Monday, January 24, 2011

Guest author Donna Hill: Beyond the Book

Donna Hill began her writing career in 1987. Her first novel was published in 1990. Since that time she has more than 50 novels to her credit. Three of them were adapted for television. She has received numerous awards for her body of work including the Zora Neale Hurston Literary Award, The Trailblazer Award, The Emma, and the Romantic Times Career Achievement Award among others. Donna lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Spend My Life With You
, her latest release, is available wherever books are sold.

As a writer, you spend hours, days, weeks and months researching, writing, plotting and planning. You have an idea for a novel that you want to share with readers. You put your heart and soul into it. Often you sacrifice time with family and friends and time for yourself. Finally one day you write, “the end.” The sense of accomplishment (and relief) defies explanation.

If you already have an editor, you turn your precious baby over and pray that it will be treated with care. If you self-published, you have to find and editor, a printer, and a means to distribute your book. Now you can take a breath. Your book is written, your story is told. All of those hours, days and months have paid off. WRONG. The real work has just begun.

Writing the novel is the easy part. Getting it the attention that it deserves is where the real work comes in. Whether you go with a traditional publisher or strike out on your own, marketing and promotion will be the difference between your “masterpiece” being read by hundreds of readers or just your best friends and family.

Even after having been in this business for more than 20 years, for me it never gets easier. With each book the same amount—and sometimes even more—effort and enthusiasm goes into the promotion of the book.

With the book market being so tight and so competitive and continually changing, as an author, if you plan to be successful you have to keep working long after the last page is typed.

If I had my way, I would just write my books and stay in my room. (As quiet as it’s kept, I’m really kind of shy). But I know that if I want to keep being moderately successful at this writing thing, I have to keep doing the work. So I’ve put together a list of things that I have found to be terribly important:
  • Build your contact list. Think of all the people that you know, starting with family and friends. Get email and snail mail addresses when you go to events.
  • Get a good-looking, functional website, easy to navigate. Not one that looks homemade with ads on the side. Wordpress has great templates.
  • Secure your domain name. Domainrooms is a good source and inexpensive.
  • Get business cards. Try Vistaprint. You can get 500 for a few bucks. Keep them simple. Name, contact info (email, website). Getting business cards with a picture of your book is cute but limited. Get cards that will work with the next book you are writing.
  • Join some of the online book clubs. Contribute to the conversations. Don’t just show up when you have a new book, or only post when you want to promote yourself.
  • Set up your Facebook account, Twitter, Shelfari and Blog.
  • Plan to attend literary events. (Pick and choose wisely. You can’t be everywhere)
  • Find out what bookstores are in your area. Make sure that they stock your book. Offer to do a stock signing.
  • Stay in touch with your readers.
  • Tour on a budget! Do virtual tours. They are great ways to be all over without leaving home.
  • Open a Skype account so that you can “visit” book clubs online.
  • Open a account to record readings from your novel to upload to your website.
  • And while you are busy promoting your new baby, get to work on its sister or brother. If you’ve written a great book and promoted it well, your readers are going to want more.
Good luck!

Donna Hill


Charles Gramlich said...

Great advice, and if it sounds like work, that's exactly what it is.

Jewel Amethyst said...

I had all the misconceptions you listed. I thought all I had to do was write my book and the publishers do the rest. I thought it would get easier the next time because of name recognition.

I'll be the first to admit that I was wrong. Thanks for sharing those tips.

SY said...

this is great advice... can't wait to begin this journey, sound treacherous but rewarding

good luck
- Sy

Liane Spicer said...

If I had my way, I would just write my books and stay in my room. (As quiet as it’s kept, I’m really kind of shy).

Hear, hear! Me too!

Great advice, Donna. Thank you.