Thursday, August 13, 2015

A Few Things I Know

by Stacy Allen

I don't know everything, but I know a few things...        

It has been eight months since my debut novel, EXPEDITION INDIGO, launched. So much has happened since it released, it feels like eight years. I had a launch party, I have guest-blogged several places, I have met with book clubs, I have been on panels, and taught workshops, and guest-hosted on Facebook and Twitter parties, and had book signings. It has been a busy, busy, busy eight months. I am hoping some of my experience, and some of my advice, can help you in your journey to publication, or even in your journey as a writer, if you are already published. Here are some points to ponder:

1. Consider your book from every angle before you plan raffle baskets, SWAG, or promo materials. In my case, my protagonist is an Academic - an archaeologist, who leaves her comfort zone of Boston College to help salvage a shipwreck off the coast of Italy. I created themed raffle baskets: Beach, Italy, Travel, SCUBA, Archaeology, Survival Gear. You get the idea. I also made a decision to only have SWAG that was useful, and relevant. If you want some links to reasonable SWAG or some ideas, please email me and I will happily share my information.

 2. Make a list of questions you think (or hope) will come up during a reading/signing or an interview. Record yourself and see how your answers sound. Listen to yourself and try to capture the salient points of what you want the listener to take away and remember from speaking with you. I do not talk about subplots when I am being interviewed, as a general rule, unless I am asked a direct question about one. The subplots aren't on your jacket copy, so keep your discussion interesting and relevant, and vague enough to make the listener interested and intrigued. Write 3 salient points you want to make and put them on an index card, so if you get flustered or caught off guard, you can steer yourself back on track. What do you want people to remember about you, your character, or your book?

 3. Be grateful, and be kind. I know that sounds basic, but you would be surprised at how often I have seen a person who can't stop talking about his/her work, with no interest in the other panelists or what they have to say. It seems like a gigantic and scary universe to a hopeful writer looking for a place at the table, but this business is small. Tiny. Some of the nicest people I know are in this universe. We care about each other. We help one another. We promote one another. We respect one another. The writer who is arrogant, discourteous, or talks smack about others will find it to be a lonely place. Everybody knows everybody.

4. Never stop learning your craft. Work at it. Every single time you can, be the best you can be.

Stacy Allen is the author of EXPEDITION INDIGO , the first in a series, which debuted August 2014, and features Dr. Riley Cooper, a SCUBA-diving archaeologist. Her passion for adventure has taken her to over 60 countries. She is the current VP of Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America. She has been a member of International Thriller Writers for five years. She is an Advanced Open Water Diver, married and lives in the Atlanta area. Ms. Allen is represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.


Mary Anne said...

Hello Stacy! Great tips and advice. I need to purchase a few index cards. Loved Expedition Indigo.

Lynn C. Willis said...

Great tip on the SWAG, Stacy! In this day and age, you can't start thinking about how to market, merchandise, and promote too early. I like to think of it is product placement while writing HaHa!

Unknown said...

Great advice to write down 3 salient points you want to make, and also the tip about rehearsing/recording your answers.

Boston Clavering said...

Thanks for the great advice. I know this will help both budding writers and well-established authors.

Jessie the Jester Queen said...

I agree with what you're saying about letting others speak in a presentation! I've had the good fortune to be on panels with moderators who were trained to quash the "enough about me, let's talk about me" talk. And that's really important because I fear becoming this enthusiastic Jack Russell Terrier of a speaker who will launch in and forget to SHUT MY MOUTH AGAIN. I find it's so much more fun to learn about and from the others on my panel, and I'm grateful for those who are there to save me from myself! How was your swag received? Did it really draw attention? How did you organize it? I'd love to know more about that!