Today on Mystery Mondays, we welcome author Heather Weidner to share her advice on becoming a writer and what she learned along the way. I connected with Heather because of the Pens, Paws, and Claws Website and Blog. If you like writing, and you like cats or dogs, this is the blog for you!
Over to Heather…
Key Things about the Writing Life
by Heather Weidner.
When I dreamed of being a writer, I had visions of working at my desk (at a house that overlooked the beach), doing TV interviews, and cashing royalty checks. I never realized how many marketing and other tasks are needed to sell books.
My debut novel launched in 2016, and the second in the Delanie Fitzgerald Mystery series is slated for mid-November 2017. For the first book, I planned a launch celebration and did interviews, author spotlights, and guest blog posts for 35 sites. I did a Facebook hop, a Goodreads give-away, radio interviews, and podcast interviews. I do about 50 book signings and presentations each year. And I am also a full-time IT manager, so writing and marketing get shuffled in with all the other demands of everyday life.
Here are some key things I’ve learned over the years about what it really means to be a writer.
- Publishing is a business. The goal is to sell books.
- Make sure that you’re writing your next book.
- Always be professional. Be on time and strive to meet all deadlines.
- Keep one master calendar for all your events and deadlines. Mine helps me stay organized with all the other parts of my life.
- Writing is a lot of work. The first few “sloppy” drafts need a lot of work.
- Build relationships through your social media platform. They make a difference.
- Set a blogging and social media schedule that works for you. These sites need care and feeding, but they shouldn’t be a 24×7 job.
- Everyone has an opinion. Comments and reviews can sting, but learn what you can from them and then move on.
- Try to write something every day.
- Keep a notebook or electronic notes of names and story ideas. You never know when you’ll encounter something that’ll work in your next book or story.
- Look at your social media posts. Make sure that they’re not all “buy my book.” Make sure that you share others’ celebrations on your social media sites.
- It’s key for writers to network, market, and build their platforms. Just make sure you leave enough time for writing.
- Collect email addresses at your events for your newsletter’s mailing list. Get a clipboard and make sure you take it with you to all events.
- Writing is often lonely. Find a group of kindred souls. Look for other authors or groups who will assist and support you. (I am so fortunate to have my Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Sisters in Crime National, Guppies, and James River Writer friends.)
- Find beta readers or a critique group to help you revise and edit your work.
- Remind yourself that you do not have to do everything. There are lots of opportunities, but you can burn out if you’re constantly on the go. Take care of yourself.
- Learn from your mistakes. Make note of how you’d do it differently next time.
- I try a lot of events and marketing ideas. If it doesn’t work for me, I see what I can learn from it and move on.
- Order bookmarks and postcards. Make sure you always have them with you.
- Take pictures at your events or on your adventures to share on your website or social media platforms.
- Review your website from time to time to ensure your content and photos are current.
- Review your social media biographies or descriptions to ensure that they are current.
- Make sure to back up your computer files. It’s devastating when you lose your work.
- Keep your author headshot current. (People will comment if your picture is ten years old and no longer looks like you.)
- Most of my correspondence is done via email. I keep lots of folders to ensure I can find the email when I need it. I also add new contacts to my address book immediately, so I don’t lose them.
- Keep all your receipts and be diligent about tracking your mileage. You’ll be glad when it’s tax time.
- When you schedule an event, ask about where you’ll be seated and what will be provided (especially if it is an outdoor event).
- Keep a box of books in the trunk of your car. I’ve encountered times when the bookseller couldn’t get books in time for an event. Also, at several events, the bookseller sold out, so it was nice that I had some extras to provide on consignment.
- Don’t give up. The writing life is a challenge, and it’s difficult sometimes, but it is worth it. I get excited every time that box of books arrives.
- Take time to celebrate your wins and successes.
Who Is Heather Weidner?
Heather Weidner’s short stories appear in the Virginia is for Mysteries series and 50 Shades of Cabernet. She is a member of Sisters in Crime – Central Virginia, Guppies, Lethal Ladies Write, and James River Writers. The Tulip Shirt Murders is the second novel in her Delanie Fitzgerald series. Secret Lives and Private Eyes debuted in 2016.
Originally from Virginia Beach, Heather has been a mystery fan since Scooby Doo and Nancy Drew. She lives in Central Virginia with her husband and a pair of Jack Russell terriers.
Heather earned her BA in English from Virginia Wesleyan College and her MA in American literature from the University of Richmond. Through the years, she has been a technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. She blogs regularly with the Lethal Ladies and Pens, Paws, and Claws.
The Tulip Shirt Murders
Private investigator Delanie Fitzgerald, and her computer hacker partner, Duncan Reynolds, are back for more sleuthing in The Tulip Shirt Murders. When a local music producer hires the duo to find out who is bootlegging his artists’ CDs, Delanie uncovers more than just copyright thieves. And if chasing bootleggers isn’t bad enough, local strip club owner and resident sleaze, Chaz Smith, pops back into Delanie’s life with more requests. The police have their man in a gruesome murder, but the loud-mouthed strip club owner thinks there is more to the open and shut case. Delanie and Duncan link a series of killings with no common threads. And they must put the rest of the missing pieces together before someone else is murdered.
The Tulip Shirt Murders is a fast-paced mystery that appeals to readers who like a strong female sleuth with a knack for getting herself in and out of humorous situations such as larping and trading elbow jabs with roller derby queens.
Website and Blog: http://www.heatherweidner.com
Amazon Authors: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00HOYR0MQ