How to Help Sophomore (or any) Authors (err, especially me)

Last year, I wrote a blog post of How to Help Debut Authors. It proved very popular and people still poke around on it, so I thought I’d write a follow up due to Shadowplay’s imminent release. I know a little bit more than I did last year, though I still feel like I have so much to learn! This was also inspired by Myke Cole’s recent excellent blog post “How You Can Help my Career” (which you should all read).

I need your help, and I’m not too coy to ask for it, though I do feel a little vulnerable doing so. Self-promoting can be difficult, but writing a frank post like this is different and even harder.

Writing is my dream. I’ve been wanting to do it professionally for the last ten years. I write for myself, because I love daydreaming and creating worlds and characters. I love fitting together pieces of plot and having the whole story come alive. But I don’t just write for me. I write for you.

I love telling stories, and I love that now people can read them. Pantomime might not have had stellar sales and become the next Harry Potter (not that I expected it to), but it was well-received critically and it was short-listed and long-listed for some awards, which I secretly hoped would happen but didn’t really expect would. I’ve received some beautiful bits of reader mail or reviews that have made me cry. I’ve had people say my books touched them to the core, that they wish they could have read it as a teenager, that they changed their viewpoint on gender and sexuality. I’ve had people say they stayed up all night to read it. That is so overwhelmingly wonderful. It’s a dream come true.

My biggest fear is that I’ll lose this dream, just after I grasped it. And some of that is irrational fear and anxiety, but writing is not the most predictable and stable of careers. I don’t make a living wage from my writing, and likely won’t for a while yet. And they say you’re only as good as your last book. And so that’s why I’m asking for help for my latest book. Please help me make Shadowplay thrive.

Micah Grey is an intersex, bisexual character, and the series also has several characters who are GLBT or POC. People have told me the books are too niche, that because of the GLBT angle it’ll never have huge sales or be considered commercial. Maybe that’s true. Maybe it’s not. I’d love to prove them wrong, but mainly I want my books to stay in print and be available to those who want to read them.

If you want to help me, my books, and my career, here’s what you can do:

1. Pre-order Shadowplay. As ever, supporting with your dollar/pound/currency of choice would help me the most. Debuts live and die by the numbers, and it’s just as important for further instalments in a series. I want to write more Micah Grey books. I’ve said before that my end-plan would be to write 6 Micah Grey books – three of him as a teen and three of him 10 years later. I mean, I’m pretty sure I’ll write them regardless, but sales numbers would perhaps impact whether they’re released by a publisher or self-published by me. First week sales will definitely, definitely make a difference to my career, and my publisher will pay attention to the first month’s sales especially. Any format is fine – e-book, Amazon, from a brick and mortar store. Anything would help. If you received an e-galley via Netgalley, perhaps consider buying a beautiful finished paperback copy, or a copy to give to a friend or family member? Pre-order links can be found here.

2. Purchase Pantomime. I’ve been noticing an upswing in Pantomime’s reviews and rankings and such recently, which is really good to see. It means that word of mouth is possibly spreading, or when people see stuff for Shadowplay they’re checking out Pantomime. Pantomime’s e-book was recently on sale for £1 and I think that helped get the word out. Christmas is coming up – I’m not above kindly asking if you wouldn’t mind purchasing a copy for a present for someone else if you enjoyed it? If you’ve never heard of me or Pantomime before but stumbled across this post, I hope you’ll perhaps consider starting at the beginning of the series and be drawn into Micah’s world and story. You can learn more about my first book here.

3. Cross-posting reviews. If you’ve written a review and put it on Goodreads/a blog, please consider also posting it to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, or anywhere else like that. A lot of casual readers only look at Amazon or other bookstore websites, and so having extra reviews would be useful. Also, evidently if there are more reviews, it can impact algorithms and make Amazon and other websites promote it more. If you haven’t written a review of Pantomime or Shadowplay, a quick little one or two line one would be very helpful, or even just leaving a star rating.

4. Help spread the word. My blog tour for Shadowplay is about to kick off. I’ve already started posting teasers of the opening quotes from each chapter here to my blog and cross-posting them to my FB author page, Tumblr, and Twitter and that’ll be ongoing (see them all here). Guest posts and interviews will start pretty soon. I’d greatly appreciate retweets, shares, blogs, and what have you to help spread the word further than my immediate online circle (who must be getting tired of hearing about my books by now).

But then there’s all the offline stuff – telling your friends and family members about my books. Telling librarians or teachers you know and seeing if they can order copies into their libraries. Going into a bookstore and if you don’t see it on the shelves, asking them to order it in, or telling booksellers that you really liked it. All that stuff can make such a huge, huge difference. I’m happy to do my own promo, but there’s really only so much I can do. I love doing guest blogs, interviews, school visits, book festivals, book signings and launches, and I’ll continue to do that. But really, readers are everything. You hold the power.

Obviously, this sort of thing can help any author, so even if my books aren’t your cup of tea, please consider doing some of these things for your favourite authors. Even if they never know you did it, they’ll be so grateful.

So, here’s me being frank, and open, and honest. In closing, I want to thank each and every person who read my books, whether in the end you liked them or not. Thank you so much for taking a chance on my words. Thank you to those who wrote reviews, took the time to tell me you enjoyed them, invited me to events, shared things around the internet, and told friends and family about my work. Thank you so very, very much. None of this would be possible without you, and I hope, so much, that it’s something I can keep doing for a long time.

Laura x


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