Category Archives: Interacting With Professionals

I Hope You Noticed

What are the ways writers get noticed? Good hair, great covers, blind luck? Of course, there’s more to it than that and our posts this month were excellent at showing us the best ways to get our works noticed by the readers who will love them. In the end, I think our writers would all agree that it comes down to good business, good tools, good behavior, and good writing. Let’s look at a quick recap.


Guy Anthony De Marco started the month by talking conventions, the opportunity small conventions can provide for writers and the ways in which we can expand our reach to larger conventions in a larger geographic area. Travis D. Heerman echoed Guy’s views by helping us learn how to sell by loving what we do. Everywhere we go, we need to be prepared to find that Reader Zero. Scott Eder reminded us to always have business cards with us, even if we’re just going to the grocery store. Guests Doug Dandrige and Sean Golden gave overviews of what they think helps a self-published writer get noticed including Amazon giveaways, social media and reviews. Guest Petra Klarbrunn talked about reviews in more depth, their importance and some ways to encourage our readers to take the time for them. Last, but not least, we have Evan Braun getting noticed through our own Fictorians site as he shared his release of the third and final volume of his The Watchers Chronicle, The Law of Radiance. Sounds like a great book that I can’t wait to read.


I was impressed with some of the tools mentioned by our contributors this month that can help us reach our target audience. Guest Katie J. Cross gave us a detailed how-to of putting together a local book tour. She inspired me to get my own tour together which resulted in two more book signings and a writing workshop in addition to my library book festival that to which I’d already been invited. Of course, local is all well and good, but getting noticed worldwide is even better. Guest Mark Leslie Lefebvre gave us inside information about getting noticed on Kobo, including new tools that are coming available to assist authors. With the increasing rise of audio books, Guest Terry Odell’s step-by-step guide is an invaluable resource that I will be referring to soon as I prepare for that next step in my publishing endeavors. Another great source of sales, whether we agree with their platform or not, is Goodreads.  Frank Morin shared a great post on how to do a Goodreads Giveaway.


Mary Pletsch, Guest John D. Payne, Gregory Little, Nathan Barra, Ace Jordyn, David Carrico and Guest K.J. Russell would all agree that acting with kindness, relaxing a little, and making friends is one of the most important aspects of a writing career. By making friends with fellow writers, Mary enjoyed much success she hadn’t even looked for. John talked about having an attitude of success. Gregory reminds us to enjoy people without worrying over advantages while guest K.J. Russell tells us we will be the most successful when we make it our business to help others succeed. The best can happen if we find our interests, share with others, and enjoy what we do and David Carrico is a great example of that . If you haven’t read his 1632 books, you should. I loved Nathan’s post title,  The Extroverted Introvert, reminding us to swallow our fear and put ourselves out there a bit. All in all, the most important advice on behavior that I found was from Ace; when things don’t go as expected, laugh it off, let others laugh with you, find the humor and just keep going.



In the end, none of this is going to matter unless you write an intriguing story. I loved Matt Jones’ unexpected advice to get involved with hobbies and activities of interest. By doing so, we have experiences to share with our readers and to draw upon with our writing. Kristin Luna reminded us to let our writing style shine, making us identifiable to readers and always unique. Drawing on a presentation by Kevin J. Anderson at the Superstars Seminar, Jace Killan used the metaphors of Rodeos and Popcorn to remind us that perseverence and a continuous output of product will keep us sharp and multiply our opportunities. And the last post of the month (besides this one) sums it all up. Good Writing Gets Noticed, by Kim May. After all, none of the above works unless we hone our skills.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this month’s posts as much as I have. I know I’ve learned a lot that I will be applying in the weeks and months to come. Some of it I’d heard before, some of it was old, but all of the advice is absolutely valuable.

Make Friends, Be Useful, Get Noticed!

A guest post by K.J. Russell.

KJRussell_TheDustyManThe best assets a writer will ever have are their colleagues. Fellow writers, editors, proofreaders and organizers are going to help your writing reach readers in a way that social media presence, author platforms and clever selling tactics can’t match (plus, colleagues can help you master those). The first piece of advice I always give writers is to get extroverted, attend workshops and critique circles, network and make friends. That can be a hard sell for a lot of writers and it took me a few years to work my way into it.

