Publishing World Wisdom from Laurie Stevens
We're joined today by another fellow Blackbird Writer, Laurie Stevens, who is sharing her wisdom on what she wishes she could tell her prepublished self as well as what she always does to make book launches successful.
As a second-generation California native. she's lived in the Los Angeles area her whole life. After graduating UCLA's Theatre/Film/Television program, she went on to work such diverse jobs as babysitting a super-agent's girlfriend and sipping cappuccinos at Armani in Beverly Hills while her boss tried on clothing. She then worked for Columbia Records in product marketing, at which time she decided to become a rock star. When that didn't pan out, she quit the record company to pursue writing on a full time basis; a decision which caused her mother to label her a "Bohemian." Her pursuit of a writing career led her to become a sales supervisor of a telemarketing room--which became the inspiration for the play, "Follow Your Dreams," which she co-wrote and co-produced with Ronald Jacobs, and which ran for 8 weeks in L.A. She's worked alongside her husband in his closeout business and wrote two psychological suspense novels, all the while raising two wonderful kids. Following an opportunity to submit self-published books to the London agency AM Heath, she signed with an agent for worldwide rights. Within a couple of months the books went to auction, and Blanvalet/Random House published the German versions. She's am now what's known as a "hybrid" author, being both self-published and traditionally published, Her articles and short stories have appeared in various publications and anthologies. The Gabriel McRay books have won multiple awards.
What do you wish you could tell your pre-published self?
I was quite the dreamer, and I staunchly believed that dreams come true. I only wish I could have told my pre-published self that, unlike when you sleep, dreams don’t simply unfold. Life unfolds.
Having big dreams, I set the bar very high for myself, which, on one hand kept me striving – working-- toward success. That’s not a bad thing, except that I kept comparing my achievements to my dream of success.
I wish I would have celebrated the fact that I set my life up in a way that allowed me to pursue a creative passion. I wish I had wholeheartedly embraced my other talents, which helped me then and still do to this day. I kept my focus on the end result, and could have enjoyed the journey more.
As I mentioned, life unfolds. “Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans.”
(Although attributed to John Lennon, the January 1957 “Reader’s Digest” magazine printed a version of the above saying and attributed it to a guy named Allen Saunders. I’m an author. Giving proper credit is important.)
I quote that worthy statement, because it’s so true. I ended up running a business with my husband, which put food on the table and gave us a nice life. Before that time, I had no idea I could be a good business-person. Being in business taught me to have a more realistic attitude toward my writing, although, weirdly enough, I still held myself accountable to a dream-standard. Not healthy.
Because I worked with my husband, I could pick my hours, and that gave me a lot of wiggle-room in regard to raising kids and writing books. I managed to do it all. I even wrote and produced a play that ran eight weeks in Los Angeles while working and being a hands-on mom.
I didn’t, however, give myself much credit for all this, and, in fact, hobbled myself by comparing my success to writers who were at the top of the bestsellers’ list (part of the dream).
Even when I got an agent, signed with Random House, and saw my book series optioned, not once, but three times for film/TV, it still wasn’t enough.
What would I tell my pre-published self?
Work steadily toward your goal, but don’t hang your self-worth on it. Enjoy the journey because being a creative person makes you special enough. Embrace the other aspects of your life even if they don’t fit your “dream” because they are manifesting for a reason. Looking back with 20/20 vision, I can absolutely attest to that. If you’re crazy serious about success (and God knows, you don’t have to be), treat your writing as a business and less like a dream. Keep the dreamy parts in your stories.
What is one thing you always do to help make your new book launches successful?
Loaded question, because there is more than one thing that goes into a successful book launch. I could name a half-dozen off the bat, but, cornered, I will offer up one suggestion: Contests.
Running a contest or giveaway is a great way to grab readers’ attention because it makes them excited to participate in your launch. They spread the word by broadcasting your book to their friends and followers. Having multiple authors join forces for a group book giveaway is even better because you get a cross-promotion. Add a fun prize besides the books (some swag, for example), and get even more action.
Let’s look at the flipside and talk about you entering your book in a contest.
If you win, or even get an “honorable mention,” you get a lot of mileage off that.
First off, you’ve earned the right to blitz about the win on social media, which, of course, does the same thing as getting a top trade review. People want to read a book that others consider a winner.
Secondly, you have a legit (hopefully) organization who ran the contest and is now promoting your book across all their platforms. You will gain new readers and followers from their email lists and viewership.
Third, the win never disappears. You stick that info on your website, on your email signature, wherever YOU or the book are found. The phrase “award-winning” when applied to an author, a book, or a book series is everlasting.
I’ve scrolled through lists of books and paused on an “award-winner.” Why not? It’s an eye-catcher.
Lastly, a contest win serves as positive affirmation, which will kickstart your next book and keep you writing!
Learn more about Laurie on her website at: https://lauriestevensbooks.com/
Laurie is the author of the Gabriel McCray psychological suspense series.
The Dark Before Dawn (book 1)
Deep Into Dusk (book 2)
The Mask of Midnight (book 3)
In Twilight's Hush (book 4)
From Book 1: High in the Santa Monica Mountains near Los Angeles, grisly murders are taking place. On each of the victim's bodies a note is left for L.A. Sheriff's detective, Gabriel McRay. The killer's identity is locked in the suppressed memory of a horrifying trauma from Gabriel's own childhood. Teamed with his forensic pathologist girlfriend and his psychiatrist, Gabriel runs two parallel investigations. The first: a dark journey into the terrifying recollections of his past and the second: the hunt for a serial killer who seems to know more about Gabriel... than he knows himself.