How to . . . Get from First Sale to Publication Wisely

Christine Trent PortraitGuest blogger Christine Trent landed a two-book deal with Kensington Books. Her debut novel, The Queen’s Dollmaker, a historical with strong romantic elements, is due to be released in January 2010. I interviewed Christine September 3, 2008. Three weeks later, she sold, and on October 31, 2008 she shared her exciting story of receiving The Call.

Christine has learned a great deal as she’s traveled the path to publication, and I’ve invited her to pass on some of her tips to you. Join us as we explore four topics so important to those eager to receive a contract offer:

April 13: How to . . . Complete a Manuscript

April 16: How to . . .  Submit a Query Letter

April 20: How to . . . Interpret a Rejection Letter

April 23: How to . . . Get from First Sale to Publication Wisely

Be sure to follow the comment trail, where Christine will stop by to respond to your questions. As usual, there’s a drawing. Find out about my biggest giveaway yet at the end of the post.

And now, here’s Christine  . . .

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A Writer’s Tool Kit: Part 4

How to . . . Get from First Sale to Publication Wisely

by Christine Trent

“Now there is in store for me the crown of publication.”
Using the time between first sale a publication wisely

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So, you’ve finally received THE CALL, have done your happy dance, called everyone you know––including your first-grade spelling teacher––and have generally exhausted yourself in happiness. Now what? How do you productively spend your time over the next nine months to a year waiting for your book to come out? Let me make some suggestions . . ..

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1. Get to work on your next book. NOW.

I’ve talked about this with lots of other authors, and it seems to be a common opinion. The best thing to drive sales is to have books to sell! You’ll be very busy once your book hits the shelves, so if you can get your next book written before that date, you will be waaaay ahead of the game. I’m currently typing my fingers off to get my second book done before THE QUEEN’S DOLLMAKER comes out in January. Then I can concentrate more fully on promotion.

This is also a good time to plan your third, fourth, and maybe even fifth books. Generate an outline, develop a short synopsis, or do whatever is your preferred method of developing a book idea. You never know when an editor will say, “Love your first book. I’d like to contract for a three-book deal. What have you got?”

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2. Develop a promotion plan.

Stephie Smith has a fabulous list of promotional ideas for writers that she has collected over the years. I used her ideas as a basis for developing my own plan.

http://stephiesmith.com/promotion.html

When developing your own plan, consider carefully what everyone suggests. Are you urged to blog but hate sitting in front of the computer any longer than you have to after finishing your word count for the day? Then don’t blog. Does the idea of speaking in front of any audience make you break out in hives? You probably shouldn’t volunteer to teach workshops. What works for some doesn’t always work for others. Do what’s in your comfort zone. After all, you can’t do everything, so you may as well do what you’re good at.

Now I know someone is going to say, “But Christine, shouldn’t we do things we aren’t good at to improve our skills?” Sure, but wait until your second book to try out those latent skills. You have way too much going on to be thinking about a Journey of Self-Discovery right now.

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3. Start spreading the news.

OK, so you don’t have a book in your hand yet. For that matter, you don’t even have a book cover yet. Don’t let that stop you.

An easy start is with guest blogging. Your writer friends are interested in knowing that you have a book coming out. And many of them have blogs. Think about a topic you can blog about now. For example, if your novel is about life and love inside a suburban coffee shop, you probably know quite a bit about different kinds of coffee. So, blog about coffee!

A few other easy ways to get the word out prior to publication:

•    E-mail your friends and family about your upcoming release.
•    Offer to speak about being a novelist at your child’s school on career day (teachers will love it).
•    Attend writer conferences, retreats, and classes. You’ll get lots out of them, and they are the perfect environment for talking about your book.
•    Keep business cards on you at all times, and make sure the title of your book and its release date is on them, as well as your Web site address. I hand mine out to anyone who will take one!

Another hint: Keli loves to profile romance writers who have made their first sales, so she’s probably the first person you should contact.

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4. Get That Web site up and running

Another big way to get the word out is to get your Web site up and running, if you haven’t done so already. As you begin promotional activities (like blogging), people will want to click on your Web site to learn more about you.

Hint: please don’t have a link that goes to a page that says “Coming Soon.” That is very frustrating for visitors and suggests that you may not have completely thought out your site. Put something there of informational value, even if it’s just a couple of sentences. The closer you get to your release date, the more information you’ll have to add!

If you are in that year between selling and publication, you know it is both an exhilarating and scary time. However, with careful planning and wise use of your time, you’ll be calm, cool, and collected the day you can say, “On Sale Now!”

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Can anyone share a tip about other important things to do while waiting for publication?

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Leave a Comment for Your Chance to Win

I have a plethora of prizes to give away while Christine’s posts are active. This time I’m keeping the prizes a secret. Yes, each winner will receive a package with a minimum of three mystery items that range from note cards to necklaces or memo pads to magnets.

I’ll choose 11 winners from those who leave a comment for Christine between April 13 and 23, one each day, and will post the winners’ names as they are drawn.

To be entered in the drawing, please include an email address when prompted, which I don’t share. Each comment counts as an entry, and you may enter as many times as you’d like.