Whether you’re still working up the courage to send your first email to a fellow writer, or maybe you’re already a networking guru, it’s easy (and tempting) to think of all things that other writers can do for you. From simply reviewing your work to helping you get reviews, teaching you the ropes of Goodreads, plugging your work on their blog or hooking you up with publication opportunities and event appearances, the ways others can help you are pretty much innumerable. It’s tempting to think about that. But that’s not where you start (even though I just started that. My bad.)

A lot of the people you’re going to meet are going to try to skip the part where they help you and go straight to the part where they ask you for help. Everyone is out there looking for people to help them get a leg up, but how often do you think a new writer walks up to someone with the goal of starting as a helper? You’re going to meet a lot of people who promise they’re going to review your book, or look over your pages and get you feedback, or say they’re going to come to an event and support you, but they’ll forget or won’t have time or something will come up at the last minute. And this will happen with them every time.

So here’s my second piece of advice, and it’s important: don’t be the person who doesn’t do things. Don’t be the person who asks for help without having helped others.

The goal in a relationship with other writers is to be valuable. If you’re in a guild, make yourself an indispensable part of it. If you’re in a critique circle, be the person who works to give the best feedback they can on every writer’s work. Be the person who says they’ll help and then actually does it.

Don’t even wait to be asked for help. You’re a writer; you know what writers need. You know how important it is to get Amazon and Goodreads reviews, so give Amazon and Goodreads reviews. Keep track of what your colleagues are doing and notice when they have new books coming out. Preorder the books, read them, leave reviews. Plug their work on facebook and twitter without being asked to. Feature their cover art on your blog. Go out looking for ways to help writers that you know, and use some of your energy to build them up.

You will be the most successful when you make it your business to help others succeed.

There are a lot of reasons this is true, not the least of which is that they’ll notice what you’re doing and a lot of them will be grateful. Maybe they’ll even repay the favor. At the very least, when your book is done and the time comes that you need help, they’ll be much more likely to respond when you ask them to give you a hand. In my experience it pays back in unexpected ways. I didn’t expect that by steadfastly attending a critique circle I’d get my first editing job, and I didn’t expect that helping my colleagues manage a book fair would get me on my first convention panel. But those things happened.

Yeah, sometimes it’s about knowing the right people and being in the right place at the right time. But you can game the system by being important and helpful to as many people as possible — there’s not one right person to know; most people are the right people — and being in the right place as often as you can manage. It’s all about being indispensable, engaged and active. It’s about doing everything you can to help those in the boat with you, and then one day they’ll help you.

And here’s another important bit of advice: when you do need the help, remember who you’ve helped in the past and actually send emails asking for help. Not everyone will respond as well as you’ve hoped, but some people will, and there’s going to be mutual appreciation there. One great thing about helping a friend reach more readers, is they’ll have more people to tell about your work when it’s time for them to plug it.

Network, make friends. Learn faces and names, exchange cards, exchange emails, keep in touch. Respond to emails quickly. Offer help, and then deliver help. Bolster someone without waiting for them to ask you to. Leave reviews and plug other writers’ work. Be the person others can count on. Make it part of your routine to help others be more successful. Help them reach more readers and then, later, they can help you reach those readers. Ask them for help when the time comes that you need it. Appreciate the help they give and repay it. Help them more. Then get helped more.

You win when they win. They win when you win. Make it a part of your plan that your success is part of someone else’s success. You’re not in this alone. You don’t want to be.

KJRK.J. Russell Bio:
K.J. Russell is a writer of dark fantasy and science fiction, and a workshop leader for the Writespace studio in downtown Houston. He frequently speaks about the writing process and perspectives on science fiction at venues as varied as comic cons and universities. He has also edited anthologies of short genre fiction on behalf of the Houston Writers Guild. His most recent book is The Dusty Man, a post-apocalyptic genre mash-up of dark sci-fi and fantasy, told with the voice of a wild west novel. Find him at, on twitter @kjrussell_write, or at


1636-The-Devils-Opera-smallMost of us are not so egocentric that we write strictly for our own pleasure. We want our work to connect to readers. We want to know that we are touching someone; that our work creates a resonance in at least one reader who feels what we are trying to create in the stories that only we can tell because of who we are.

