I spent the last few Tuesday evenings with a group of ladies from my church talking about my latest release, ENTANGLED. I admit, the thought of a book club where I’m the author and the attendees are people I’m acquainted with made me pretty nervous, but these ladies have been such an encouragement. ENTANGLED was a hard book to write and to watch them dive into the chapters, finish in one setting, and be so passionate about the men in the story and who the heroine should end up with, it’s been fun.
As I prepare discussion questions, I also share behind-the-scenes tidbits. Some secrets are about my own motivations or facts about that chapter. Sometimes I share author information about the writing process. Whatever I choose, the ladies often have their jaws open. Readers don’t always understand what goes into writing a book.
Here are some of the surprising things they are learning.
- A book never publishes after one draft. Not a good one, anyway. For me, I think I completely started ENTANGLED from scratch three times. I struggled with it. Sometimes my heroine was too unlikeable and I had to soften her. Other times I couldn’t make the plot work the way I wanted. Whatever the case, there were a few drafts and many revisions for each chapter.
- Authors have tough lives. The hours are long and isolating. Very few authors are able to write full-time, so you may know them first as teachers, lawyers, nurses, receptionists, daycare workers. There are authors who rise before dawn to get some words on paper before the kids rise and they have to move on to the next part of their day. They also have real problems. Mortgages to pay. Prodigal children. Spouses that leave. Aging parents. It is not a glamourous life.
- This might not be the case for other authors, but for me, sometimes the book takes on a of its own and I don’t like it. I can’t say too much here because I want you to read ENTANGLED, but there are things that happen so I could have a story for ENGAGED that I didn’t like. I fought it, but the plot had spoken. Thing is, readers love the way it worked, so I’m glad I lost that inner battle.
- Reviews are vital. Amazon will show something like “Here’s what else readers bought” and feature your book if you have I think a dozen reviews. After 50 reviews, Amazon makes things more visible. Especially as an Indie author, the more reviews you can have, the better and more visible I can be. For authors, three stars or less is tough, but you want readers to be honest. I can’t say enough how reviews drive a book. I always encourage readers to at least write a review for Amazon and Goodreads.
- Word of mouth is just as crucial. Readers were surprised at how much marketing authors have to put in. They thought the book goes on shelves, on Amazon, and done. Not so. I am having trouble finding that balance between writing more so I have more books to offer and marketing what I have available. The best marketing is positive word of mouth and I can’t reach everyone. But readers—if they told co workers, family, friends, others in waiting rooms, etc…it works. Your opinion matters and we authors need you.
If you are an author, I challenge you to host a book club. It’s intimidating, but I’m so glad I’m doing it. It’s helping me with my writing and connecting with the people I value, readers.
If you’re a reader and looking for a book to talk about, I hope you consider ENTRUSTED and ENTANGLED. I’d be happy to FaceTime/Skype with you for one of your meetings and connect with you. I am hoping to do an online book club, probably via Facebook, starting in October. I’ll start with ENTRUSTED and then ENTANGLED. Want to stay updated on that? Join my free monthly newsletter so you have the latest news.
If you enjoy non fiction, I’m leading a study on Lysa TerKeurst’s newest release, Uninvited: Living Loved When You Feel Less Than, Left Out, and Lonely. Starting in September we will meet in a closed Facebook group once a week for an hour to discuss the chapters. Interested? Request to join the group.