From reader to writer in a few keystrokes. Now what? What are my goals as an author?

 A few keystrokes...

Okay, that sounds easier than it was. But it's how my dream started, how every dream starts, by putting one foot in front of the other. Or in my case, tapping one key after another and not stopping until I had 120k words. That's the first part of any goal: starting.

But then what? Starting and finishing a novel didn't accomplish my goal of being an author. If my 120k words stayed in my computer instead of venturing into the world, then it would really have been a journal. In order to be an author, I needed readers.

So the question for me was...
How do I get my words in front of readers?

And no surprise, every time I do an interview, I hear that and many of the same questions from readers and aspiring authors. I can't claim to be an authority in the subject, but I do love what I do and I'm always excited to answer questions, so here is my suggestion on that question and some of the other questions I get. If I don't hit yours, please ask in the comment section.

Should I self-publish, publish with an ePublisher, or wait until an agent picks me up?

Well, I don't know if there is a right or wrong answer, but here's what I suggest, which is a four-part answer.

·       I think every author should query. Why? It can't hurt. If you're lucky, professionals--and that is what successful agents are--can offer you valuable feedback. Most won't. Most will just say it's not right for me. But when you get that agent who's not afraid to go out on a limb and make a suggestion, listen to her. You don't have to accept everything, but you should be willing to listen.

·       Depends on how many stories you have in you. If you have only one great idea, you may have to wait on an agent. I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, and I'm not saying there's not a chance to be successful as an Indie author with one book, but it is hard. If you have only one 'great' idea, you may need the advertising budget that only a large publisher can provide.

·       How quickly do you want to get your books out there? With most agents and big publishers, you should expect to wait a year to eighteen months until your book hits the shelves, whereas most ePublishers will usually have your book edited, formatted, a cover designed, and published within six months.

·       And lastlyself-publishing, more than ever, is a viable option. However, DO NOT forget that you have to act as though you are a publisher. You CANNOT skip steps. You MUST make sure your book is properly edited, formatted, and has a professional-looking cover BEFORE you publish.

Should I hire an editor?

Yes, yes, yes! This shouldn't even be a question. The question should be: whom should I hire? Ask around. Word of mouth is a great way to find an editor. Ask questions. What books have they edited? Get a return date, and do not pay all up front.

Is social media important?

I think so, but not because it'll sell books. It's important because of the connections you make with readers, reviewers, book bloggers, and authors. Yes, authors. Never forget that authors are readers... Connect with authors who write and read the genres you like to read and write. It only makes sense that if authors like you, so will their readers. That's how you expand your reach when you don't have a budget.

Should I offer my books free or at a discount?

Yes and No! Yes, giving away your first book free for a temporary time is a great way to meet new readers, gain reviews, and expand your platform. A discounted book, on the other hand, does little to reach a large amount of readers unless you already have a platform.

Should I write a series?

Yes, but please make sure that each book is complete. Don't split one book into two or three books and leave a cliffhanger. Ugh!!! Readers--I'm a reader, so I speak with authority--hate that. Yes, you can offer a new 'dun, dun, dun' moment at the end, but the first issue must be resolved. Then yes, series are a great way to meet and keep readers. And when you have a series, offering the first book free or at a discount makes sense because you have other books to back it up.

Can I write in different genres?

Yes, but be careful. I wouldn’t write young adult and erotic novels under the same name, but if you warn your readers at the top of your description that this book contains paranormal elements (for example), then if they don’t like paranormal, but love you, they may be willing to take a chance, but not burn you if it’s not their style.

So here I amjust a baby, really, since my first book was published only two years ago. Of course, I had four books waiting in the wings when my publisher picked me up, so I was able to publish nine books in these last two years (two of them were short stories too).

So, I’m wonderingwhat’s next?

What’s my goal now that I’m a published author? Surprisingly, selling more books to make more money IS NOT my goal. If it were, I wouldn’t give away my best seller, She Belongs to Me. Having my book in the hands of millions of readers, though, is my goal. As a writer, I think we can all agree that nothing feels better than readers reading your work. So that is my goal...don’t laughI know it’s a lofty goal…

My goal this year is to be on the New York Times Bestseller List or, at minimum, be on Amazon’s top ten ‘paid’ bestseller list.

Is it possible? I don’t know. I know it’s not impossible. And I see only one way to get there. In simpler terms, my goal is to publish Book Two and Book Three in my Creatus Series and publish Book Six in the Southern Suspense Series. That’s three books in twelve months. Yes, I can do that. My goal leads me to the last question I hear all the time…

How do I sell more books?

I know some authors hate this answer, but from what I’ve seen, when you don’t have a big publisher backing you, the only way to sell more books is a two-part answer…

Write Better Books and Write More Books! reach my goal, I will do my best to make sure my books continue to get better. 

Whatever your goals, I wish you a healthy, prosperous, and above all, happy new year.

Happy New Year and Happy Reading!

Carmen DeSousa

Thank you for stopping by my place and reading my musings. Remember these are just my opinions and shouldn’t be taken too seriously. If you have questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments, and I promise you I will answer.  If you’re curious about what I write, please visit my author page, where you can read all about my novels and short stories.  And hey, I’ll even give you a free book just for stopping by. As always, happy reading, friends.

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