Publishing World Wisdom from Sharon Lynn
We're joined today by another fellow Blackbird Writer, Sharon Lynn, 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. Sharon’s Cotswold Crimes Mystery series is a delight to read. (Check out more about these books below!)
Her novels and short stories are about courageous, clever women solving suspenseful mysteries, with the vibrant cultures and scandalous crimes of Arizona and Southern California serving as the inspirations for many of those stories. Although it was living in England as a teenager, and every return trip since that inspired the setting of her debut series, A Cotswold Crimes Mysteries (Death Takes a Bath – Book One and Death Takes a Fall – Book Two.) Sharon is a professor of theater, film, and writing. Her husband and a border collie/mini-Aussie mix keep her entertained and on track. Her passions are storytelling, mentoring young writers and filmmakers, traveling, and cooking.
Three things I would tell my pre-published self if I could:
Number one: to never, ever give up. Rejection is a part of the process and should be expected, planned for, and embraced. If that agent doesn’t want your manuscript, then you don’t want them. I wrote my first novel over two decades ago when my daughter was a baby. A mystery about a new mother, it incorporated many of my insecurities and frustrations (will the laundry ever be done?) I’ve never gone back and looked at it, but I did enjoy the process, and the ‘who dunnit’ was rather clever.
When completed, I sent it to a grand total of one publisher and no agents.
I didn’t hear back.
I didn’t write anything else for sixteen years.
The thing was, I really enjoyed writing and couldn’t help but form stories in my mind. Finally, there were so many I had to let them out.
Keep at it. Never give up.
Secondly, do what you’re willing to suffer for. You’ve probably heard the adage, do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life. And it’s true! As a professor, I feel blessed to interact with my students every day. I love it, and it doesn’t feel like work.
But doing what you love doesn’t always challenge you or make you better.
Doing what you’re willing to suffer for makes you tenacious, strong, and forms grit.
The editing process is brutal. Going to your first conference and finding that you’ve made a ton of mistakes with that beautiful manuscript you’re so proud of is heartbreaking. Rejection after rejection after rejection is ruthless.
Writing isn’t for the weak. So, if you get a rejection, move on to the next agent. Bad review? Ignore it.
But find your strength. Keep at it. Never give up.
Third, write what you want.
When I started writing again, I thought I’d try the Romance Genre. I joined Romance Writers of America, found a lovely local group, and started attending meetings.
The thing was, I couldn’t help but throw a dead body into the plot. You may be thinking, why not do Romantic Suspense? And the answer is that I tried. But the story wound up a Frankenstein’s Monster mash-mash of dribble.
I love mysteries, and it’s almost exclusively what I read. Cozies, thrillers, suspense, international spies, I love them all!
The next novel I wrote focused entirely on the mystery, with a cute constable for romantic spice. A bit of seasoning is all the mystery needed.
If you’re writing something that doesn’t work, write what you want. Keep at it. Never give up.
What is one thing you always do to help make your new book launches successful?
My publisher sets my release dates in our contract. Plan for a new Cotswold Crimes Mystery every December for the next five years!
To make my book launches successful, I plan several events starting a year in advance.
Guest Blogs - Plenty of blogs and podcasts book their guests two or three years in advance. I send requests to those blogs I feel best match my audiences and ask to build buzz. The downside of this method is that I’m not the best blogger on earth, so come November, I’m on the hook for several posts, and I dither about what to say. Most people think if you can write a book, you can write a blog post. I disagree and am infinitely impressed by those who post blogs weekly.
Social Media - Again, I’m not great at sharing fascinating snippets every day, so I build anticipation by posting actual locations from my novels every day. The Cotswolds are an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England, and I have a wealth of photos of the area. Every now and then, I share pictures of my dog, a border collie/mini-Aussie mix, as well, because he’s so darned cute.
Library Appearances - As a professor of writing, film, and theater, I have quite a few subjects on which I can lecture, and my local library is always glad to have me. In addition to carrying my books, they allow me to sell and sign copies after events.
Bookstores - My hometown has two wonderful local bookshops that support me with book signing opportunities.
Newsletter - I have a Quarterly Newsletter that has exclusive tidbits to build excitement about new releases, including first-to-see new covers, back cover copy, and the first page of the current novel for subscribers.
All in all, I need to do more, but it is a learning process. I’ll keep at it, and never give up.
Follow Sharon's writing adventures on social media and on her website --- find all those links HERE.
DEATH TAKES A BATH: A Cotswold Crimes Mystery (Book 1) . . .
When Maddie McGuire lands an archeology internship at the Roman Baths in England, she assumes everything will go her way. But when this college sophomore discovers a severed human ear on her doorstep, she must solve its meaning before she becomes the next victim, or worse, gets deported. Her tentative friendship with young constable Edward Bailey and the beauty of the Bath Abbey are no comfort as her aristocratic coworker Simon Pacock sabotages her every move. And the danger only increases when she discovers a dead body, both ears intact.
DEATH TAKES A FALL: A Cotswold Crimes Mystery (Book 2) is available for pre-order now and will be released December 5, 2023.
Valerie's review: This fabulous second installment in the Cotswold Crimes series firmly establishes these books as must-read mysteries. American student Maddie McGuire is a quirky amateur sleuth who you can’t help but love as she stumbles (literally) into a horrible criminal ring and puts herself (unwittingly) in mortal danger. The author skillfully builds the sinister plot against the backdrop of the seemingly idyllic setting of Bath, England accompanied by a brilliant cast of characters. Villains are hidden in plain sight, sending the reader on a marvelous twisting, turning jaunt as the culprits and their motives are unveiled. A charming, witty, and terrifyingly delightful mystery!