I still have so many pages of notes to share with you from the Romance Writers of America 2016 National Conventions. And I haven’t been sued yet, so that’s a good sign. One of my favorite workshops was titled Finding and Keeping Your Audience, with a handout available online. Because who wants to carry around a hundred sheets of paper?
Alisha Rai http://alisharai.net/meet-alisha/ and Courtney Milan http://www.courtneymilan.com/about.php were the instructors, both very good at public speaking, both from legal backgrounds. As such, they are excellent at focusing on details as well as the big picture.
The first question is: Who are YOU as an author? Not as a mom, an employee, a wife. As an author. You must be you, your brand, your voice, your words that describe your books and series. As an example, one of my personal favorites, Beverly Jenkins can be described as an author of historicals, focused on 19th century African American, who doesn’t take shit from anyone. She’s short, sweet, and sharp. Another author who attended the convention from New Zealand, Nalini Singh, can be described as an author of paranormal full of sexy alpha males with angst and damage, bonkers and diverse characters, from tight communities who achieve fated mates and found families.
You know when you pick up one of their books exactly the kind of read you will get. That pre-sells the novels to the fans. For Roxanna Haley, my alter ego, she is an author of humor and action with sexy character-driven plots featuring strong yet damaged women and historical alpha males.
If you have trouble verbalizing the common threads in your books, ask your friends or critique group to give you some words. You can even ask your significant other, your editor, your agent, or put it out on Facebook. If your book is up on Amazon, check the “Also Boughts” listed with it. If you haven’t published yet, check out similar types of books.
No common threads in your stories? Maybe your writing is all over the place, some serious, some kooky, some alpha males, some normal Joes. Or maybe you have so many pen names you can’t build a sense of community in your fans. Consider drilling down, reflect on which writing gives you the most in return, the most enjoyment, the most positive comments from readers.
By the way, I heard that David Gandy’s legal team is very litigious, so do not use his photos on social media. Or be ready to be served.
Courtney and Alisha provided this list of Dos and Don’ts:
Do not alienate readers. Don’t kill off kids, pets, or the MCs just after they get together at last. Seriously, that would totally ruin a book for me.
Do not take out your butt-hurt on Twitter. (My phrases, not M&A) Do not tweet No one bought Jane’s Cowboy Farmer’s Secret Space Ranch. Guess people would rather read trash.
Do not insult states! Send out love to My Texas Ladies! My Maine Fans! If you feel you have to comment on some legislature going on, tone your message to say, Hang in there, we’re all in this together! Then link to the legislature. Strong opinions are okay if you can be diplomatic.
Next, the ladies covered Social Media Myths. Someone you love, especially a candidate for some office or other, might scare away readers if you talk about it. You have the right to have that opinion. But maybe you don’t need to share it on your author pages.
Don’t always make choices based on what your readers will think or do. You are a person, not a robot. You do have to enjoy this. And some social media sites are better for sharing things than others.
We looked at packaging, because you know if you get a book that is written by Courtney Millan, it will be from an author who is a feminist, smart, heroine-focused, intersectional, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersectionality and distinctive. However, if you get a book written by Alisha Rai, it will be from an author who is a feminist, smart, heroine-focused, intersectional, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intersectionality and distinctive. Wait. Huh. So they show up in each other’s Also Bought lists. But that’s okay!
Book covers are key to your packaging. Beginning authors who self-publish often use common cover model pictures. That doesn’t say “Distinctive Book” to your potential readers. If the book is all about women, but no woman appears on the cover, you will disappoint readers. Make sure the cover matches the inside of the book. And yes, you can refresh the book covers periodically.
Amazon categories are the same as sub-genres. Find the best fit for you that doesn’t annoy people. Use common threads in keywords, blurbs, synopsis, and tweets.
A last thought on social media, if you are not sure about a statement you want to make, ask a friend or friends to review it before you send it. Ask yourself, “Do I have time for an argument? Well, do I?”
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.