TO SPECIALIZE, OR NOT TO SPECIALIZE?Written by Mary Anne Hahn
Okay, so you've decided that you want to write for fun and profit, and not necessarily in that order. Perhaps you've already abandoned your day job to pursue your dream of full-time writing life, or maybe you just want to test waters part-time until you have guts (and money) to jump in with both feet. In any event, you've decided that you want to start your own writing business.
You head for nearby library, rush to your favorite bookstore, or jump onto Web to see what other writers are doing. And you find that there are so many opportunities "out there" for writers, it makes your head spin. "Make a Gazillion Bucks as a Copywriter!" gushes one book title. "Big Profits From Short Pieces!" promises another. Book after book, web site after web site, take you down pathways paved with gold, fortunes made from writing everything from greeting card verses to computer manuals. Your excitement builds.
Although some ideas appeal more to you than others, it is tempting to want to dabble in them all. Let's face it, we writers are a creative lot, and eschew thought of being tied down to a particular type of writing. Who wants to churn out press releases all day, or catalog copy, or annual reports? Variety, after all, is spice.
Besides, why close yourself out of several money-making opportunities by concentrating on one? Couldn't you be a sort of one-stop writer, a one-size-fits-all kind of scribe, able to satisfy whatever kind of customer calls upon you for your services? Why limit your customer base or market to a certain kind of person, or company, or publication, when you could peddle your skills to whole world?
I subscribed for years to this very line of thinking, and my writing resume shows it. I have published over a dozen non-fiction articles, put together a newsletter or two, created a few radio spots, won a short story contest, developed training manuals and revised job descriptions. I've written telephone scripts, business correspondence, procedure documents and users' guides. I am first person my friends think of when they need a resume, and yet those same friends also expect that I'll someday produce a string of romance novels. So I've had a versatile writing career, yes. A lucrative one? No.
You're Published! Now How Do You Tell The Readers?Written by Michael LaRocca
The first thing you must do is quit thinking like a writer and start thinking like a reader. That shouldn't be a problem, because you are one. If you don't enjoy reading, you can't write something that someone else enjoys reading. So, when you read, how do you choose what to read?
My wife can walk into a bookstore, look at cover blurb of a book, conclude "I'll like this," and buy it. Then she'll read it and be correct. Every time.
I almost never do this. For me, it's word of mouth. It's book reviews. A good reviewer tells me enough to decide if I want to buy book. I've rarely been led astray by a reviewer.
I suspect that, if you look at your own reading habits, you're like me. You find new authors to read based on book reviews. Once you find one you really like, you buy everything else he/she has written and snatch up every new one as it comes out.
So there are your goals. Number one, write well enough to keep those readers coming back. Number two, get those reviewers to say "Hey, this author writes very well." Meaning, contact those reviewers.
You want to be reviewed as much as possible. Walk into any bookstore, log onto any e-publisher site, or visit Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Guess what you'll see? A whole lot of books. If one of them happens to be yours, how will people notice it?
Your publisher will market your book, of course, but they market all their titles equally. What you want is for a potential reader to walk into that shop or log onto that site with your name and title already in his or her head.
Your publisher will submit your book to reviewers. I don't know about quantity, but reviews (even negative ones) generate sales. Work with your publisher to ensure everyone is covered. Also make sure you don't both send same book to same place because that's just plain embarrassing.
If you'll swing by http://free_reads.tripod.com/bookreview.html you'll find a list of book review and author interview sites. Mostly electronic but a good print selection as well. At this writing there are 111 of them. When your book hits shelves, if not sooner, visit every dang one of them. Write to everybody and see what happens. It'll take you about ten hours.