Sunday, September 4, 2011

Self-Publishing--What Works--Networks

In my twelve or so years of writing fiction, I've developed many networks with other authors. Some of these networks are only one or two people. Others have hundreds of authors and are still growing. Some of these networks go back to the beginning of my writing career--my first writing class/critique group and my local chapter of RWA, Orange County, California--and another is less than two months old--a yahoo group of self-published romance writers.

These groups have women (and some men) who are pursuing a writing career. They are eager to learn the craft of writing, publishing, and promoting, and to share their knowledge with others. These people have learned that helping other authors also helps them.

I once heard New York Times best selling author, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, say at a conference that other authors are NOT your competition because a reader will read your book and immediately want another book. They might speed through your backlist, and then what? You won't have another book out for six months or a year. What are readers going to do in the meantime? Read other books. Will that stop them from reading yours when it comes out? No! The only thing that will stop (some) readers from buying a favorite author (or checking the book out from the library) is if that author produces one or two not so good (or even bad) books.

Therefore, it's important not to see other authors as your competition, but as your support system. I can't even count the various ways, big and small, that I've learned from or received support from other authors. I've developed some true and wonderful friendships. Some of these women (and one man) I rarely (if ever) see in person. My success is without a doubt due to other authors, who've been teachers, mentors, coaches, friends, promoters, and supporters.

I wouldn't be a self-published author if I didn't have a network that actually has a name, the Wet Noodle Posse, composed of authors who were RWA Golden Heart finalists in 2003. Many of these ladies have become dear friends. About four of them started self-publishing before me and sharing about their success. Because of that information, I resolved to self-publish as soon as I finished writing The Essential Guide to Grief and Grieving and turned it in to my editor. If it weren't for my WNP friends, I might not even be aware of self-publishing yet. I cringe at the thought.

Other friends and acquaintances from my writers' networks have given me so much information about self-publishing and promotion. They've bought my books (Wild Montana Sky and Sower of Dreams) promoted them on Twitter, Facebook, or their blogs, invited me to guest blog, reviewed my books, or swapped chapters with me. They've also recommended my books by word of mouth. Some of these things I requested, but many came spontaneously.

Most people who are in my networks know that I will do the same for them. For example, last week, I had a wonderful talk about books with Donna (whom I'd just met at a job function.) We found that we're both huge readers with a lot of favorite authors in common. When she told me she likes time travel romance, I recommend WNP friend, Theresa Ragan, another self-published author. I almost fell out of my chair when Donna told me she'd already read Theresa's books and loved them, especially Return of the Rose. By the end of the conversation, Donna had written down a list of my self-published friends and intended to go buy their books. I'd also asked her to write a 5 star review for Return of the Rose, which she has.

A few minutes ago, I wrote an email to a fan. This fan wanted to know when Stormy Montana Sky was coming out (late November.) In my email (among other things) I recommended Caroline Fyffe's books because her Westerns have a similar tone to mine. I told him that Caroline's books (out in a few weeks) could help tide him over until Stormy is out.

If you go through my blogs, I've sprinkled my friends' names and links to their books. Some have done the same for me. Maybe one of these days, I'll write a blog that just list my friends and links to their books. :)

After I write this blog, my next task is to check out a list of the self-published books from members of one of my networks, perhaps to buy some, but certainly to add checks to their tag boxes.

So you see, the GIVE and take of networking can be both personally fulfilling and of benefit to your sales figures. When you're promoting your books, think of how you can also promote others. I promise you'll reap the rewards.


  1. Enjoyed the blog, Debra. Nicely done :).

  2. I agree completely with this philosophy! You said it so well here. Thanks for reminding us about your blog. :-)

    Regina Duke (with the strange LJ handle)

  3. Julianne and Regina, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    For those who tried but couldn't post comments, thanks for the attempt. I have no idea how to fix the blog.

  4. You're right, Debra. You've been very helpful to me. Despite having sold 90 novels, I'm a newbie when it comes to reissuing my books in digital format. I love your blog!
    Jacqueline Diamond
    author of How to Write a Novel in One (Not-so-easy) Lesson.

  5. If you only know Jacqueline Diamond's contemporary romances, you'll have to check out her self-published Regencies. I'm definitely enjoying them! :)

  6. Debra,

    Very much appreciate the writers networks that I have, especially OCC, and meeting YOU through there!

  7. This is so true about networks and the positive place they have in our lives. Great post!

  8. What I liked most about this post -- and it's saying a lot -- is the writing itself. Your prose is limpid and lean.


  9. Thanks, Mia!

    Ray, I have to admit I had to look up the word limpid because what I thought it meant didn't fit in the context of your comment. Thanks for the unusual compliment and learning opportunity.

  10. Debra, I am busy promoting my first self published book-I'm the first among my writing friends and they are looking to me to learn it-oh boy! Your blog is a wonderful discovery, I'll be reading it regularly! Do you have some tips for starting your blog also? I need to do that!
    Robin Nolet
    The Shell Keeper (on Amazon!)

  11. Robin,

    I'm the worst blogger. Before starting to blog about self-publishing, I wrote anything I wanted about once or twice a month. When I started writing about self-publishing, people wanted more, so I'm basically sticking to that theme with other things thrown in. I have had a lot to say, so I'm posting more often.

    You probably need to decide if you're blogging for readers or writers.
    Readers is probably best. Pick a theme. That sometimes helps, too.

    John Locke has an interesting take on his ebook about selling over a million books. You might check him out.