All posts tagged Publishing

Are You Ready For A One-Star Review?

It’s no fun getting a one-star review on Amazon.  What’s worse?  Having your 10-year-old son read it in front of you.
When Nick looked up, he was fighting the tears.  Trying to stay strong.  Trying to act like it didn’t matter.
Then he gave his own critique.
“You know, Mom, some of this is probably true.  But, you know what really upsets me?  She didn’t criticize your book.  She criticized you.  And she doesn’t even know you.”
[To continue reading, join me here at the Wordserve Water Cooler.]

Marketing 101: Know Yourself. Be Yourself. Stop Whining.

How do you best market yourself as a writer (and a person)?

In one short post, I’m going to share my playbook.  I’m linking up with Rachelle Gardner and my fellow colleagues at WordServe Literary to give away some unsolicited marketing secrets.

Don’t read this post if you are looking for a shortcut to building a platform.  I don’t have one.  And please don’t read this if you’re looking for time-saving secrets on social media, online communities, or networking with other bloggers.  Sorry.  I don’t have easy answers.  While I engage in all of these strategies, I’d like to share a different perspective.

Know yourself.  Be yourself.  Stop whining.

1)  Know Yourself.

You want practical advice, not a soap box.  Right?  I get it.  So here’s how “knowing myself” has worked so far.

First, I know my limitations.  I have no time to waste.  I’m a too-busy lawyer with three small kids and a husband who already thinks I’m stretched 100 ways too many.  Does this stop me?  Of course not.  I just have to make choices. 

  • I shoot for quality, not quantity.  I choose to connect with other writers and readers that are like-minded – people who inspire and sharpen me, regardless of what they can “do” for me.  And while I’m not making the biggest splash around, it’s been incredibility meaningful.  Meaning motivates me.
  • I hang out on Twitter because it’s fun and efficient.  Of all the social media vehicles, I like Twitter the best.  It’s fast, fun, and incredibly efficient.  I’ve been on Twitter for less than a year, and it’s hands down driven more traffic to my blog than any other source. 
  • I’ve joined one online community, and I’m committed.  About a year ago, I joined The High Calling as a contributing editor.  I guess you could say it’s part of my marketing plan, but that’s not why I do it.  I feel at home there.  It’s a place I’d hang out even if I bagged the whole writing scene.  
  • I’m in it for the long haul.  There’s no quick fix.  I know that my personal platform is going to happen brick by brick.  I’m not looking for quick results, just measurable progress over time. 

2)  Be Yourself. 

Now, you may wonder what this has to do with marketing.  Stick with me, it’s a fair question.

When I was a young trial lawyer, an old pro pulled me aside (come to think of it, I think he smacked me over the head) and gave me some key advice.

“Always be yourself in front of the jury.  If you act fake, they can see right through it.”

Pretty good, huh?

I happen to think readers are a lot like jurors.  So in this world of marketing madness on steroids, I’ve decided to just be me.  I just can’t fake the whole networking thing.  If I went around leaving random comments on blogs that said, “Please follow me and I’ll follow you back” I think I would shoot myself.  (I don’t do auto messages either.)

The good news?  If I’m networking with you, it means I actually like you.  I’m not faking it.

Besides, being myself is the one thing I can do better than anybody else.  (You probably have that same gift.)

3)  Quit Whining.

Writers love to whine (present company especially included).  We have it so hard, don’t we?

Lisa doesn’t work outside her home.  Of course, she has all the time in the world to market and network.

Terry developed a platform because he has a big endorser.  It must be nice.  I don’t know anyone important.

Marketing isn’t what I signed up for.  I just want to write, ok? 

I’m an artist!  Marketing is beneath me.

Excuses, excuses.  Does this sound familiar?

Look, we all know that marketing doesn’t drive us to write.  Writing drives us to market.   You may think marketing is just a necessary evil (or just plain evil) but if you are passionate about getting your message out to other people, you’re going to have to sell yourself to an audience. 

So stop whining and get to work!

Yeah, the work involves things like blogging and networking – the things I already told you I haven’t mastered.  But if you set your mindset first – know yourself, be yourself, and quit whining – it might not be as tough as you think.

It’s actually tougher!

[If you care to continue the discussion on all things writing, please join me and my WordServe colleagues daily at the WordServe Water Cooler.  I'm thrilled to be part of this newly-launched community of talented writers.]

Hate Mail

Two dogs in hallway, one with paw on letter

On Friday, we talked about Fan Mail.  It’s Monday. And Monday is a good time to tackle the hard issues.  So today we’re addressing a more difficult topic: hate mail. 

I’ve written about Dealing With Negative Feedback before.  But hate mail is different.  Hate mail isn’t constructive, it’s destructive.  It’s one thing to disagree with someone.  It’s another thing to tear them apart.

Every writer who says something slightly provocative or controversial is a target for hate mail.  And hate mail can come in many forms – including blog posts, anononoymous comments, emails, and letters.  Hate mail never intends to start a discussion.  The goal is to silence.

Let me give you a hypothetical. 

Hate-Mail Helen reads Chasing Superwoman, and she thinks I’m evil.  She posts on her blog that I’m an unfit mother, declares that I’m not a real “Christian” and she even attacks my children.

Should I respond?

As I see it, here are my options. 

1.  Ignore Helen.  I don’t have to engage.  Hate-Mail Helen probably just wants attention.  And she doesn’t want to have a dialogue.  So I shouldn’t respond.  Instead, I can seek support from people I respect and trust.  At the end of the day, I don’t answer to Helen. 

