Back when I had a soul, believed in God, and had hope in my heart I thought my writing career would look like this: I would write a wonderful novel and get it published. Dozens of publicists would then jam my book down the throats of every reader born and unborn. While they sold me, I would be working on the next wonderful book in the wonderful life of being a wonderful writer.
That Stephenie Meyer-esque fantasy didnít happen to me and it might never happen to me. I am going to have to work like most people. My debut novel, The Never Prayer, just came out, and I donít have a team of publicists. I have one, and I love Bree Ervin (www.thinkbannedthoughts.com) with a love thatís true, but I still have to work on marketing myself.
Below is a list of things that I wish I would have done six years ago when I truly committed to the writing game. Now, this list is going to be difficult, and for many, impossible. For me it would have been impossible. Because of fear. I was too afraid to do these things. Now, I have no choice. Like it or not, I am doing things, everyday, that make my heart race with terror. Iím a heart attack in search of a good cardiologist. And yet, every minute, I get stronger. Here is my list of things I needed to be doing six years ago:
1) Learn how to pitch your story and write query letters. Now that I have book out, do you know what I do mostly? Pitch my book. Most writers are not going to have a marketing department readily available to help them polish their pitches. We have to do it ourselves. Start now. And have different pitches ready. For the lovers out there, I say, ďMy book is about a young girl in love with a demon and an angel, but she canít tell the difference.Ē For biker dudes who love to read, I say, ďItís a love story with angels, demons, drug addicts, and atheists.Ē Learn to talk about your book. Youíll be doing that a lot.
2) Get on social media and sell yourself like youíre Amway and minutes away from your big, million-dollar bonus. Get on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, get a website, and just be friendly. Say hi. Approach other writers like skittish kittens. Pet them, soothe them, and offer them 2% milk.
3) If you are too scared to do the social media yourself, you can hire someone to help you. One good thing about most writers is this: they are poor yet helpful creatures. Find one and offer to pay them to help you. Usually, they will immediately begin weeping. I hired a writer friend to help me, Chris Devlin, and she is awesome and looking for more work! Drop her a line at www.chrisdevlinwrites.com.
4) Always have a project in the mail. Query, query, query. Practice your pitch and query. See #1. Always. If you are too scared to do this, get a friend and help each other. You can meet these writer creatures at writers conferences.
5) Go to writers conferences.
6) Gather email addresses and keep them labeled and available.
7) Read books on marketing and sales. Now. Today. Just one page at a time. While reading these books, even if you donít like the content, you can feel smug knowing you are a better writer than most of those schmoes.
8) If possible, find a product you love that is sold through Network Marketing and become a distributor. Most of these organizations are great, and it will be extra money to support your life-destroying writing addiction. Also, the sales training you get will be worth it. I have a Network Marking company I can recommend. See #12.
9) Get a critique group. Dodge bad critique groups. Get one that works for you.
10) And though your critique group might be awesome, you donít always have to listen to what they say. Be open, but sometimes, nod politely and walk away, knowing you are not going to make the heroine of your romance novel a Mormon werewolf with daddy issues. You like your heroine the way she is.
11) Read ďhow-toĒ writer books. Start with Robert McKeeís Story. It changed my life. I have plot now. Lucky me. You donít need to read them all at once. Just a page a day.
12) You donít need to do this writerís life alone. Yes, you have to write alone, but you are not alone. We can become rich, famous, and brilliantly talented together. I promise.
13) Stay alive and healthy. You canít write if you are dead. Hard to write if youíre sick. Eat lots of fruits and vegetables, drink lots of water, and exercise. And if you have trouble eating 9-13 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, email me. It just might save your life.
Six years ago I was incapable of doing my list of 13 (even the eating of fruits and vegetables eluded me). But you might be different. I hope to God, you have more courage, more faith, more hope than I do.
Yes, this might be overwhelming, but just do a little bit, every day. Just a little. Go out there, write, sell, write some more, sell some more, and love every minute of it. Including the parts you hate. Love those parts the most because thatís where the good stuff is. The easy stuff is easy. The hard stuff, thatís whatís going to turn you into a warrior. And writers need to have the heart of a warrior.
I have different steps on my website, and if you are anything like me, I needed those 12 steps before I could take these 13 steps. Come by and hit me up. Weíll drink some decaf coffee, munch some apples, and chat.
YA Paranormal author Aaron Ritchey has penned a dozen manuscripts in his 20 years as a writer. When he isnít slapping around his muse, Aaron cycles to look fabulous, works in medical technologies, and keeps his family in silks and furs. His first novel, The Never Prayer, is available now from Crescent Moon Press.
To learn more, visit his website at www.aaronmritchey.com
The Never Prayer:
Blown in on the winds of storm, two mysterious boys show up in Avalon, Colorado: one wants to save Lena, the other will try to destroy her. Fiercely independent, Lena thinks sheís already been destroyed. After her parents are killed, she alone must take care of her little brother and her mentally ill aunt. She does this the only way she knows howĖby living a life of crime and desperation.
Drawn into a hellish game of love and lust, Lena will have to walk the shadowy line between demon and angel, and in the end, the fate of her family and her soul will rest on the impossible decision she alone must make. Filled with dark tension, yet transcendent with fragile hope, The Never Prayer is a page-turning thriller that will keep you guessing until its final, heart-breaking pages.
For an excerpt, please hit the Crescent Moon Press website at http://www.crescentmoonpress.com/books/TheNeverPrayer.html
Or buy it here!