Yesterday I asked erotic romance author Shoshanna Evers questions about what she did to build her successful writing career in relatively short period of time. If you missed it, you can read it here: Shoshanna Evers Interview Part 1.
Today I present Part 2 of the interview, in which Shoshanna offers her advice for other authors. But first, a little background about Shoshanna:
Ellora’s Cave published Shoshanna Evers’ first book Punishing the Art Thief in September 2010. Since then this RN and married mom of a young son has released FOURTEEN titles and quit her day job. She’s in several anthologies (one a print release of three of her EC titles) and recently expanded into the realm of self-publishing, producing six titles, among them the Amazon Erotica Bestselling short story Overheated, a new Femme Dom series, and the #1 Amazon Authorship Bestselling nonfiction book How to Write Hot Sex. In addition to Ellora’s Cave, she’s published with The Wild Rose Press, Cleis Press (Best Bondage Erotica 2012) and Berkley Heat (Agony/Ecstasy).
Shoshanna Evers: Three things other than improve your craft?
Cara Bristol: Improving craft is the obvious answer, it’s what everyone says. But what comes AFTER that?
Shoshanna Evers: One: Promote your books, and if you have no books, promote yourself. Make it so everyone knows your name because that leads to sales.
Two: Stay current on what’s happening in the publishing industry. Read blogs and articles and books about it. You’d be surprised how confused new writers can get about the business side of writing, but ultimately writing is just one part of the job. More than half of my work day is spent on business, not writing.
Three: Get to know your readers. I’m constantly on Twitter and Facebook so I can interact with my readers and other writers (who, by the way, are also readers! You just have to look at my Kindle book list to see that’s true for me too, LOL). Readers expect a certain level of responsiveness from an author, and I completely understand that. Recently I read a book I loved, so I went online, Googled the author’s name to find her website, and looked for the “contact” button so I could tell her what a great book she wrote. There was no email listed. No Twitter account. No Facebook. I was quite surprised… and she missed out on some fan mail, LOL. I was all ready to squee, too…
Cara Bristol: What factors should a writer look for in selecting a publisher?
Shoshanna Evers: There are two main factors I can think of: Do you personally read a lot of that particular publishing imprint’s books? If the answer is yes, then you know that you like their books and they probably accept the type of book you wrote, and you know there’s an audience of readers out there (like you) who are buying their books. The other factor is: what does their contract look like? Do you have to option your first born son? Do you have to promise never to publish another book in that category again because it might compete with the contracted book? etc. Look at the option and non-compete clauses and also look at when and how you can get your rights back if things don’t work out the way you hoped. I’m not a lawyer and this isn’t contract advice, it’s just common sense. #disclaimer
Cara Bristol: What mistakes do you see authors making in their writing careers?
Shoshanna Evers: I see writers who aren’t ready to have books out there self-publishing. I recently read a self-published book that was an amazing story, but my reading experience was ruined by the author’s less-than-stellar writing skills. If she’d waited until she’d grown as a writer before publishing the book, it could have been a bestseller. Another mistake I see authors making is they brand themselves based on one book (usually their first book or the name of their series) instead of on their author name. For example, having a Twitter handle that focuses on the title of their book, and then they come out with another book and they have to completely rebrand.
Cara Bristol: What career advice would you give an intermediate-level author (i.e. one who has already published a few titles)?
Shoshanna Evers: My advice would be to keep writing, because building your backlist is a good way to build your income. The more titles you have for sale the more chances you have of connecting with a reader. I would also suggest that an author who has several traditionally and small-press published books might want to try self-publishing. I think that self-publishing is the wave of the future. But don’t do it unless you’re ready to treat it like you’re running a business. Don’t use your kid brother’s cover art just because you’ll hurt his feelings if you don’t. You need to be able to look at your work objectively, and ask other people for their opinion if you can’t get enough distance from your own work. I see so many self-published books out there with crappy covers, and it’s a shame because that’s an aspect that you have a lot of control over when you choose to self-publish.
My other advice would be to remind your readers that you have books for sale and give us some links! I chat with authors on Twitter who only promote on release day, and even then they do it with a real sense of embarrassment, like telling their readers about a book they might want to read is dirty business. But I love a well-crafted tag line and I click links all the time. If the free sample download is good I buy the book, period. Sometimes I follow authors on Twitter and I have *no idea* that they’re authors unless I happen to look at their bios, because they never mention their books! Don’t be one of those.
My last bit of advice might be controversial. Personally, I usually try to avoid getting into politics online because I don’t want to lose a reader over some self-righteous blog post. It’s hard for people (myself included) to separate the book from the author. If the author pisses them off, they won’t want to buy her book no matter how good it sounds. Occasionally I let something slip, but in general I don’t use my author platform as a platform for soapboxing about politics. I’m not sure if soapboxing is a word. Fortunately, I get to make up words for a living, so I’m keeping it. 😉
Thanks for having me here, Cara! 🙂
Please stay in touch. I welcome emails from readers and writers.
Cara Bristol: Thank you for the interview! Readers can find out more about Shoshanna here at the links below.
Email: shoshanna.evers@ yahoo. com (no spaces)
Website: www.ShoshannaEvers.com (sign up for newsletter at the bottom where it says Mail List)
Cara Bristol: On Friday, April 6, 2012 I interview Pauline Allan, a Loose Id author, whose novel, See Me, features a pornography business owner as its heroine. Pauline gave a very open and honest interview about her research for the book. I’m reading See Me now, and it’s fantastic.