I rose early this morning – 4:30-ish – to trek across the city of Dallas and meet with a fellow writer who wanted some advice on kick-starting her writing business. We’re also involved in a mystery-writing critique group, so the foggy mist that obscured the White Rock Lake area along Northwest Highway seemed the perfect setting for our get-together. It was literally so foggy that I held the wheel with both hands and peered over it into a pea-soup cloud. The good news – all the traffic was headed west, and I was going east, so I didn’t have to worry about cars right around me as I strained my eyes to see the lane markings. Meeting at 6:30 a.m. is a rare event for me. But J. is a rare friend, and I didn’t mind giving up a little sleep to meet with her.
Today my friend wanted to talk more about business-oriented writing services rather than our usual creative novel-writing pursuits. Like many experienced writers she is learning to transition from traditional marketing to the new age of social media, with all its complexities. We had a great brain-storming session and she left with some good ideas about how to promote her work. She wants a website, so my suggestion was to use WordPress as her starting point, because it is intuitive, easy to use, and free or low-cost, depending upon the options chosen. I encouraged her to set up a LinkedIn profile, but I’m not sure she is ready to do so. I also showed her a blog post by Carol Tice, whose blog and website I’ve found both practical and thought-provoking. Carol is a successful free-lance writer and award-winning blogger who recently wrote about where her writing business came from in 2011.
There are other options, of course. Using the telephone to contact her targeted customers is one possibility, with a follow-up letter and/or email. She might consider doing a newsletters using an online tool like ConstantContact, iContact, or AWeber, but a traditional printed newsletter might be an option for her, also. She can do it on her computer and have it printed at an office supply store like Office Depot. We also discussed magazines that use free-lance writers and would be interested in her travel-writing skills. Please note that the advice I gave her was geared to someone who is not yet comfortable with social media. It’s about dangling one’s legs in the water and adjusting at a slower pace rather than diving in headfirst.
I’m eager to see where my friend goes from here. J. has many years of experience in writing, ghost-writing, travel writing, resume writing and editing books and marketing materials for all kinds of businesses, so I know she’ll do well with her writing endeavors. I’m also hoping to see her pursue her dream of self-publishing the mystery novels she has written, since she’s one of the best writers I’ve ever read – honestly – and her work should be out there for readers to find. She’s a published writer already, but she doesn’t currently have an agent or publisher. That shouldn’t hold her back. Lots of writers are finding success by self-publishing. It’s a brave new world, and everyone – writers, publishers, agents, and even readers – is learning to swim in unfamiliar waters without any floaties.
I’ll keep you posted once she gets her online presence in place. And I guarantee you, her books will not begin with “It was a dark and stormy night….” and they will keep you perched on the edge of your easy chair, reading long past your bedtime.