Friday, December 12, 2014

The 10 Faux Pas To Avoid In your first year as an author.

The Top Ten Faux Pas To Try and Avoid.

The learning journey is an exhilarating experience, but it is fraught with potholes and potential traps to bring you down, if you aren´t careful. Although, making mistakes is part of the process, you can minimize them by reading about other people´s experiences. I have just spent my first wonderful year in the book publishing world and I thought I would share part of my journey with you.

‘ making mistakes is part of the process …’

Faux Pas 1- Publishing your book before you have seen a marked difference in the quality of your writing.

All skills need time and practice to perfect. If you care about producing the best work you can, then don´t rush into publishing, or you will regret it further down the line. You must be disciplined enough to accept the fact that you need some training before you are able to go public, very few of us, if any, are born with instant talent.
Faux Pas 2- Using Dear Sir or Madam.

Surprising as it may seem, this generic way of formally addressing bloggers does not go down well with many. Bloggers appreciate it if you have taken the time to look around their blog and find out their name, although, some I feel make it particularly challenging, in order to test you.

Faux Pas 3- Sending a proposal to a blog of a different genre.

This is such an easy trap to fall into, especially when you’ve come across a list of fifty bloggers and you feel like you have to contact as many as possible, as quickly as you can. Getting caught up in marketing madness happens because you meet so many other authors doing it. It is not until you have been in the writing world for a certain amount of time that you begin to form relationships with the real professionals and you learn that less is actually more. Take the time to look at each blog and only target bloggers who may have a genuine interest in your genre.

Faux Pas 4- Posting generic E-mails.

These are easily spotted and discourteous. It takes a little extra effort to personalise a mail, but it is not a waste of time and is appreciated. You can include phrases like ‘I notice you mentioned an interest in…….’ to show that you have actually read some of the blog and profile page, or ‘as mentioned on your blog…’ You can still keep the bulk of your professionally drafted letter, it only takes a minute to reword it a little.

Faux Pas 5- Self-promoting in FB groups that don´t allow it.

This happens when you unwittingly fall into the whirlwind of self-promotion practiced by so many, even successful authors, and you become convinced it is the right thing to do. It is not! You may have spent the last few weeks searching for FB groups that could be interested in your book, and you might even have been smart enough to find some that may indirectly be connected with your story. However, having two hundred different groups should not make you too busy to bother reading their policies before you post. You will be forgiven at first, but then you will be blocked and lose friends if people see you have no respect.

Faux Pas 6- Responding to negative views.

I actually made the mistake of wanting to explain myself kindly and intelligently to a reader who left a negative review, in the hope of changing their mind. Don’t do it, or you risk walking headlong into a minefield, from which you will leave more bruised than you were before. In my case, I just gave a hater more opportunity to hate. Even if you did enter in contact with someone nice, who didn’t like your book, you would most certainly do more harm than good. And it works both ways, I do not recommend contacting strangers and thanking them for a nice review, either- too much contact with people, who do not invite it will have a negative impact, and could distance you from a potential fan.

Faux Pas 7- Misusing Google+ (An ongoing conundrum for me).

Google+ communities take their rules and policies a lot more seriously than FB groups, and in my experience they are a lot less tolerant of newbies. The main problem here was leaving links to my blog with what I thought were interesting articles, or quotes that I had invented. They didn’t like that. But, if I’d written down what I had seen, it would have been plagiarism, no? It seems that some people are averse to anything that even smells, or could be interpreted as self-promotion, so make sure you read their policies before posting. I still haven’t worked out how to use Google+ correctly, I am still finding my own wall filled with repeat posts, which I have sent to different places, and it looks very spammy. Any advice there would be greatly appreciated.

Faux Pas 8- Using certain templates to design your book cover.

I actually made a good cover using an old photograph and the CreateSpace cover design tool, which received a lot of positive feedback. However, I came across a site offering fantastic templates to make your cover look professional and stand out from the rest. Big mistake. The first person who used the template probably had great success, but by the time the fiftieth person has used it the marketing agencies have become bored of it. BookBub were actually very kind and explained that this was the reason they had turned me down: they’d seen the template before somewhere and it didn’t look original enough.

Faux Pas 9- Separating FB accounts.

With the best intentions, and still in newbie status enough not to know about the various privacy settings available, I thought my friends and family were being inundated with my book promos. So, I decided to create two FB accounts and save them the time I imagined they spent, having to delete all the repetitive messages. All I managed to do, was upset the people that cared about me and alienate them from most of my writing life. Luckily, my friends are starting to creep back onto my business account and getting involved again, but it was not a pleasant experience.

Faux Pas 10- Don’t Beat Yourself Up.

Making mistakes is called learning. Reflect on the error and move on to continue your wonderful journey as a writer.

©2014 Gerald Freeman
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