2.  Respond directly. I can also confront Helen. I can call her on the carpet – and I can even take an army of bloggers with me!  We can post thoughtful yet pointed comments on her blog.  Or I can write her a private email, explaining that I’m really not Evil Mommy (it was just a joke in the book), and she shouldn’t be so judgmental. 

3.  Respond indirectly.  Maybe I won’t post a comment on Helen’s blog.  Instead, I’ll write a few of my own posts to address Helen’s comments. I’ll talk about how deep my faith is, and how my kids are really well-adjusted and obedient (at least most of the time).  We can even poke some fun at Helen’s comments – just to show how silly they really are. 

4.  Write a response, but don’t send it.  This may be my favorite option.  The lawyer in me really wants to respond to Helen.  But I know there’s probably no point.  I know it’s wrong to strike back.  But I really want to have the last word.  I want to set the record straight, even if no one will read it.

I’ll have to admit, I really don’t like any of these options.  Probably because I really don’t like hate mail.

How would you respond to Hate-Mail Helen?

Fan Mail

USA, California, Los Angeles

Writers live for fan mail.  And even though we try not to exist for the approval of others, it sure feels good when someone says, “You’re a really great writer” or “You really helped me think about this in a new way.”
I have a folder that I keep of “fans” – people who have gone out of their way to encourage me on my writing journey.  Some of them I’ve never met.  Some of them I haven’t talked to in years.  But I consider them all dear friends.

Today, I thought I’d share about a special relationship I’ve developed with a woman named Linda.

Linda isn’t a blogger.  She isn’t a writer.  And she isn’t a working mom.

Linda is a devoted wife, mother, and grandma.  And her daughter-in-law works in a fast-paced career with small children.  So when she heard about Chasing Superwoman, she reached out to me and said, “I get it!  You have my full support!”

I met Linda at my first book signing in North Canton, Ohio.  And we became instant friends.  Linda sends me encouraging emails.  She prays for me.  And when I’m really struggling, I know I can reach out to Linda for support and say, “Help, I need a few extra prayers today!”

In fact, some days when I wonder – Why do I keep writing these posts? Who the heck is going to read this anyway? – I think about Linda.  Linda will read this.  Linda is listening.  Linda is cheering me on.
We all need a Linda, don’t we?

(If you’re thinking –Wow, this is really a touchy-feely post — don’t worry.  We’ll be coming back to reality on Monday when we talk about hate mail.  Have a good weekend!)

Tuesday Tip: Dealing With Negative Feedback

People Holding Scorecards

If you write (and you decide to go public), you’re going to get your share of reactions.  Some of them will be good.  And, as I’ve recently learned, some of them will be not so good.

Most of us are pretty good at dealing with positive feedback.  But negative feedback?  Not so much.  As much as we say it doesn’t matter, negative comments always hurt – especially when they’re personal.

So, from a first-time author who’s only had one book released for a month, here are 10 tips I’ve learned so far.

1.  It goes with the territory.  If you are going to write a book, expect it.  No one is exempt from criticism.  (And, if people are talking about your book, at least they’re reading it!)

2.  Consider the source.  Who is making the comment?  Is it a random blogger who doesn’t even have an identifiable profile?  Is it someone outside your target audience?  Or, is it a credible voice in the writing community, or a leader from an audience you intend to reach?

3.  Don’t strike back.  As tempting as it is to respond to every comment, don’t.  In most cases, it’s not worth trying to “set the record straight.”  Especially if the attacks are personal, resist the temptation to join the mud-slinging.

4.  Learn from it.  Is the comment valid?  Does it present a common message or theme?  If so, you can become a better person (and a better writer) by taking the comment to heart. 

5.  Seek wisdom.  Talk to the friends and colleagues you respect in the writing community.  After all, when you’re in the midst of receiving criticism, it’s hard to be objective.  Sometimes, you need a lens.  In my case, I went to Rachelle Gardner, who gave me some great insights, as well as some helpful posts.

6.  Seek support.  In addition to seeking wisdom from those in the writing world, we all need our family and friends – especially those outside the writing world – to keep us sane.  My niece, Laura, wrote me a prayer last week that I will hold dear forever.  And my girlfriends will gladly take my side on just about anything!

7.  Don’t take it personally.  Usually, those criticizing you don’t know you.  Take the constructive feedback, and leave the personal attacks at the door.  And, as several wise friends have reminded me, God alone knows your heart. 

8.  Find the silver lining. I was putting my 9-year-old son, Nick, to bed last week, and I told him that a few women who read the book had attacked my busy lifestyle—questioning whether I could really be a good mother.  He said, “wow, that’s really mean.”  But then he said, “I think they are giving you a compliment.  What they’re really saying is that they know they have it easier than you.”  (See Romans 8:28.)

9.  You can’t please everyone.  Everyone isn’t going to like your book.  Everyone isn’t going to like you.  As writers, our goal in life should not be to please everyone.  Can you think of a single writer you respect who has both intended and succeeded to be a universal people pleaser?  Even if it you wanted to achieve this goal, it’s not possible.

10.  Numbers 1-9 are easier said than done.  As much as my head knows that the above tips are true, my heart still wants to wallow in self-protection and even a little pity.  I know full well that I can only respond to criticism through the grace of God – with much patience, prayer, and practice.  The fact is, I’m not very good at it, but I’m getting better. 

Please help me refine my tips — I have a feeling I’m going to get to practice these tips over and over again!

How do you deal with negative feedback?

(After writing this post, I continued to find more helpful tips — such as a post by Laura Boggess, Wanted:  Friendly Reader, at High Calling Blogs.)