7 Things I've Learned So Far, by Amanda Flower

This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,” where writers at any stage of their career can talk about seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning. This installment is from writer Amanda Flower. Amanda Flower is an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland. Maid of Murder is her debut novel and the first in a series.
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This is a recurring column I’m calling “7 Things I’ve Learned So Far,”where writers (this installment written by Amanda Flower, author of MAID OF MURDER) at any stage of their career can talk about writing advice and instruction as well as how they possibly got their book agent -- by sharing seven things they’ve learned along their writing journey that they wish they knew at the beginning.

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Amanda Flower started her writing career when she
read a story she wrote to her sixth grade class
and had the class in
stitches with her description of
being stuck on the top of a Ferris
wheel. Amanda is
an academic librarian for a small college near Cleveland.
Maid of Murder is her debut novel and the first in a series.

See her website here, or find her on Facebook or Twitter.

1. Friends and family are great marketers. The best way to sell a book is through word of mouth. Chances are you have friends and family living all over the country. Why not put them to work? Don’t forget these people care about you and are excited about your book. They will be thrilled to hand out bookmarks or suggest the book to their local libraries to purchase. Don’t be afraid to ask them for help.

2. Make your bookmarks stand out. Every author has bookmarks. When you go to book conventions or author conferences, you may feel like you’re drowning in them. In the sea of bookmarks, make yours stand out. Readers will be more likely to pick them up when there’s a little something extra. I added a tiny silk flower to my bookmarks. It was easy and inexpensive, and my bookmarks flew off the freebie table while others were ignored. Sure, my last name is “Flower” so it wasn’t too hard for me to think of an idea to jazz up my bookmarks, but you’re creative and will think of something.

3. Make friends with librarians. Most libraries have book talk programs in which authors can visit and speak about their book. Offering book talks are great ways to connect to readers and endear yourself to librarians. If you bring patrons into the library, it’s likely the librarian will purchase all your future books too. Not to mention, library book talks are another place to sell books. It varies from library to library, but many libraries will let you sell books after you speak. Be sure to check with the library before you try to sell anything there.

4. Suggest an alternative to buying the book. It’s a tough economy, and even though readers may want to, they might not be able to buy your book. Instead of going for the hard sell, let them know about copies available at the local library, or if the book isn’t held by the library, ask them to suggest it. Librarians love to get suggestions for purchase from patrons because they want to buy books that they know their patrons will check out and enjoy.

5. Join a group blog. A group blog is a great way to reach readers you may not reach otherwise. However small, each author has his or her own following of readers. These are especially helpful if you join a genre specific blog because you know most of the readers are interested in the type of work you write. If you can’t find one to join, get some of your writing friends together and create one. Group blogs are easy to run and another free way to connect to readers.

6. Join or create a writers’ group. A writers’ group is great way to connect with fellow writers, who face and understand the same challenges you do as an author. As much as your family and friends want to sympathize with you about the ups and downs of being an author, no one understands it better than another writer.

7. Don’t chase the market. Don’t write for the market because you will always be chasing it. Write what you love. Create characters you care about. Eventually, the market will turn your way.

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