I had Presidents' Day off as a paid holiday yesterday. My husband had to work. I envisioned my usual routine when this happens, spending an entire day on the computer, grinding away on my fiction. I certainly have enough projects to keep me busy.
But one of my 2016 resolutions is to pace myself. I spent half the day working on my fiction. Midday, I met my writing friend and marketing mentor Liesa Malik for coffee in Castle Rock. We noticed an Italian restaurant next door, and opted for a real lunch instead of coffee shop fare.
Rose's Bella Cucina had just unlocked the door. The staff had not recovered from the Valentine's Day crowd the previous day. The waiter was extremely gracious, allowing us to sit at a table and chat while the restaurant readied for the lunch crowd. We spent over two hours talking about the craft and business of fiction while enjoying an amazing Mediterranean pizza and a salad large enough to feed a family.
When we first sat down, Liesa opened her satchel and extracted two writing books and a notepad. I was in for a treat as she shared recently acquired knowledge about making our websites more appealing and hunting for an agent. We discussed strategies for finding homes for our orphaned third novels. On the craft side of the discussion, I offered advice on learning the art of the short story.
Liesa is amazing at brainstorming marketing strategies. I felt lost as she began a quest to pinpoint our target audience. As authors of amateur sleuth murder mysteries, we are trying to attract the same readers. The attempt felt hopeless to me, but Liesa persisted. Before long, she had a list of qualities we think our readers share. Then the creative juices really began to flow. Liesa jotted down potential ways to draw readers to our websites. Readers visit an author's site to learn more about his or her books, sure, but a tedious buy-my-book plea turns people off. We're competing with other authors, and information overload. What will bring our readers back? You'll see some of these ideas implemented in the next few months.
Liesa has an infectious optimism, which is refreshing in the tough business of publishing. We discussed the pursuit of the next phases of our fiction writing careers. She pushed me to think of new possibilities. When she pitched one idea to me - writing non-fiction articles - I insisted it wouldn't work. I didn't have the time. As we continued talking, I realized I was already following her suggestion, in a different way. I write articles for Pikes Peak writers, and share informative blog posts on writers' loops. I do this for free.
Brainstorm - Liesa talked about self-publishing writing how-to articles. I have heard other folks pitch this idea. Definitely something to look into.
After our long lunch break, Liesa and I parted ways. When I arrived home, what did I do? Jump back into polishing a novel, of course!