Congratulations to the 11 drawing winners: #1 Leslie Carroll, #2 Leigh, #3 Jessica, #4 Eileen Astels,  #5 Karen Fraga,  #6 Sherrinda,  #7 Margay,  #8 Kit,  #9 Kwana, #10 Louisa Cornell, # 11 Rebecca J. Clark

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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 April 30. Make 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.) Click red link above to see samples of covers and pages.

On May 1, Keli will choose one person who will have her choice of five 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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Learn More About Christine

Visit her Web site: www.ChristineTrent.com

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Learn More About Her Debut Novel

The Queen’s Dollmaker
Coming January 2010 from Kensington Books

“An exuberant, sparkling debut. Beguiling details of doll making are a joy in this rags-to-riches romp. Brims with Dickensian gusto.”
Barbara Kyle, author of The Queen’s Lady and The King’s Daughter

A young woman, struggling to expand her London dollmaking trade, finds a surprising customer in Queen Marie Antoinette, an avid doll collector herself.  This seemingly innocent exchange puts Claudette’s life in danger when she is lured to Paris under false pretenses.  Money and jewels are being smuggled in dolls destined for the Queen, and have now been discovered by the fledgling revolutionary French government.  Her only hope for escaping the guillotine is a man she pledged not to love, who has no idea she has even been imprisoned…

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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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14 Responses to How to . . . Get from First Sale to Publication Wisely

  1. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks for another great article, Christine.

    Stephie Smith’s site is a gold mine. I’ve been there in the past to look at some of her many resources. I hope that one day soon I get that first contract and am making use of your helpful tips and hers.

    One of my Pixie pals (2008 GH finalists), Lynn Raye Harris, who has sold five book to Harlequin Presents since Nationals 2008, has a great post at Romance Magicians about treating ourselves as professionals even before we sell. http://tiny.cc/nbgsm.

    I think it’s very important that we remember we’re creating our public image anytime we post online–even before we’ve sold–and to behave professionally and with discretion when we’re in Cyberspace, just as we do in person.

  2. Christine Trent says:

    Great advice, Keli. In today’s cyberworld, anything you say – and type – is available for anyone, anywhere, anytime to see. So it’s not only our mouths, but our fingers, that help build other people’s impressions of us.

    Thanks for the Romance Magicians link. And my kudos to Lynn for managing five sales in such a short time!

    Christine

  3. Margay says:

    Christine, I wish I’d had someone to advise me on this before I published my book because I feel like I really had to wing it once I was published. Since I was published by a small press, all of the promotion fell on me and I had no idea what I was doing. I really just jumped right in and learned by doing. I suggest aspiring writers become familiar with promotion techniques before their book comes out so when it does come out, they won’t be floundering for ways to market themselves. Do a Google search on promotion and marketing techniques and start putting them into effect before the publication date. Build up buzz so people will look forward to the publication date and offer free copies to a commenter on sites you guest on. That could lead to an unexpected review of your book from the contest winner and who knows, it might show up on Amazon. It happened to me.
    Margay

  4. Keli Gwyn says:

    I’ve chosen three more drawing winners. They are: Kit, Kwana and Louisa Cornell. Congrats, ladies! I’ll be in touch.

  5. Margay says:

    Congratulations, ladies!
    Margay

  6. Christine Trent says:

    What a great piece of advice, Margay! And don’t feel bad about your small press not doing that much promotion…I think that’s a trend with many big publishers too as the economy continues on its wacky trajectory.

    Thanks for following along for this 4-part series. It’s been a pleasure having you!

    Christine

  7. Margay says:

    Christine, it has been my pleasure. I’ve really enjoyed your posts.
    Margay

  8. What an awesome post. Congrats on your success!

    I’m awaiting the release date of my first book. It seems to me if I do too much promo before my book comes out, people will be so sick of hearing about it, they won’t buy the book. Or they’ll be so used to seeing the cover, when it is out, they’ll assume they’ve already read it.

    Any suggestions?

  9. Christine Trent says:

    Rebecca, I used to worry about this, too. But remember: you’re the only one who is seeing that cover/hearing about it over and over and over, so you’re probably the only one who will get sick of it!

    What’s the old marketing adage? People need to see/hear something seven times before they will take action. So you have a lot of promoting to do!!

    Good luck with your release.

    Christine

  10. Keli Gwyn says:

    Christine, thanks for the awesome series. You gave sound counsel. Many have already benefited from it, and I know many will in the days and weeks to come.

    I’ve held the drawing for the final mystery prize, and the winner is Rebecca J. Clark. Congrats, Becky! I’ll be in touch.

  11. Anne Barton says:

    Christine, this really has been a great series–one I know I’ll refer to again. Your website in GORGEOUS with a capital G. I want to live in that room with the cat and all those books. 🙂

    Have a great weekend!

    –Anne

  12. Christine, this really has been an amazing series and definitely a keeper for those of us who are still waiting on the call. I always thought just getting the book written would be the big thing, but now I know there is A LOT more to it than that ! Thanks for such great advice!

  13. Christine Trent says:

    Congrats to Becky on winning!

    Anne, thank you for your kind comment regarding my web site. I know the kitties will appreciate hearing it!

    Louisa, thank you for following my series, I really appreciate it. My best wishes for your future success!

    And Keli, thank you for having me. It’s always a pleasure to be with you.

    Christine

  14. Jessica says:

    Hi Christine,
    I think I just saw the first sale announcement of your book in the RWR! How exciting. 🙂 Great advice here. Thank you!

Comments are closed.