By Chris Pepple, Writer-At-Large, Southern Writers Magazine
When I’m speaking to new writers (or authors facing writers block), I always tell them to keep on writing no matter what they are facing. We have to keep getting words down on paper. It’s who we are. The books we are writing are a part of us.
But continuing to write isn’t the only thing we need to do. We need to keep introducing ourselves to others. Building a career means we can’t stop networking. We need new readers, and we need new contacts in the publishing world.
The first part is obvious: we need new readers to keep buying our books. How do you expand your fan base? Sometimes I just step out of my comfort zone and walk up to strangers and hand out a few complimentary copies of my latest book. I look for people that fit the profile of who usually buys my books. I sell to more women than men, so I give the books to women. Sometimes I take a copy into a restaurant and find a group of women sitting together. Once I gave out copies to a few women on the beach already reading a book. Sometimes I find a small book club and offer to give out a few copies. I’m reaching people who would probably never hear of me without the free copy.
What about making new contacts in the publishing world? I think we all need to be expanding our list of contacts in our field. We may find opportunities to have an out-of-print book reprinted with a new press. We may find marketers willing to give us a plug if we advertise one of their books. We may be invited to write a guest blog post and include a link to our website, or we may find a fresh voice to help edit our next books.
Just this week, I saw a Facebook post from an acquaintance that mentioned she had started working for a small press. I asked if she was willing to pass along my contact information to her boss. She was more than willing to do so. Now my name is before a new publisher. Nothing may come of it now, but I may need someone to help with my next project down the road. I may have the chance to expand my career by shifting to a new position one day. I may get an offer for my next book or an invitation to speak at a new writing seminar. If nothing else, I now have a person who knows my name.
So, don’t stop writing, but also don’t stop introducing yourself. Hi, I’m Chris. I’m a poet and a novelist. I’m an editor and a speaker. This is who I am.