Guest Blog and Contest with Delia Latham: I Sure Wish I’d Known

Author Delia Latham is my guest on today’s blog, sharing her publishing wisdom for those of us still on the road to publication. She’s also hosting a two contests for her birthday; full details follow blog entry.

I Wish I’d Known Then What I Know Now

Probably a cliché statement, but oh-so-true on so many levels. When I think of it in terms of the publishing industry, I can’t help but utter a hearty, “Amen!”

As fledgling writers, we tend to think all we have to do to succeed as a writer is to write. I suppose that’s true, if all one wants to be is a “writer.” But to be a published author, much more is required. Successful writers are also publicists, marketing gurus, media spokespeople, public relations specialists … and the list goes on.

I didn’t know all that when I started submitting books for publication. I didn’t know all that when my first book was accepted for publication. I didn’t know all that until that book was in print, and the harsh reality stared me in the face: Someone has to market this baby!

Most publishing companies take on the lion’s share of marketing. Some I could mention do very little other than print books. Either way, an author who wants more for her book than to die a lonely death in the library burn pile will learn a few marketing, advertising, PR and speaking tricks—pronto! Otherwise she may as well write an obituary for that title right along with the book itself.

Am I exaggerating? Not even a little bit.

Here are some things I wish I’d known before I wrote my first book:

  1. Not all companies who call themselves publishers are legitimate.
    Thinking about submitting to a publisher you’ve never heard of, one who doesn’t have a recognizable, respected name in the industry? Do yourself a favor and research them. A simple web search should turn up enough information to let you know whether they’re legitimate or not. Do they pay an advance? ($1 does not count as an advance…) Do they pay a royalty? Do they help market the book? Are there complaints against them online…or elsewhere? Check with the Better Business Bureau if you can’t information anywhere else. And if you find there is NO information about them, that too is cause for a red flag as is finding tons of complaints and breach of contract accusations.
  2. Speaking skills are a huge bonus to an author. Don’t like to speak in public? Honey, get over it. Find a Toastmasters group or take a public speaking class. Find a topic in which you can be considered something of a pro—your area of expertise—and start developing a speaking platform. Many books are sold at speaking events, and it’s also a tremendous way to build name recognition. Yes, it’s possible to be successful without being a public speaker, but this skill can be a huge tool in selling an enormous number of books.
  3. Marketing skills are necessary. I’m not suggesting you have to get a marketing degree. But do start learning how to promote yourself and your title. Read books on the subject. Research it on the Net. Visit blogs on the subject. Develop a marketing plan, even before you submit your manuscript—many, if not most publishers will ask for it. What do you plan to do to help get the word out about your book? Will you hire a publicist? Hold book signings? Send press releases to your local media? How about a blog tour? So many possibilities…and yes, a tremendous amount of work is involved. Are you willing to do it?
  4. Unless you’re a Nora Roberts—or even Stephenie Meyer—one or two…or even half a dozen published books isn’t likely to make you rich. Chances are good, in fact, that you might sink more money into marketing those first books than you’ll earn in royalties. Look at those debut works as tools. Every book an author writes hones his/her writing skills and increases name recognition within the publishing industry. With each published title, you’ll learn more about writing and about marketing. Just don’t be discouraged if your first book doesn’t make you a celebrity, or start a nationwide craze (. Twilight). It happens…but it’s the exception, not the rule.

These are four things I wish I’d known prior to publication, but didn’t—and they’re only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my lack of knowledge. With several books in print, I still consider myself a fairly new author. I have so much yet to learn about this industry.

But these things I have learned. Maybe my trials by error can help some new author avoid the same snarls and tangles and embarrassing moments I endured. Perhaps, through my own learning experiences, some other writing newbie won’t have to write an article titled, “I Sure Wish I’d Known…”

Delia Latham’s latest book, Kylie’s Kiss released from White Rose publishing in April.

Born and raised in a place called Weedpatch, Delia Latham moved from California to Oklahoma in 2008, making her a self-proclaimed California Okie. She loves to read and write in her simple country home, and gets a kick out of watching her husband play Farmer John. The author enjoys multiple roles as Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. She loves to hear from her readers. You may contact her through her website or send an e-mail to delia AT delialatham DOT net.

