I’ve Submitted My Book—Now What?

Linore Rose Burkard

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I’m privileged to offer you an article by romance author Linore Rose Burkard. She was my guest on Jan. 25, 2009. In her interview, she shared the story of how her Inspirational Regency, Before the Season Ends, which she originally self-published, was picked up by Harvest House.

Linore shares six strategic steps to building that all important Web presence. She’s proof her approach works, for that’s how she sold so many copies of her book that she captured the attention of her editor at Harvest House and landed her two-book contract.

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I’ve Submitted My Book—Now What?

By Linore Rose Burkard


First of all, if you’ve finished a book and begun to submit it to carefully researched publishers, congratulations! Most people never finish the book they dream of one day submitting. But don’t think your work is done. In some ways, it’s just beginning.

Assuming that you’ve written the best book you are capable of, your focus needs to shift from writing to establishing yourself online. This is not to say that you should stop writing. Once you submit your work, in fact, it’s a good idea to move right onto the next project, the next book. This keeps your creative juices flowing, and in the event a publisher does like your work, it won’t be long before they’re asking to see what else you have.

On the other hand, editors and publishers like an author to have an online presence, or platform. If it comes down to a choice of publishing only one of two authors, one of whom is well established on the web, and the other isn’t—chances are they will choose the one with a web presence. Why? Because the writer who has been networking with other writers, creating a website or blog, interacting with readers, and so on, will likely be better able to market her work once it is published. Better marketing leads to better sales, and, let’s face it, without good sales our publishers can’t stay in business! Authors today are expected to be partners in the work of marketing and promoting their books.

So, what to do? Where to begin? Here are my top six steps to establishing yourself on the web.

1.    Get a Website or Blog.

It’s best to have a website where you can post examples of your writing, book covers, reader testimonials, a media kit, and a bio, among other things, but if you can’t afford a decent website, better a blog than nothing.

Using a free blog hosting service like Blogger is okay, (it’s industry standard), but don’t use a free website where the host name intrudes on your domain name (i.e., JaneWriter@freewebs.com). You want your name (or pen name if you’re using one) to stand alone. After all, it’s your name as a writer that you want to impress people with, not your choice of web server. So, make sure you can get the domain of “JaneWriter.com” and nothing else. My website, for instance, is LinoreRoseBurkard.com. Period.

For your blog, it’s a good idea to use your name as well, particularly if you don’t also have a website. Your goal is to make it as easy as possible for people to find you on the web—if an editor or agent likes your submission, I can almost guarantee the next thing they’ll do is put your name in a search engine like Google’s and see what comes up. They want to know about you, the person they may be interested in publishing or agenting. If they have to jump through hoops to find anything on you—or worse, come up with nothing at all—that says you haven’t established a healthy web presence.

2. Get a Professional Headshot of Yourself.

A professional photo is an utter necessity for a writer who wants to be viewed as a professional. You’ll need this photo for your website, blogs, social networking sites, and just about anywhere you can set up a profile page on the web; not to mention your publisher will need it for promotional purposes, the back cover of your book, and perhaps their own website. This is not the time to pull out your favorite family vacation picture, no matter how good you think it makes you look! Unless it is a close-up of your head (face) and is very good quality, chances are it will broadcast to the world that you aren’t a professional—the very thing you want to avoid! So, even if you go to your local Walmart for the photo, get it done.

3. Use Email as a Tool

Another component of a professional writer’s arsenal is a dependable email account that reinforces their image. Don’t use Juno or other free servers unless they are very dependable and won’t suddenly cause your inbox to vanish, for instance, if you go over their quota.

Instead, your email address should reflect your professionalism. Don’t use a cute email addy to try and get a smile. If you want your name to be known, your email is another chance to get it out there—every time you hit the send button! My email for all business is Linore@LinoreRoseBurkard.com (through my website server). This tells recipients not only my name, but my website address.  Every email can also be a free advertising opportunity because you will craft a signature tag to function as one. My signature tag includes my full name, website URL, Blog URLs, and can also feature my book’s title, a phone number, or anything I decide to put in it. You can do this, too.

4. Start Growing a List

Whether you use a website or blog, you need to set up an “email capture system.” Don’t worry—they’re fairly easy to come by. This is the little box where people who visit your site can enter their email and sign up for your updates or newsletter. (Yes, you may have to start a simple newsletter!) Having a group of readers who like what you write, and sign up to get more of it is a big plus to publishers or agents. It means you’ve already got a start on that all-important aspect of marketing—finding your audience.

5. Write Articles and Book Reviews

When you write an article and distribute it to article banks (this is free to do), you will include a brief bio—carefully crafted to include your website or blog URL and an offer to sign up for something free—which is equivalent to leaving your “calling card” wherever these articles are posted.  Ezine editors and bloggers are always looking for free content and turn to article banks for fodder. When your article is used by them, you reach a whole new audience you would never have gotten your name in front of otherwise. Your articles then, are free promotion. Write them well (anything you post on the web should reflect your professionalism and may be read by an agent or editor), and you will gain readers and add to your email list.

The same goes for book reviews. If you have the time, read other books in your genre and then post a review on Amazon, ChristianBook.com, and other popular review sites.  You don’t get a bio box when you do this, so use the “ID” as a place to advertise who and what you are. For my Amazon reviews, for instance, I use “Linore Burkard, Inspirational Romance Author.” People can click on it and find out more about me and my books if they want to.

