Friday, April 23, 2010

The P Word

The other day, someone questioned me about why I have a website and blog when I'm not even published. The person, who shall not be named, even used the p word ... premature. Take a deep breath fellow writers and exhale slowly. The question did not fluster me. It was easy to answer because I asked myself the same question. As for my blog or website being "premature", to that I say the person simply used the wrong p word.

I didn't consider creating a website or starting a blog until I took a workshop on building an Author Brand. A great class that taught me about the importance of having a web presence before you're published. I'd never really given any thought to what I wanted my "brand" to look and feel like. I thought you write the best book possible, struggle to find an agent, then the publisher does the rest once you've finished your final edits. Say it with me people, NAIVE.

Publishing is a tough industry to break into with fierce competition. Landing an agent is like finding a unicorn. To catch the attention of these mystical and elusive creatures you have to hone your craft, produce a great novel, and show them you understand this is a business, which requires work on the part of the author long after you've finished writing the book. After the workshop, I still debated about when to create my presence on the web. Then I read an interview by super agent Holly Root and she said that she actually checks to see if a potential client is already out there on the web. I kept reading interviews. She is not the only one. Many authors advise the aspiring and naive to get started sooner rather than later. The pros will far outweigh any potential cons.

A farmer does not sit and stare at a barren field wishing for a bountiful crop. In order to reap a harvest, you have to till the soil, plant the seeds, and water it (yeah, I'm a city gal) or pray for rain. Success does not happen in a vacuum.

Someone once said success is when preparation and opportunity collide. I think it was Oprah :). Every book I write is me tilling the soil. This blog and my website are the seeds I have planted. Trust me, I am praying for rain.

One day, my magic 8 ball hasn't revealed when, my opportunity will come and I'm the kind of gal who likes to be Prepared.

Fellow writers, what steps have you taken to prepare for publication? Wise authors, what preparatory steps did you take that helped with your first sale?


  1. It really is attitude that determines your altitude in life. Successful people will always push you to reach a dream and get out there. In my experience, unhappy people ask you why you are doing something or try to tell you can't. Love ya!

  2. I wish I'd had a website and blog going when my first book was published. There is a lot of craziness when you get the call. Plus, there is often a second book to write on deadline--there was for me.

    So there you are trying to write a book in six months after you just spent five years on the last one. And you're trying to get a website and blog going along with learning all kinds of stuff about dealing with a publisher and promoting your first book.

    I agree with those who say your focus needs to be on writing, but learning some of the rest while you're writing and before you have that first contract is a benefit. Be careful not to let the blog sap your creative energy. But have fun with it and learn the online promo game at the same time because you will need this knowledge when that first book contract comes your way.

  3. Great post, great attitude! I, too, had a website prior to publishing. Not only was it nice to be prepared, but believe me, it was a relief not to have to deal with establishing that website as my release day drew nearer. All I had to do (in addition to tons of other stuff to prepare for 'the day') was update a few pages. Much less pressure and stress.

    The other nice thing about starting your blog/website prior to publication is you can really evaluate what you want and put together a quality product -vs- slapping something up on the web just for the sake of having it.

    Also, as you pointed out, it shows agents/editors you're serious about your career and willing to put in some effort.

    Wishing you much success Isis!

  4. I have heard both sides of the issue but I see more and more it's more important than ever to get a website and blog up and running. My thoughts are I'm on dial up and I'm just not sure a website is (I'm crazy-I want to make my own) is possible right now. I went yep if we move and get high speed internet I will be doing a lot better. FIrst the move then a website.

  5. I concur. It's best to have something before you get The Call. Before I was published, I created my own website. Didn't spend too much money on it, and it gave me an opportunity to fool around with templates and styles and content. You're doing the right thing, Isis. You've done the preparation - now await the opportunity!

  6. Isis I believe that you are already published.

    How is that possible you may ask?
    1 - your words are in print (now)
    2 - people are reading your work (now)

    Changing the way we look at a situation has the power to change or elevate the experience. You know I enjoy thinking outside the box, hopefully the nameless person will think beyond the "norm" of how things are and have been with regards to publishing and offer more support since there are more than one way to define published.

