A guest post by my client, Tee Morris
It’s 8:15 p.m. as I begin work on this blogpost. We got snow today in the Nation’s Capitol which is still hard for all of us in the area to wrap our brains around. It is, after all, the first week of Spring. Tonight, our daughter decided to cop an attitude about dinner which sparked a familial confrontation, driving the nine-year-old-teenager to call me “a mean daddy.” I should mention she said this before I drove her to dance class. All this, coming on the heels of a textbook that I finished writing up for a Social Media Master Class for Writers that my wife Pip and I are teaching Friday. The “go” sign was given to the modest print shop to make a fistful of these teaching materials just after I received email from another client for my Social Media know-how. They were “not that impressed” with the curriculum I was offering his “experts” who, apparently, aren’t that expert to begin with seeing as they need me to come in and train them on better blogging strategy. All in all, it’s been a busy day.
Oh yeah, I almost forgot — Dawn’s Early Light, the third book in the award-winning Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, was released into the wild today.
Welcome to the glamorous life of a modern-day author.
I would love to say “Life goes on…” but this is the part where people think “Okay, the book’s out, let’s kick back, bury our toes in the sand, and drink Mojitos until the sun stops setting and the tide ceases to roll in and out.” While this sounds like an overture to a new Jimmy Buffett ballad and a wonderful idea, the modern-day author cannot do this. I’ve already written about the unbridled fear of what writers face every morning before a premiere, but here I’m going to talk about what you do after the book comes out. See, the hard part has only begun. It’s not writing the book. It’s not getting the book published. It’s getting people to buy your book.
Yes, young Padawan, your journey has only begun. In today’s modern world of the blue collar author, amidst the dinosaurs bemoaning technology and lamenting for the days of wine and roses, we young upstarts of science fiction, fantasy, and things that go boom in our books, are refusing to go gently into that good night. What you should have done up to this point, as the modern-day author, is build up anticipation and momentum on your title. You wanted to get people excited about your new book; and depending on how you look at the activity on your social media channels, you should be getting pinged hard and pinged often with activity and interactions. No matter how you cut it, a publisher has made a gamble on your latest work and on your series. They are expecting this gamble to deliver. This is what it means to be a professional writer in today’s publishing industry. The likes of Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and even the more modern sensations like J.K Rowling, Stephen King and George R.R. Martin never had to bother themselves with issues like market performance, analytics, and R.O.I. “Sure, take your time on writing that next book. We’ll be here when you want publish that bad bear.” It’s a different game now, Sparky. You can’t kick back and enjoy a few years between titles. You’re measured by your last book, and even if it’s been a day like it has been for Pip and myself, that last book now includes that one-day-old title currently sitting on the bookshelves.
It’s your job to get it off the bookshelves and into readers’ hands. What do you do?
Keep the Blogging Pace You’ve Set. The best thing about recent blog tours I’ve participated in has been the habit of blogging I’ve developed. I’m figuring if I can keep up the pace of two blogposts a week at TeeMorris.com and the Ministry blog, this will keep people tuned in to what’s going on with me and Dawn’s Early Light. The increase in post frequency, I know, has been working. Between February and March on the Ministry blog, we have seen a 400% increase in traffic, and my own blog has been enjoying its fair share of new visitors as well. I’ve just recently added Tumblr to my blogging platforms, so it’s time to play in a new arena.
Continue Podcasting Appearances. Something I’ve seen often with podcast tours is once the book is out, the promotion stops cold. Truth is the key time for promotion is a month before and a month after a book’s release. Make sure that when you schedule interviews on podcasts, you have some appearances reaching into the weeks following the book’s birthday. (I’ve got three interviews on the books, and am hoping to schedule a few more before the month is out.) With an additional month, you can keep your title on readers’ and potential readers’ RADAR.
Another promotional avenue that can be an ongoing venture, and not as aggressive as a media onslaught or constant bombardment of promotion, is producing short stories set in your works’ universe. Our own award-winning Tales from the Archives just dropped its third story of its third season. We have nine more planned. Free short stories in either digital or audio formats are a fantastic way to introduce new readers to your titles.
Continue to Post in Social Networks within Reason. This is a hard avenue to traverse because you don’t want to turn your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Google+ accounts into noise as enough writers tend to make this mistake. However, promotions on these channels are key. For every one promotional post, mix up your content with three or four other posts of either personal or community nature. That way, you are still active on your platforms and active in your communities; but not indulging in an “All About Me” party.
Maybe you’re wondering “When will I be able to write again?” You will. That drive to create eventually comes back; but while the month before a release date is important to the visibility of the new title, the following month is just as important to its success. These two months matter. Once the weeks slip by (and they will as I’m stunned that today was the day), you can scale back the posts about reviews. You still need to be visible, but less about the book and more about the author. As you move on and (hopefully) let the book continue without aggressive promotion, you need to strap in and begin work on the next project. As I mentioned before, you’re only as good as your last book. This means for there to be a last book, you’re going to need a new book either underway or nearly complete. Otherwise, your last book truly will be your last book.
So with the new title on the shelves, I’m suiting up for battle. I’ve got my ætherpistol set to “Confound” and my armored pith helmet secured on my head. Goggles are down. Time to get to work. My first step in post-release promotion?
Congratulations. You’re reading it.
Tee Morris has been writing adventures in far-off lands and far-off worlds since elementary school. Inspired by numerous Choose Your Own Adventure titles and Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, he wrote not-so-short short stories of his own, unaware that working on a typewriter when sick-from-school and, later, on a computer (which was a lot quieter…that meant more time to write at night…) would pave a way for his writings.
Tee has now returned to writing fiction with The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, written with his wife, Pip Ballantine. Their first title in the series, Phoenix Rising, won the 2011 Airship Award for Best in Steampunk Literature, while both Phoenix Rising and The Janus Affair were finalists in Goodreads Best in Science Fiction of 2011 and 2012. In 2013 Tee and Pip released Ministry Protocol, an original anthology of short stories set in the Ministry universe. Now in 2014, following a Parsec win for their companion podcast, Tales from the Archives, Tee and Pip celebrate the arrival of their third book, Dawn’s Early Light and launch a new venture—One Stop Writer Shop—offering a variety of services to up-and-coming and established indie authors.