So first, writers write. That’s the core truth of our craft and art. All of the writing rules boil down to: tell a good story; finish what you start; and edit/revise/polish enough to make it right. If that doesn’t happen, nothing else matters.

Second, we have to connect with readers. You’ve been reading a number of articles this month on ways to accomplish that. I was asked to write about my own experience, because it’s a bit different.

I broke into publishing through Eric Flint’s unique alternate history shared writing universe that is based on his bestselling novel entitled 1632. (Details and background here.)

I believe this is the most successful shared universe ever. It’s approaching seven million words in print, with fifteen novels in print as of next month, eleven anthologies of shorter fiction, and approaching sixty issues of the Grantville Gazette e-magazine (called GG by the regulars). The novels and anthologies, both paper and e-book, are published by Baen Books; GG is published by Eric Flint, but is strongly associated with Baen Books. So this experience is, for all intents and purposes, one in the traditional publishing channels.

I wasn’t part of the core group of fans who started writing what amounted to fanfic and posting it to Baen’s website after 1632 was published. (See details and background link above.) I didn’t enter the picture until after the second issue of GG was published in 2003.

I’d been trying to write a novel for years; had absolutely no experience at short fiction. But I got hit with a story idea after reading the first two issues of GG. And the rest, as they say, is history.

It’s been eleven years since I submitted my first story. As of now, I’ve published close to 300,000 words of short fiction with GG, most of which have been included in subsequent anthologies or my e-book 1635: Music and Murder, published by Baen in 2013.

The thing is, in this venue, I have no control over production, scheduling, or marketing. That’s all in the hands of Baen Books personnel for the books or Eric Flint and the editor (Paula Goodlett) for GG. Nonetheless, I do contribute.

1632 is a group brand, and my contribution is to be professional in the ways I plug into the brand’s operations. First, part of the uniqueness of the GG submission process is that prospective stories are submitted to a forum on Baen’s Bar where they are peer-reviewed for mechanics and story universe continuity and quality of story. Even at this stage of my career I have to do this. Likewise, I am expected to participate in this exercise from the other side of the table; to read submissions and provide critiques. Both the submitting and the critiquing calls for utmost professionalism as I grow both as a writer and as a member of the community.

Second, when the editor(s) call for changes or modifications to the story, accommodate them without complaint or argument—within reason.

Third, contribute to the community:

One way is to share links and information about the 17th century with the rest of the 1632 community. You never can tell what will be helpful to another writer. I had a story jump-started by a list of lute-players at the court of Gustavus Adolphus that another writer had found and linked to the forum.

Another way: Eric schedules annual 1632 “mini-cons” partnered with other conventions around the country. They move around every year.  This year’s mini-con will be held at LibertyCon in Chattanooga. Several of us make an effort to be there every year to support the group brand, to interact with fans, and to be a part of central planning and discussion with Eric about where the series is headed.

Yet another way is to attend other cons, spreading flyers, bookmarks, and other swag, and keeping the 1632 brand in view at other venues. (I have a 1632 Ring of Fire t-shirt I frequently wear.)

Most of the overt marketing is done by Baen Books or by Eric Flint. But I and the other GG authors contribute to supporting the group brand. And in so doing, I help to support my individual brand as well.

The GG enterprise has to date published over 130 authors, most of them first-timers. A significant number of those authors qualified for SFWA membership based on their GG resumes alone. Over the years, Eric has been watching the list of GG authors, and every once in a while he will reach out and tap someone and say “Let’s write something together.” I was the third one he tapped, and the result was my first published novel, 1636: The Devil’s Opera. I was the first GG author he tapped, though, to work on a project outside of 1632. The result was the third novel in his Jao Empire series, entitled The Span of Empire, tentatively slated to be published by Baen in September 2016.

Writing a good story, and being diligent and professional in everything else, those are the keys. Everything else is details.

Shameless plug: Grantville Gazette is always looking for new writers. If you think you might be interested in writing in one of the most interesting alternate history universes around, check out the links mentioned above. If you can tell good character based stories, give it a try. They pay professional rates; currently six cents a word, if I remember correctly.

