt to purchase works from authors who they are familiar with, or who have been recommended by other readers or authors. And, it takes time to build up social relationships and to make yourself known.

So when is the best time to begin developing and enacting a marketing plan? The moment you decide to write your first word.

Agents, editors, and publishers often go online and google authors who have submitted manuscripts to them. They are looking for authors that have already established a following, because this indicates that there is already a market for the author's work established that can be built upon. After all, they have a lot at stake in the success or failure of the books that they publish.

2. Failing to utilize available marketing tools, or not using them properly!
In some of the writing groups I belong to, I am amazed at how often I hear fellow authors make excuses for not marketing themselves and their books. Two of the excuses I hear the most often are:

a) Marketing takes too much time!
b) I don't know how!

It is true that marketing yourself and your books does take some time, but it is time well spent if done properly. After all, nobody will buy your book if they don't know that you or it exist! Effective marketing helps to build visibility and awareness of both you and your books.

There are tons of resources out there that can show you how to effectively market yourself and your books. Here are a few places to start:
The Creative Penn
Author Marketing Experts Blog
Marketing tips For Authors
Author Insider
Author Marketing Ideas
The Savvy Book Marketer
Self Publishing Coach

These resources can guide you on the most effective ways design an author marketing plan and on how to use a variety of free and low-cost resources and tools to begin building your author platform.

3. Failing to follow through to keep your marketing momentum going.
Another all too common mistake that some authors make is that they start off strong but then start floundering after a few months. I have been guilty of this mistake myself.

The key to effective marketing is to continually and consistently be utilizing available tools to build and grow your author platform. Remember, as a writer you are an entrepreneur and business owner with a product to sell. And like any other business, marketing your product is a necessity if you want to be successful.

So take a moment to review your are in your marketing, what tools you have available, and what actions need to be taken to get your marketing back on track.

Stay tuned for my upcoming series of marketing posts where I will be sharing some of the most common free and low-cost marketing tools and tips to use them effectively to build a successful author platform.

Don't miss any upcoming posts. Get updates via RSS!


Sep 15, 2011

The Contemps: Lessons from a Literary Agency Internship

I came across an interesting post over at The Contemps blog.

It details the experience of 21 year old college student, SM Rosenberg, during a summer internship at a Literary Agency over the summer. Check it out!

The Contemps: Lessons from a Literary Agency Internship


Sep 14, 2011

Rechelle's Diary: 9/14/11

Dear Diary,

I just heard Christmas mentioned in an email I received this morning informing me that there was only 104 days left before Christmas! It's too darn early to be thinking about Christmas!! We're not even officially into Fall yet.

This week is the first full week since May that temps have been out of the 90's. I'd really like to enjoy some long-sleeve shirt weather before I have to start thinking about snow and Santa Clause!!

But then again I have been wanting an Ipad and the soon to be released remastered Star Wars DVD set!!


Sep 11, 2011

Rechelle's Diary: 9/11/11 - Remembering 9/11

Today as the activities of life were buzzing on around me, I wanted to stop and take a moment to remember those who lost their lives in the Twin Towers terrorist attack on 9/11/01.

As I write this, this incomprehensible attack still seems fresh in my memory. I can feel tears welling up in my eyes at the thought of the thousands of people who were killed by such pointless violence, including 411 emergency rescue workers who had responded to the scene.

On the morning of 9/11/01, I remember being awoken from my sleep shortly before 9 am to a panicked voice on the other end of the phone screaming at me to turn on the television. The heart-wrenching emotion in that voice assured me that something terrible had happened. I reached blindly for the remote control, having only gotten a little more than one hours sleep after working a long night shift. I flipped on the television and could hardly believe what I was seeing. Smoke was billowing out of the North Tower and the anchor was saying that a terrorist had crashed a plane into the building. For several minutes, netiher myself or my friend on the line said anything. The news had shocked us both into silence.

I remember flipping through channels trying to get more information and hearing that other planes had been hijacked as well. Then just when it seemed that it all might be over, another plane flew into the South Tower. I was filled with such a horrible sense of uselessness as I sat and witnessed the event from my sofa, powerless to do anything but watch.

A few minutes later there was coverage of at least one, and possibly two hijacked planes, that were possibly headed towards the Capitol. The whole incident seemed so surreal.

A few minutes later my pager started going off. I was being called back to work as a precaution after a terrorist activity alert was received by my agency that other cities could also have similar incidents occur.

Still stunned, I put my uniform back on, strapped on my gun and badge, and reported for duty. I was later told that both buildings had collapsed and that another plane had crashed into the Pentagon. Thankfully, the terror ended with those four planes; however, I remember the heightened alertness and sense of worry and dread that hung heavy in the air that day and for weeks afterward as we anticipated the possibility of more terrorist acts.

