Category Archives: Frank Morin

You Are Not Alone

Writing is by its nature a solitary occupation.

But writers don’t have to be alone.

We don’t have to channel our inner Robin from the Lego Batman movie when he asks himself, “What would Batman do?” and decides Batman would “go in alone!”

As authors we wear a lot of hats and have to learn a lot about a lot of things, but no one ever said we have to do everything alone, figure it all out without help, and build our readership in a vacuum.

One resource most authors end up with in spades is a fantastic secret weapon: other authors!

We’re all trying to build readerships and connect with fans, but one great thing about being an author is that we don’t have to consider other authors as competitors. Our industry is not like real estate or car sales. A book buyer won’t just buy one book and keep it for years. They buy books a lot, and there’s no way any one author can write enough to satisfy all the demands of all of their readers.

So we need other authors. Our fans need other authors. They actually appreciate it if we help them connect with other great reads.

So use those connections. Work with other authors to cross-promote your stories and reach a far greater fan base by helping each others’ fans get more great books.

This website – Fictorians – is one way for a large pool of authors to provide content that far exceeds anything we could do alone.

When it comes to book sales, there are lots of ways to collaborate and cross-sell. For example:

  • Guest blog on each others’ blog sites.
  • Include interviews with other authors in your newsletters to your fans, particularly if you don’t have any big news of your own to share with them.
  • Share other authors’ new releases and big sales events with your fans and via your social media. People like seeing that you’re not focused only on yourself.
  • Get into a book bundle.
  • Even if you can’t get into a formal bundle, there’s no reason you can’t cross-promote with other authors and set up sales to coincide with one of your launches. I’m beginning a cross-promotional, unofficial bundle like this with three other authors. I expect it’ll produce lots of results for all of us.

So keep writing. Do everything you can to push your craft and your career forward.

And look for ways to share the journey. It’s a lot more fun that way.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinRune Warrior coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers Contemporary Fantasy/Historical thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org

School Visits – A Captive Audience?

For authors who write middle grad or YA books, it seems like a no-brainer to include school visits in our plan to build our fan bases, right?

Maybe.

Like a lot of things, it depends on your personality, your books, and how you approach those visits. I personally love visiting schools, even though I haven’t sold lots of books as a direct result of most of those visits. Still, I consider visiting schools, teaching kids about writing, talking about stories, and mentoring young writers well worth my time.

Through the process, I’ve learned a few things.

  1. When you first approach schools, don’t be surprised if they’re wary. These days a lot of indie authors try to get school visits, but few seem interested in helping busy teachers, administrators, and librarians accomplish their curriculum objectives. And they don’t have time to babysit an author coming only to pitch their book.
  2. When you do get school visits, many schools are happy to set you up in the library. Don’t be surprised if you don’t have tons of visitors, unless you schedule with teachers in advance.
  3. Get to know the librarians. Promise them a free book. They love free books, and I always give them one every time I visit. Ask them to put you in touch with English teachers or other teachers who might be interested in meeting with you.
  4. Contact those teachers and ask them what they need, or how you can support and assist their current plans.
  5. Note – don’t be surprised if quite a few teachers scoff at the idea of some indie hack coming into their classrooms and teaching their students anything they couldn’t teach themselves. Some teachers are very open and friendly, but some are quite snobby, even though they usually have no idea how to actually write a publishable story. I’ve had to work through that in initial visits where I prove I know what I’m talking about, students enjoy interacting with me, and I bring value. They’re often much more eager to invite me back a second time.
  6. Be friendly and smile a lot.
  7. Offer to teach students about writing. I’ve spent entire days at local schools teaching students about writing and holding writing workshops with them. Students love it best when only a little formal instruction is given, followed by a hands-on exercise. I really enjoy building a story with students, and they usually love the opportunity to help create stories together.
  8. Prepare a message or presentation that appeals to a wide audience beyond just your books. I’m working on a couple different presentations suitable for larger audiences that should make administrators a lot more eager to invite me to come speak to their schools.
  9. Although it is possible to set up a big book signing event at the school, the more I learn, the more I think there are better ways. One well known author I know warned me that sometimes holding a big book signing can actually generate hostility from the school.

He pointed out that at least one teacher or administrator at almost every school fancies themselves an author, and they often feel resentment when they seen tons of students lining up to buy books.

