Today’s guest host is fellow Astraea Press author, Jo Grafford. She and I have chatted quite a bit about history (she’s a historical author too so we became fast friends!) and I’m thrilled to have her here on the blog today!
Without further ado, here’s Jo…
I’m so excited to be guesting here today on your blog, Christi! Many thanks for all of your mentoring and encouragement to me as a new author at Astraea Press, especially in that somewhat dreaded area of marketing.
Getting Published – It’s Just the Beginning
I believe I was born to write, because I’ve been writing in some capacity all of my life. As a kiddo, I illustrated my own stories with a rainbow array of crayons. As a teen, I wrote poetry, composed music, edited my high school newspaper, and typeset for a local news journal. As an adult, I created miles and miles of training materials and school curriculum. All career paths I tried have seemed to lead to the same end – writing.
Going on the road with my military husband in 2011 finally propelled me into taking my chances as a full-time writer. It took me exactly nine months (sound familiar, ladies?) to birth my first novel, BREAKING TIES, from first draft to final revisions. Then I spent the next few months submitting it to a handful of agents and publishers. I truly had no idea what I was doing at that point. I received four or five rejection letters, and two places didn’t respond at all.
Fortunately, my husband nudged me out of my writing cave and sent me to the RT Booklovers Convention in 2013 in Kansas City. There I had the opportunity to pitch my story to live agents and publishers. Every one of them was kind enough to ask to see the full manuscript of this stressed-out aspiring writer in a business suit. A few weeks later I signed a contact with Astraea Press.
Whoa! Have I learned a lot from the Astraea team – from owner to editors to artists and fellow writers. I had this picture in my mind that “getting published” was “it,” that once I signed a contract, I had “arrived.” Oh my. I arrived, yes, but only to discover it’s just the beginning of a whole new adventure.
I happen to have published my debut novel during a time of monumental change in the publishing industry. Reader habits are changing, which are causing more and more companies to go digital, which necessitates changes in submission requirements. One of the largest evolutions, however, has taken place in the area of marketing.
It came as a complete culture shock for a social media virgin like myself to learn the newest ways to develop an audience. Gone are the days of aloof writers who have the luxury of spending the majority of their time writing. Today’s readers want to interact with their favorite authors.
Since my publication date on October 17, 2013, I’ve developed a web site, a Twitter account, an author Facebook page, and author pages on Amazon, Goodreads, Google+, YouTube, and many other sites. I’ve also learned how to guest blog, design book trailers, and write press releases. During this journey, I have met so many amazing readers and writers and other types of artists out there – including a truly gifted pop singer yesterday – and I look forward to meeting more each day.
According to the experts, this is exactly what a contemporary author platform needs to look like – except it needs to be far bigger than mine. I recently passed the 1000 followers on Twitter mark, and I’m looking forward to raising that number to 500,000.
A wee bit of reflecting back: I wish I had know what an author platform was before I got published, because I surely would have gotten started sooner on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, and so on. If you’re not published yet, these are the types of audiences I would start to build and cultivate. Right now. These “likes” and “follows” will turn into readers some day. I promise.
In the meantime, I research and follow the habits of the most successful writers I can find. That list most definitely includes our beloved Christi Corbett. Their biggest advice? Keep writing. Apparently the single best way to grow an author platform – in conjunction with the afore mentioned tasks – is to write more books. Yay! Because there is nothing else I’d rather be doing.
Jo Grafford is from St. Louis, Missouri. An award-winning author at Astraea Press, Jo writes historical fiction and YA fantasy. She holds an M.B.A. and has served as a banker, a junior college finance instructor, and a high school business teacher. She is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America and From the Heart Romance Writers RWA Chapter. The mother of three children and the wife of a soldier, she serves as a literacy volunteer for elementary school students.
YouTube Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/nBB8_qcG-9I
ROSE PAYNE’S world is shattered after a secret betrothal to the duke’s son ends up costing her job as a clerk in his father’s household. Without a letter of recommendation, Rose becomes an easy target for recruiters to the Colonies. Desperate for work, she signs up for a risky overseas venture and sails for the New World, hoping for a fresh start and vowing to never again fall for a wealthy gentleman.
Returning from a diplomatic tour in London, CHIEF MANTEO is bewitched by the fiery-haired ship’s clerk and determined to overcome her distrust. He contrives a daring plan to win her heart – one that forces her, honor bound, to serve as a slave to his tribe – a plan he prays will protect her from a chilling conspiracy involving murder, blood money, and a betrayal of their fledgling colony so terrifying it can only be revealed in BREAKING TIES.
Thank you so much, Jo, for sharing your path to publication story, and your great advice about platform.
What about you? What piece of advice have you received about writing that you found to be very helpful?