It was one of the worst times that I can remember in my lifetime, and I pray that nothing like that ever happens again. My thoughts and prayers go out to the deceased family members on this day of rememberance, and may those persons who lost their lives on that fateful day never be forgotten.

Aug 2, 2011

Another Sad Goodbye: L. A. Banks (Leslie E. Banks)

New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author, Leslie (L.A.) Banks, best known for her Vampire Huntress Series, passed away on August 2, 2011. She is the second dear friend in the writing world that has passed away in the last few months.

Leslie had a firecracker personality and will be greatly missed by her fellow writers, fans, family & friends. Her family will be holding a memorial service for Leslie in Philadelphia.

Find out more about Leslie.


Jul 14, 2011

The 10,000 Hour Rule: Is This The Key To Becoming A Better Writer?

For those of you who haven't yet heard of the 10,000 Hour Rule,  it states that it takes approximately 10,000 hours of deliberate practice to master a skill, any skill.

That means that it would take 10 years of practicing a skill 3 hours a day, or 5 years of practicing it 6 hours a day, to become expertly proficient. 

While I am not convinced that becoming proficient really requires 10,000 hours, the premise behind the rule certainly does make sense. The more time we spend doing something (ie: perfecting it), it stands to reason that we will become more adept at that particular skill.

Writing is no exception. The more I write and the more I blog, the more comfortable I get doing it. With experience, I have found that it is easier to pull information to write about and to generate new ideas. I have also managed to become more proficient with Blogger and Wordpress, website design, HTML & CSS coding, and using Social Media networks. 
I can also see great progress as I move forward with my writing, compared with my earliest essays and blog posts. I am fairly certain that as I continue writing in the future, I will continue to grow and become better at the craft of writing.

The question then is whether my skills come from continued practice, or am I innately gifted and talented at the art of writing? I love to write and always have. Crafting stories is something that I began doing in my early childhood days and have always been good at it. Writing and storycrafting just come naturally to me.

So, could the reason that the 10,000 hour rule seems to work is that only people who are genuinely interested in and talented at something will put in the time and effort required to become proficient?  

I don't know the answer to that question, but I will say that having a desire to do something, combined with practicing that skill to increase your proficiency, certainly seems to be the winning combination.

I know for instance that I will never be a mathematician. Why? Because I absolutely hate, hate, HATE, math! It is something that I always struggled with, and never performed particularly well in. To be honest, I really don't think that even with 20,000 hours of practice (not that I could ever force myself to contribute 20,000 hours of my time to such a boring and nonrewarding endeavor), that I would ever be proficient enough at math to call myself an expert. I may be wrong on that, but I doubt it!

So, I guess I would have to say that the real key to becoming a better writing is a combination of talent, passion, and practice.


Jul 6, 2011

How to Finish What You Start: A Five-Step Plan for Writers

As I was reviewing some other author's blog posts last week, I came across an excellent post by Ali Luke of Aliventures. Ali is a writer and writing coach.

The post, "How to Finish What You Start: A Five-Step Plan for Writers" described me to a tee. I am that person who has a drawer full of unfinished manuscripts with more ideas coming each and every day, and the person who has had multiple blogs around the internet that have just sort of fizzled out. I have always been a starter and not much of a finisher when it comes to writing.

So imagine how offended I was (at first) when I read Ali's step #1 which states: Stop starting new projects!! My first reaction was one of immediate resistance, "But, I am a creative person. Having all these new ideas makes me feel alive!"

As I kept reading, I realized that Ali wasn't telling me to quit having ideas, just to stop trying to act on each and every one of them! Hello!! How easy is that! Just stop trying to enact them all! It almost made too much sense.

Her suggestion is to create an idea file where ideas can be jotted down to be revisited at a later time after you complete current writing projects.

I was simply amazed at how this first step hit home for me. I have always believed that if I had an idea, that I needed to jump on it and get started it with it immediately. As a result, I always ended up going Mach 10 with my hair on fire trying to juggle everything I wanted to get accomplished. This led to a quick burnout, and caused many of those great ideas to be left dangling incomplete for weeks, or months, or even years.

It never once occurred to me in all my years to just stop beginning new projects! Which leads to Ali's second step: Assess Your Current Projects.

In this step Ali encourages us to organize all of our current incomplete projects. For me this meant really taking some time to sit down and review each and every unfinished project and evaluate it for plausability. Is this project or idea something that is still relevant? Can I envision where I want the project to end up, and can I complete it? Maybe, the project is one that is no longer consistent with the direction that I want my writing to go.

