Building a Following is a Marathon, Not a Sprint,
Says Corporate Exec-Turned-Novelist
If you want people to read your book, you have to be more than a talented storyteller or researcher – you will need plenty of persistence, says Darlene Quinn, a 75-year-old award-winning novelist whose passion for the written word trumped her lucrative position as a top executive at the legendary Bullocks Wilshire department stores.
“Sometimes an author has it easy; either they’re already a celebrity, or their name has been widely reported in a major public scandal – or both – but not even those criteria guarantee readership,” says Quinn, author of "Unpredictable Webs", (www.darlenequinn.net), the newest in her stand-alone series of suspense-filled dramatic novels.
“Many authors will tell you just don’t get into the book-writing business, because writing something that people will want to read is challenge enough. Then you face the daunting process of getting people to buy it!”
She offers these tips for getting your book in front of the masses – and enticing them to buy it.
• Draw on the strengths that helped you meet previous challenges: Quinn found professional footing decades ago, in a time when it was rare for women to rise to executive positions. After earning a bachelor’s at San Jose State University, she became a schoolteacher. She later climbed her way up to working as a department store executive during a time of tremendous upheaval in the retail fashion industry. The tenacity and perseverance required to achieve that dream served her well when she fixed on another dream – writing – late in life. She sharpened her writing chops by penning articles for trade journals, magazines and newspapers.
• Book awards: Simply entering your book in a contest gives it some exposure. Should it be selected for an award, you’ve got a great marketing tool that can open doors otherwise closed to you. Awards sticker or seals, which can be added to the book cover, can help persuade book stores to carry it. The press release announcing winners of local, national or international book awards also trigger Google Alerts, positively increasing exposure. Announcements of winners prior to publication alert avid readers to upcoming releases.
• Book awards II: Do your research; make sure that the contest is well-established and legit. Read the rules, and if at all possible, research the judges who will be reviewing the books. Try to avoid contests that have high entry fees and those that appear to be non-discriminating. National and international contests such as the Indie Book Awards, Writers Digest Book Awards, USA Best Book Awards Reader’s Favorites, and International Best Book Award (sponsored by USA Book News) are just a few respectable contests that meet these criteria. There are also many legitimate regional and local book contests to consider.
• Quality in every respect: With power comes responsibility. In the past, the only real hope an author had of being read by anyone beyond his or her immediate family was going through a major publisher. Today, authors can take production matters into their own hands with self- or independent publishing, which may lead to a contract with a major book company. Either way, a writer should ensure quality in every aspect -- from the plot and characters, to the cover art, design and paper. Make sure the book is edited by an objective professional.
About Darlene Quinn
Darlene Quinn is an author and journalist from Long Beach, Calif., whose novels about deceit, intrigue and glamour in the retail fashion industry were inspired by her years with Bullocks Wilshire specialty department stores. Her newest, Unpredictable Webs, is the winner of the Beverly Hills Book Awards for Excellence in Fiction and was selected as the number-one President's choice before publication. The novel continues her series, including Webs of Fate, which won the 2011 Reader's Favorites Award before it hit bookshelves; Webs of Power, winner of a 2009 National Indie Excellence Award, and Twisted Webs, winner of the 2011 International Book Award for General Fiction and the 2011 National Indie Excellence Awards for General Fiction.