Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Guest Post by Author Shanna Swenson with GIVEAWAY!

The Importance of Networking as a Self-Published Author, who has no clue what they just got themselves into…

“Well, I hit the publish button,” I tell my husband as I turn from the computer I’ve been glued to for the last day and a half. My hands are shaking, my shoulders are stiff and my brain is totally drained. 

“Wonderful, honey. I’m so proud of you,” he says and comes over to me for a quick kiss. 

“Thank you. Now all I have to do is wait.” 

We, self-published authors, have all been here. The moment of reckoning. The book has been “published” and is now awaiting review before receiving an email that our book is “Live”. It’s a surreal moment and a profound one at that. 
The question then is- now what? 

Now what, indeed. We’ve spent countless man hours going over and over our work with a fine-tooth comb. Writing, editing, revising, re-writing… Our betas/proofreaders/editors have given us their feedback, and we’re well on our way to getting it ready for the world to read.

There are about a thousand things we’ve done as we prepare for our book launch. Copyright, get our covers designed, made up and released, update our blogs and social media posts, send off those ARC copies, receive feedback, get posters/bookmarks made, line up book signings and events, drink lots of coffee, lose lots of sleep, miss multiple meals… But here is the moment of truth. We have made it to this stage, and our book is one step closer to being released into the world. It’s majestic! Like a beautiful breath-taking butterfly exiting its cocoon, it will soon be out and fluttering its wings among the millions of other butterflies flying around. 

So, what separates our butterfly from the rest of its kind? Sure, it’s gorgeous and its wings are shiny. It’s new and a true sight to behold. But we must get it into readers hands now. Get people interested in reading it. How do we do that?
Aside from advertising and marketing your book, which are extremely important avenues of their own, there’s one key step that isn’t highly talked about among us indies. And that’s networking. 

Networking is essential to connect with your fellow indie authors and readers. And it isn’t really explored much among the pounds of research we’ve dug through over the years as we prepare to have our books published. It’s also completely under-rated. Yeah, we are told- Build an author platform. But what does that mean if you don’t have the support you need from fellow indies and don’t have anyone backing you up? 

That’s where networking (connecting) with others comes into play. A lot of times your fellow indies become your readers too. And they become your biggest fans as well. Majority of us are readers as well as writers, so keep that in mind. 

Here are a few of the things I have learned over the short time I have been a self-published author. 

-Get your name out there: Expand your reach. Get on Goodreads, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, etc. If you aren’t already on social media, get on there. But don’t just post and forget it. Interact with people and fellow authors. Join groups and forums, and get to know other authors and readers. Yeah, your book picture looks great with that Valentine’s Day heart background. It’s perfect. You’re getting likes and RTs and shares and comments. But you see a fellow indie whose book is equally as beautiful next to a bottle of wine and box of chocolates. Tell her! Comment that her hard work has indeed been noticed by you. Support your fellow indies. 

-Give without asking FIRST: We all have our books pinned to our pages. They get seen, just like we see books of others. A lot of times I get an instant DM once I’ve followed someone to RT or repost their work or to buy their book. (Yes, we all have!) But seriously? I don’t even know you. Why are you sending me a message to buy your book? That seems a bit preemptory, don’t you think? Sure, we want our books to sell, but you seem to be going about it the wrong way… You haven’t even interacted with me at any point in time, so why should I buy your book? Always give first before asking for something in return. Don’t make yourself seem so desperate. We are all on the same team here. We all want our books to be read and reviewed but take a step back. You see a beautiful blue book on IG with a tiger on it or a lovely unicorn and read the excerpt an author took the time to type out on there. You like it? Reach out. Say hi. Tell them how interesting their book looks to you. Volunteer to read and review it for them. Oh, wait, you’re too busy? Well, guess what? They are too! We ALL need and love reviews, especially ones we don’t have to beg for. Nine times out of ten, they want to return the favor. And even if they don’t, maybe they know someone who loves dark romance and boom, they are going to tell that someone about your book… Look! You’ve just made a friend. Was that hard? No. 

-Don’t be shy: But you’re an introvert, you say? Guess what? A good bit of us writers are. Join the club. We have a t-shirt around here somewhere. Doesn’t mean you have to be shy on social media (wink wink). You see a game on Twitter that you aren’t tagged in, but you’re cracking up at the GIFs this fellow author is putting out there. Get in there and interact. We all have something to connect us. She’s from Green Bay? You’re a Packer fan. That’s perfect! He loves the Harry Potter movies, and you do too. There’s always something you can use a conversation point. Next thing you know, you’re GIFing back and forth and enjoying yourself so much that you start truly having a connection with this group of people and boom, you’re all in a DM together and sharing your stories and making lasting friendships. So, don’t be shy- Interact. 

-Promote others works: And lastly, don’t be afraid to share! You enjoyed that book on angels and demons so much, and your review was killer, so why not promote it? You have a website with a blog you don’t use for much else. Blog your review of it and share it on your social media platforms. It’s a win-win for both you and the other author. You get exposure, she gets exposure. Yeah, so you only have 1k followers on Twitter and 500 on IG and only a handful of subscribers to your newsletter. The thought and drive are there. You’ll get more. But only if you get yourself out there and start connecting. So… what are you waiting for? Go. Network, my friend. You’ll be glad you did!

Shanna Swenson is the author of the Abundance series, adult contemporary romance novels that showcase the healing power of true love in the face of dark tragedy. She began writing at the age of fourteen. Shanna lives in Georgia with her husband of three years. She performs cardiac ultrasounds by day and writes every chance she gets. She fits her zodiac sign of Cancer to a T and enjoys the simple things in life. Shanna is an avid reader of good books that thrill, chill, and warm her heart. She loves supporting her fellow indies and when she’s not writing her next novel, she likes to travel, watch movies and pro-football, hike, practice Yoga, and hang out with her own “knight in shining armor”.

Her debut novel, Abundance, was published in September 2018. Book two, Return to Abundance, just premiered in January. She is currently working on the prequel to Abundance, Starlight Valley, which launches on March 9th and Book three in the six-part series, Escape from Abundance, will launch this summer. 

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