David CarricoDavid Carrico Bio:
David Carrico has been an avid science-fiction and fantasy reader since January 1963, when he encountered a copy of Andre Norton’s novel Catseye.  He started writing (mumbledy) years ago, but has been selling professionally since 2004.  Most of his work is alternate history.  His first book, an e-book entitled 1635: Music and Murder, was published by Baen Books in September, 2013.  It’s a collection of two different groups of stories which collectively provide the backstory for his second book, 1636: The Devil’s Opera, a novel published by Baen Books in October, 2013, in both paper and e-book formats.  Both books are laid in Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire alternate history universe, and the novel was co-written with Eric.
David is married, has three kids, five grandkids, two great-grandkids, and usually has at least a couple of Basset hounds lazing around the house somewhere.

Laugh! and Get Noticed!

We will discover the nature of our particular genius when we stop trying to conform to our own or to other people’s models, learn to be ourselves, and allow our natural channel to open.
Shakti Gawain

Writers are fun loving people with countless interests, who love a good joke, and truly are kids at heart. Yet, we can feel overwhelmed when we’re in the public eye at book launches and conventions, or when we approach and agent or publisher. Our effervescent, perfectionist selves, our I-wrote-an-awesome-book selves, crumble in a public spotlight. It’s not about our craft (we work hard at that), or our ability to complete a project, nor is it about putting our literary babies up for criticism (we’ve jumped that hurdle a few times to get the manuscript ready). It’s that we’re perfectionists and we all strive to write the next best seller.

Ah, yes. I had written the perfect pitch and had practiced the perfect delivery. With my perfect pitch in hand, I went to my first convention and encountered a publisher’s representative. What was my book about? he asked me. Well, I was prepared, wasn’t I? I had polished that pitch, memorized it and practiced it until I could recite it anywhere. And then….

… FAILURE! For so many reasons it escaped me (I wasn’t doing dishes, taking out the garbage, reciting it to a blank wall – who knows?).  I rolled my eyes back into my head in an effort to mentally read my perfect pitch and I was suddenly, totally mortified. I had blown the perfect opportunity! Solution? Run? Turn a deeper red? I looked him in the face and laughing, I said, “Now that that’s over, let me tell you what the book is really about.” And so I spoke from the heart all the while laughing inside over how silly I’d been.

Artists who seek perfection in everything are those who cannot attain it in anything.
Eugene Delacroix

That encounter didn’t get me the sale but I got a great chortle from the publisher and I had a good conversation with him. But most importantly, I learned to laugh at myself and relax. Publishers, agents and book buyers don’t have it easy trying to find the perfect book either. So once you understand that they have as much at stake in the moment as you do, it takes the pressure off needing to be perfect. Besides, you just want an opportunity to submit the manuscript or for prospective readers at your sales table to buy the book to read later. How does laughing at yourself accomplish that?

          Genuine beginnings begin within us, even when they are brought to our attention by external opportunities.
William Bridges

It’s about being true to yourself and sparking a relationship which in turn creates loyalty. Who are we the most loyal to? Those we are most comfortable around, not those who make us feel squeamish. Think of your best friends. You laugh, you discuss, even argue from time to time and you know what’s important or meaningful to them. So it should be with those we are trying to impress. Like with our friends, we need to listen, ask questions, converse and laugh at ourselves and with them. That’s what creates relationships and opportunities, not a perfectly recited pitch.

So, don’t be so hard on yourself. Laugh at yourself. Laugh with others. View your encounters as if you’re developing a friendship. Ask them what’s important to them. Ask about their interests. Don’t forget to smile. Above all, laugh and relax. But what happens if they aren’t interested in what you’ve written?

The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is a reaction, both are transformed.
C.G. Jung

A negative response doesn’t mean that your work isn’t good or whatever the awful thing the voice inside your head is sniping. It simply means it isn’t for them or that you’ve got a bit more work to do to answer their questions. You can choose to address the issue or not. You can choose to purse the relationship or not. But what you can always do is laugh and revel in the wonder of how although we are all the same, we are so different.

I cannot believe that the inscrutable universe turns on an axis of suffering; surely the strange beauty of the world must somewhere rest on pure joy!
Louise Bogan.

If you’d like to read more great quotes and learn to overcome limiting beliefs and fears that inhibit the creative process (and keep you from laughing), I recommend you read The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity by Julia Cameron.