Latham’s backlist of published novels includes: Goldeneyes (2008, Vintage Romance Publishing); Yesterday’s Promise (2010, White Rose Publishing); Destiny’s Dream (2010, White Rose Publishing, Solomon’s Gate Series, Book 1); and Mine! (children’s picture book, 2011, Vinspire Imaginations). Kylie’s Kiss (Solomon’s Gate, Book 2) released in April 2011. Book 3 in the Solomon’s Gate Series will also be available in 2011, with release date pending.

Find out more about this author at:

Her website: www.delialatham.net
Blog: www.my-book-bag.blogspot.com
Newsletter: www.bookshelfnewsletter.blogspot.com

Check out my interview with Delia on Examiner.com


CONTEST INFO:

  1. The 1st PRIZE (Oil Bottle Necklace and Oil) will be announced on June 28th. Winner will be drawn from comments left on all the blogs up until midnight on June 27th.
  2. The FOUR BOOK WINNERS will receive their choice of the following books:
        Destiny’s Dream (pdf)
        Kylie’s Kiss (pdf)
        Morning Rendezvous (print) (This is a self-pubbed book of devotions/inspirational musings
    Book winners will be announced the morning of July 1st. They will be drawn from comments left on all the blogs up until midnight on June 30th.

Good luck to all who enter. You have  several chances to win. Just leave a comment on any of these blogs before the deadline:

Donna Basinow: http://donnabsnow.blogspot.com/

Pamela S. Thibodeaux: http://pamswildroseblog.blogspot.com

Lena Nelson Dooley: http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com 

Barbara Hartzler: http://barbarahartzler.com/

Linda Wagner: http://onedesertrose.wordpress.com/

Anne K. Albert: http://piedmont-island-trilogy.blogspot.com

Tracy Krauss: www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.com

Robin Bayne: http://wwwwritingbetweensundays.blogspot.com

Edwina Cowgill: http://www.musingsofedwina.blogspot.com/

Susan Hollaway: http://susanhollaway.blogspot.com

Patty Wysong  (June 27-28): http://www.barndoorbookloft.net

Elizabeth Johnson: http://www.lizjohnsonbooks.com

Shellie Neumeier: http://shellieneumeier.com/

Liz Tolsma: www.liztolsma.blogspot.com

Teresa Slack: www.writersrest.blogspot.com

Rose McCauley: http://www.rosemccauley.blogspot.com/

Jeannie Campbell: http://charactertherapist.blogspot.com/

Nike Chillemi: http://crimefictionandfaith.blogspot.com/

Jo Huddleston: http://johuddleston.blogspot.com/

Clare Revell: http://telscha.blogspot.com/ 

Andrea Strong: http://andreastake.blogspot.com

Phyllis Wheeler: http://www.phylliswheeler.com/blog/

Elaine Cantrell: http://www.elainepcantrell.blogspot.com

Cheryl St. John: http://cherylstjohn.blogspot.com/

For the full and complete list of blogs and contest info visit Delia’s blog:

http://www.delialatham.net/blogblitzjune27th.htm

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8 Comments

  1. This is an excellent article. It takes this an more. Even having a background in sales and marketing isn’t enough to get my name out there sufficienly. I was published by a small publisher–his 2nd book. He has as hard a time getting books in stores as writers have getting an editor to read their manuscripts. I don’t know who really makes money in this business.

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  2. Barbara, I so appreciate you hosting Kylie and me today! Looking forward to chatting with you and your readers. Tom, I guess it comes down to the fact that, while making money would – of course! – be an amazing plus, most writers write because they love to write…they have a story that simply must be told…or they have a message the world needs to hear. God will get the book into the hands of the people who need to hear that message – and that in itself is rewarding. 🙂

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  3. What a great interview, Delia! Yeah, who would have guessed writers had to do more than write! (As if that doesn’t take enough time!) But I gotta tell you, I love your characters! You bring them to life! I can’t wait to get further into Kylie’s story!

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