Friday, April 5, 2013

Lessons Learned the Hard Way: Jean Oram

All professions have a learning curve and writing is no exception. Yet in writing more than other professions, you're on your own. It's a solitary job after all, which means important aspects of the task sometimes get missed. These posts will be a chance for writers to mentor other writers through their confessions of lessons they learned. Lessons that might have been as painful as a pencil poke in the eye.

This post is a little bit different this week. Jean Oram, moderator from AQC, is here to share some of what she learned about being an author. The first part of her post is here on my blog. To read the rest of her post which applies more to her self-publishing journey, you'll have to go her blog. The link will be at the bottom. I read her book in less than two days. Fantastically written, the characters kept me guessing until the last moment. A very enjoyable read!

Last month I took the plunge and published one of my favourite manuscripts, Champagne and Lemon Drops, which had been soundly rejected by publishing house editors and literary agents. They liked it, but couldn't sell it. Chick lit was dead. (Although, apparently not if you give it away as a free ebook! Chick lit is still alive and well and still throbbing hearts within the indie circles.)

Michelle asked me to share a few of the lessons I've learned since my book’s launch. I had so many things pop to mind—many of which most authors don’t warn you about—that Michelle and I decided to break my list into two posts. This post, here on Michelle’s blog are all-round tips that can benefit both traditionally and independently (self-published) authors whereas the other half of the tips posted on my blog, The Helpful Writer, are must-read tips for indie authors (even though they can also help the traditional author). Both lists can benefit all authors and we encourage you to read them both.

Hold onto your hats! Here we go.

1. Edits will take at least twice as long as you think they will. And a part of you will always want to do another round—even though edits can be tiring and difficult. Start early on your edits. Always.

2. Pay it forward with other authors out of the goodness of your heart. Look for ways to help others without expectation and you will be stunned by how absolutely amazing and wonderful these people are when your book comes out. Warm and fuzzies!

3. Be kind. Always. Always. Always.

4. Make sure your website and social media profiles are up-to-date well ahead of time. At launch this is the last thing you want to stress about.

5. Have a prominent sign up link on your website’s homepage so readers who come check you out can sign up for new book updates. i.e. an author newsletter. This is a great way to stay connected to your readers so they don’t forget about you between books.

6. Join a posse of people who know what they're doing. Support systems rock and it is nice to have people who know the ins and outs of publishing and can help out, answer questions, chat, etc. Publishing can feel like a solitary endeavour, but it doesn't have to. You can also cross-promote and have fun while marketing and holding contests!

7. Visibility. The biggest thing that can go wrong with your book is obscurity. Books need readers. Get out there and get your book out there. There are tons of reading sites that are looking for new release books, books to review, etc. This can be time consuming, but this is why you have #6--your posse. Share your tips and resources with each other. Publishers can't do everything these days.

8. Read up on social media marketing and your form of publishing at least six months in advance. Practice and learn ahead of time while the stakes are low. You don't want to make a bunch of newbie mistakes and blunders and turn off readers or start freaking out because you don’t understand what you are doing right around book launch. (BTW, a great example of knowing the ropes would be learning about promotion on Facebook ahead of time so when you go to promote your book or a giveaway you don't end up in Facebook jail and with your account locked--it's happened to more authors than you may realize! All because they didn't do their research and made (reasonable) assumptions about what would be acceptable terms of use with using Facebook.)

 9. Watch for book pirates! Eek and arrr!

10. Verbal blurb. People--in real life--are going to ask what your book is about. You have your written descriptions and likely a tagline, but in real life you need something simple that will start conversations AND roll off the tongue. It has to feel natural and be easy to remember. (As well as be intriguing.)

11. Write the next book. Always be writing the next book and let your readers know you are working on it. They love the feeling of knowing what an author is up to. It feels personal and they become invested in this new product before it is finished. Plus, more books equal more exposure, more readers, and more hooks out there in the world. It is also your best publicity. Me? I'm about 1/4 of the way through the first draft for book two of the Blueberry Springs series.

How about you? What lessons have you learned on the path to launching a book? (You can include things you’ve learned from watching others.) Let us know in the comment section.

P.S. Don't forget to read part 2 on The Helpful Writer.


You can check out Jean's book, Champagne and Lemon Drops: A Blueberry Springs Chick Lit Contemporary Romance for free on, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords (with more vendors to come).

Champagne and Lemon Drops: A Blueberry Springs Chick Lit Contemporary Romance
One woman. Two men. One meddling small town. Raised by her older sister in the small town of Blueberry Springs, all Beth Wilkinson wants is to create a family so big she’ll never be alone. Things are going great until her accountant fiancĂ©, Oz, throws their life in the air, sending her on a journey of discovery paved with choices--including whether to return to her old life.


  1. Number 3 is a big thing for me. I don't like mean authors D: Great list!

  2. Are you kidding? I snagged the book as soon as I could get my greasy little hands on it.

    As someone who is going to *breathe, TJ, breathe* self pub this summer, I began researching before I started writing. If I'm going to do it, I'm going to do my darndest to do it right.

    You're the best Jean :) (From a now dedicated fan to Blueberry Springs)

  3. Thanks for the compliment, Michelle, as well as having me on your blog.

    SC, I agree wholeheartedly! I loooooove it when my author heroes tweet me back and turn out to be just the most amazing people. It always wins me over.

    TJ, that is fantastic! You can do it, girl! And yes, breathe!!! That should totally be added to the list. And I'm happy to have you as a fan. *warm and fuzzies*

    Have a great weekend!

  4. Downloaded her book here as well! Great advice Jean. I seriously think you can never stop revisions as there is no way to possibly attain perfection, even though we try.

    And the idea to let them know the next book is coming is good. It does forge that valuable relationship between reader & writer.

    Go Blueberry Springs! Let's hope it becomes as familiar to readers as Mayberry was to tv viewers. Wish you continued success Jean and to Michelle w/KINDAR'S CURE coming out soon!

  5. LOVE Jean's book!!! SO good! :)

    Great advice too - prepping in advance for social media is very smart - maybe it's time for me to finally join FB after all!

  6. Thanks Joey and Jemi.

    I'm glad you've enjoyed the book.