So for a really big book signing, a great suggestion they gave me is to line up multiple school visits for the same area over a couple of days, and send all the kids home with a notice that you’ll be holding a big book signing at a local bookstore or venue close to the schools. Then the kids and their parents can come on Saturday and buy your books.

I plan to test this approach soon, and I’m eager to see how it goes.

10. Finally, know your objectives. Make sure you’re helping the school and bringing value to them. You’ll get exposure, if not tons of sales at first, but over time, it really pays off.

I’ve been cultivating relationships with local schools for the past few years, and I have a strong local fan base, partially because of those efforts. Plus I’ve helped a lot of budding authors learn some things I wish I’d known at their age.

 

We Don’t Write in a Vacuum

Writing in a vacuumSome writers write as a hobby, and don’t really expect anyone else to read their stories. Some people put pen to paper to record their memoirs, or to produce a work for close family and friends. Some literary writers seek to push the boundaries of the written word, without the weight of commercial sales holding them back.

We are not those writers.

Professional writers write with the goal of producing stories that people want to read. Hopefully lots of people. We develop craft and work with relentless determination to give our readers stories that entertain, instruct, and explore weighty matters of human existence.

To succeed as a professional writer, we need to sell enough books to support our work. So we need to develop, expand, and preserve our fan base.

How do we do that?

For new authors, it means starting at the beginning. That might include starting our own blogs, creating a newsletter, and deciding what content people want to see.

As our fan bases grow along with our story counts, what channels do we utilize to deliver those products? What marketing efforts work, and which ones flop?

This month, the Fictorians will explore these and other aspects of building our fan bases. I know I’m looking forward to a lot of great content.

Embracing the Pain – Receiving Editors’ Feedback

EditsReceiving edits back from an editor is like opening a Christmas present on the set of a horror film: exciting and terrifying at the same time.

Don’t get me wrong. I love editing. The process of revising and editing and polishing a story transforms it into its final, awesome form. It’s like taking a house that’s got external construction mostly complete, and internal walls roughed in and completing the construction, painting, and furnishing every room to make it a livable home.

Even so, that first scan of an editor’s comments can be painful.

As much as I know the draft I submitted is far from perfect, there’s a part of me that still clings to the hope that the editor will simply say, “Wow. I’ve never read anything quite that amazing. I can’t imagine how to make that better.”

Never going to happen. Instead, a good editor will shine a spotlight on every flaw, point to every weakness, and ask for clarification of every inconsistency. They’ll highlight every issue part of me was secretly hoping they’d never notice.

Feedback is something we authors desperately need and usually crave. When we’re new, we’re usually terrified by it, sometimes take it personally, treat is as an assault, or embrace the righteous anger of a parent protecting their precious child. All the wrong answers.

I still feel flashes of that sometimes when I’m first reviewing edits, and I’ve learned to laugh at myself. My pride is meaningless, my vanity useless. The story is what matters, and a good editor helps identify weaknesses and make suggestions to help that story fulfill its potential.

They do point out the things that do work, and that’s also extremely helpful, but the work and the growth comes from the constructive criticism.

So I always complete an initial quick scan of the feedback, then take a break, breathe deep, consider what I read, and sometimes take a walk as I mentally update my assessment of what I had thought I had written to the reality of what I had actually produced.

Only then can I get to work.

That’s when the fun begins. When I embrace the feedback, accept responsibility for the flaws, and embrace the work required to fix and improve the story, it’s always amazing how fast new insights and ideas flow. Sometimes that’s the point when I finally understand what story I’m really trying to tell. That’s when I can make it amazing.

Some authors are smarter than me, and perhaps their experience with editor feedback is more like a gentle, encouraging massage. For most of us, it’s a bruising beating that helps us grow stronger.

PerfectionWithout fail, when I keep an open mind and honestly review suggestions and critiques, not only do I see ways to better tell the story, but I gain insights into my own weaknesses as a writer. With every story, I grow. I discover blinders that I had on that prevented me from seeing weaknesses, I gain insights into higher forms of craft, and strengthen my skills.

So next time my manuscript will finally be perfect on the first try!

Or not. And I’ll fix it.

About the Author: Frank Morin

Author Frank MorinRune Warrior coverFrank Morin loves good stories in every form. When not writing or trying to keep up with his active family, he’s often found hiking, camping, Scuba diving, or enjoying other outdoor activities. For updates on upcoming releases of his popular Petralist YA fantasy novels, or his fast-paced Facetakers Contemporary Fantasy/Historical thrillers, check his website: www.frankmorin.org