Ali suggests to divide up your writing projects into three categories:
  • Active Projects - these have a definite purpose and still excite and inspire you
  • Dead Projects - these are no longer consistent with the direction you want to go and can be let go
  • Dormant Projects -these still hold promise and you want to complete them in the near future
It is very hard to let go of ideas that seemed so promising when they first came to me, but I am only one person, so I realized that I just had to let some of my writing projects go that weren't in accord with my current writing mission and purpose. Once I decided to do this, I felt like a huge weight had been lifted off my shoulders.

For me the hardest part of this process is the third step: Choose One Project To Focus On. I have spent so much of my life having way too many irons in the fire, that it was hard to imagine focusing the majority of my time and energy on just one writing project. On the other hand though, this step makes so much sense, that I was embarrassed that it had never dawned on me before. After all, the easiest way to finish something is to just keep working at it consistently until you are done, allowing few distractions to get in the way.

So it was at this point in the process that I made an agreement with myself to dedicate myself to completing the paranormal romance manuscript that I have been intermittently working on over the last 6 months or so. With the exception of maintaining my two blogs, I am not going to write on anything else until my first manuscript is finished.

Finished. Just thinking about finally having an end product to show to the world makes me feel almost giddy inside! But, how exactly will I know when it is finished? That brings us to Ali's fourth step: Decide What Finished Will Look Like. 

At first glance this step may seem sort of silly, but think about it. If you're a perfectionist like me, finished is a lot harder to categorize. If I am going to put my name on something and send it out into the world, I want it to be the very best creation that I can make. The drawback to this line of thinking is that nothing is ever perfect, and by trying to get something perfect, I could drag the manuscript on and on indefinitely.

So I came up with two guidelines that will help me determine when my manuscript is "finished."

First, I will not edit any of the manuscript until the final chapter is complete.

Second, I will only allow myself two rewrites at maximum before I send it off to an agent or publisher.

Once I have completed those steps, then it is time to move on to the next writing project and only revisit the manuscript after a request by an editor for revisions.

Lastly, Ali suggests to Set Some Milestones (And Begin Hitting Them)! Setting small goals along the way is a great way to keep yourself motivated and to be able to track your progress. I think for my current manuscript, I will set goals of one chapter at a time.

I would just like to thank Ali for a great article. Reading it really has changed my perspective on my writing and hopefully by following her 5 steps, I will finish that first manuscript in no time!! Photobucket

Jun 7, 2011

Beloved Mystery Author Lilian Jackson Braun Dead at 97

The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers
Beloved best-selling author, Lilian Jackson Braun, died Saturday, June 3, at a SC Hospice center at age 97 after several years of failing health.

Braun published her first book in the hugely popular "The Cat Who..." mystery series in 1966 and retired from writing after publishing her 29th book in the series, "The Cat Who Had 60 Wiskers'" in 2007 at age 94.

"The Cat Who..." series delighted and entertained fans with the adventures of Jim Quilleran and his mystery solving Siamese cats, Kesko & Yum Yum, and her books frequented the NY TImes bestseller list and have been translated into 16 languages.

Natalie Rosenstein, Ms. Braun's friend and long-time editor had a deep respect and admiration of Braun. "She ultimately created a whole new chapter in the American mystery, and our wonderful working relationship spanned more than two decades. But most of all, it is Lilian the person I will remember — a strong, dedicated feisty woman who would always speak her mind and not be intimidated by anyone."

Ms. Braun leaves behind her husband of 32 years, Earl Bettinger who resides in Tryon, NC.

No memorial service is being held however, online condolences may be left at http://www.pettyfuneralhome.com/.

Rest in Peace Lilian. You will be me greatly missed.


Jun 1, 2011

Are You Using Kindle's "Before You Go" Feature Effectively?

The latest generation of Kindles (3rd and newer) have a "Before You Go" feature that can be a huge passive marketing tool for authors. The feature not only suggests additional books by the author and provides links for their immediate purchase, but it also allows readers to share an author's book with their social networks,and provide an immediate 1-5 star rating right from the device.

If you own one of these devices, please help promote your favorite authors and their books by rating their books and sharing them with your social networks using the "Before You Go' Feature.


May 31, 2011

Tags Deleted From Amazon E-books?

Amazon <TAGS> ... no more?

As I was perusing Amazon this evening looking through writing reference books, I noticed that the tags that were so helpful in helping me search for specific topics have mysteriously vanished. It appears that they are still there for paperback books, however. I wonder if Amazon is simply having some kind of technical difficulty or if e-book tags are gone for good.

May 30, 2011

WOW! Women On Writing Blog: Melissa Foster, author of Megan's Way, launches her blog tour!

WOW! Women On Writing Blog: Melissa Foster, author of Megan's Way, launches her blog tour!

Hop on over to WOW's blog and read Melissa Foster's interview about her book, Megan's Way, and how the book got adpated to film. Go show her some love and follow her tour this month for some great writing tips and chances to win her book!