    You are here, your stories are here and people are reading them and offering support whichis what happens during the entire publication process and that speaks volumes.

  7. I like your attitude, Isis. I agree with you. I started with a website and then added a blog.

    I'm a mystery romance writer, and I took classes about branding, too. I didn't want to do it because it took so much time from writing, but it's necessary to get your name out there.

  8. You are all affirming that sooner is better than later. I've heard that when you get the Call, as Carol E said, things move at warp speed. I've also heard people say they get bogged down with blogging. I'm learning even more about time management when it comes to entering contests, judging contests, critiquing, reading and spending time with family. Limits are important. I will not blog more than once a week.

  9. My mother always told me to dress for the job you want, not the one you have. So, as writers we need to dress (website, blog, network) like the authors we want to be, not the wannabee's we are at the moment.

    I've discovered with writing, no one takes you seriously until you do. No one in my family took me seriously until I started a time card and could show how much time I was putting in to try to get published.

  10. Isis, I've joined a critique group in London UK with some very nice women. I have to say Monique Devere has helped me to see things I was unfamiliar with, as an unpublished writer. So I'd have to say a good mentor and tons of knowledge is the best way to get you set in the right direction.

  11. Great blog. I love the line about getting an agent is like finding a unicorn. I'm still chuckling, but it's so true. I was lucky and found a great one, Christine Witthohn of Book Cents, and I'm hanging onto her for dear life.

    As far as premature, anyone can get a website, why shouldn't you? You're a professional, even if you aren't published YET. Everyone is talking about branding these days. What better way to start than a website?

  12. From one city gal to another, great post, Isis! I, too, had a website before I published, and like Stacey said, it was just a matter of updating versus starting from scratch. Plus if I'd have waited I don't know if my name would've been available. Liza James was already taken, so I had to go with

    Now, a blog is something I doubt I'll ever have, at least not on my own, simply because...well, I suck at it...LOL And I'd forget to post half the time. It would be sad. So I just guest blog here and there.

  13. Hi Isis,
    Fabulous topic, attitude, and yes, you're taking THE RIGHT STEPS. We create our own destiny by the hard work we do. When opportunity arises, we pounce. And, once we reach our dreams = selling a manuscript, then dig in, because in addition to learning the craft and the industry, once you sell, the next P word is promotion.
    But, from your attitude, your perseverance, I have confidence you're going to do great. My sincere best to you, please know I'm cheering you on! *Hugs*

    Diana Cosby
    Romance Edged With Danger

  14. Isis, I'm in the same boat as you - unpublished but working hard. After something that was said in a Margie Lawson class, I decided a website and blog would be a good thing to do. It's affirming to read Teresa's comment that it puts you ahead of the game. I grabbed my domain name while it was still available. Since I don't have anything to put on the web page yet, it's going to say 'Site under construction' and 'Please visit again' and 'Until then find me at at ***' (the blog). This is all just happening, so my blog isn't quite ready yet. Instead of using up my creativity, I'm finding that it's fueling it. Good luck!

  15. Hi Isis,

    Awesome post girl! Couldn't have said it better, nor could you have been more inspiring for all of us Previously NAIVE pre-pubs lol!

    Let's face it, you can't build that ivory tower without the building blocks in hand - so wtg getting those blocks in a pile.

    Great blog and your site is gorgeous! I absolutely love the home page background, great choice for your work, the feel suits what you write beautifully.

    Your friend across the pond is sending you a big cyber high five!

    Kymber :)

  16. I agree with you 100%, and that's not just because I had the privilege of building your fantastic site. A good % of my authors are what people call "pre-published" and have been very happy to have their brand and site started when "the call" comes. And yes, I think it allows them to strive toward the attitude of little train, I think I can... therefore I am! And my Agent, Deidre Knight, says she does check sites before signing on her clients as Holly said. I think it shows organization and goal setting to be ready. :)

  17. Nice post, and so true in today's market. Cheers~