6.  Join! Comment! Participate!

Every serious writer should join a good writers’ group. Online, I know of no better one than ACFW—The American Christian Fiction Writers. You’ll find critique partners and candid advice from seasoned authors, and you can ask questions to your heart’s content. In addition, you’ll be making all important contacts. As you get to know others, guess what? They are getting to know you! Your signature tag will help them click through to your sites. Your email list will grow. When they like you, they may want to buy your book (once it’s published, of course). And in the meantime, you’ll be learning and growing in ways you just can’t when you go it alone. Opportunities abound on these lists, from entering contests, joining other blogs, taking online courses, and forging friendships.

You should also join other social networking sites, and always, always, set up your profile page as the professional writer you are. Every time you leave your name and website URL on a social network, or anywhere on the web, for that matter, it’s like “stamping” that place with your presence. Remember the old “John Doe was here”? Today, you want to do more than that—when I leave a comment on a blog, or a remark on a network, I’m saying, “Linore the romance author was here.” And letting people know where to find me.

The Web has enormous power to help you get the word out about you and your writing. Use it for its full potential, and you’ll find yourself with a healthy platform to impress an editor or agent and stir interest in your work!

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Before the Season Ends

Linore creates Inspirational Romance for the Jane Austen soul. Her characters take you back in time to experience life and love during the Regency England era (circa 1800 – 1830). Linore’s books include her debut novel, Before the Seasons Ends, which is currently available. The sequel, The House in Grosvenor Square, will be released in April 2009. Her stories blend Christian faith and romance with well-researched details from the Regency period.

The House in Grosvenor Square

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Leave a Comment for Your Chance to Win!

Linore will stop by on March 23 to reply to comments. On March 24, I will choose one name from all those who left a comment (with email address when prompted, which I don’t share). The winner will receive a $5 Borders gift card.

Congrats to the winner: Sherrinda

You could also win a First Sale Scrapbook!

If you’d like to have a chance at winning a First Sale Scrapbook created by your blog hostess, Keli Gwyn, leave a comment on any post between now and March 31, making sure to include your name and email address when prompted if you want to be entered in the drawing. (Your information will not be shared.) You may enter once per post.

On April 1, Keli will choose one person who will have her choice of four covers on an 8×8 inch, twenty-page scrapbook in which s/he can document that long-awaited first sale. The pages will cover various milestones including The Call, signing the contract, receiving the first advance payment and holding your “firstborn” in your hands.

(No scrapbooking skills required. You just add your photos and journaling.)

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About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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10 Responses to I’ve Submitted My Book—Now What?

  1. Margay says:

    Linore, these are some very good suggestions for any author, not just the ones who are just starting out. Especially in this day of the digital revolution, it is so important for authors to maintain a positive web presence. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us.
    Margay

  2. Pamela says:

    Interesting blog. I loved the interview with Kwana!

  3. Anne Barton says:

    Linore, these are great tips, and I like your fun, no-nonsense style of enumerating them. Congrats on the release of your books!

  4. Sherrinda says:

    Great article Linore! I’ve been hearing alot about platform lately. But a head shot? I should go get one of those Glamour Shots so that I don’t look like me anymore!

  5. Thank you, Margay, Anne and Sherrinda!
    (And Pamela)
    And Margay, you’re right, all authors can be continually tweaking and using these tools. For instance, my own email tag needs updating now that I’ve got my third book in the works; These aren’t things we do once and then forget about it.
    In fact, you’ve made me realize that all of these points need going back to:
    1. A website is not a static thing; it needs updating and new content or readers will have no reason to return to it. Same of course for a blog.
    2. Professional headshots are great, but even they become outdated. You don’t want people to meet you and think you look nothing like your photo online! Every three to five years is probably a good time to get a new shot done.
    3. I already mentioned how I need to update email. This can be done as often as you have news to tell, an article or book to promote, etc. It’s not difficult, but it’s one of those small tasks that we can put off too long.
    4. If your list isn’t growing, or not growing fast enough, you may need to brainstorm some kind of promotion to give it a boost. Coming up with a valuable free download to give subcribers is one of the most effective ways to encourage sign-ups.
    5.Articles and book reviews are viral tools that will work for you for years and years. Plus, you can rework them by rewriting, adding new content, and then publishing them again.
    6. Every few months, it’s a good idea to re-evaluate the groups you join and the lists you participate in. If something has proved to have little value, and offers no forum for promotion; if you don’t feel you have anything to offer for that group, it may be time to unsubscribe. Look through Yahoo groups and Facebook’s to find new ones to try.
    It’s challenging but well worth the effort to keep up to date with all of our online efforts.
    Thanks for getting me to re-think some of these! (And thank you, Keli, for having me back to your content-rich blog.)
    Blessings!

  6. Wow, this is a great list. Lots for me to work on. Thanks Linore and Keli

  7. Linore, I am busy reading the “new” Before The Season Ends. Thank you for all your suggestions and inspiration.
    Great interview.
    Blessings to you my friend
    Katt

  8. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks to everyone who stopped by.

    The winner of the Borders gift card is Sherrinda. Congrats!

  9. Sherrinda says:

    Woohoo! I’ve never won a gift card! How cool is that! Now I am off to see what I want to purchase….I have a long list, you see. 😉

    Thanks again for your great blog and kudos to Linore and her great words of wisdom.

  10. anna says:

    Thanks for the great interview–and chance to win a scrapbook 🙂

Comments are closed.