Publishing World Wisdom from Tracey Phillips
Welcome to the April 2022 Author Series where a published author Tracey Phillips answers the questions:
What do you wish you had known before you published your first book? And, what would you go back and tell your pre-published self?
These are great questions, Valerie. Thanks so much for bringing me on board. These days, the publishing market has more opportunities than ever. The chance for others to see your work and to have your books in bookstores next to the likes of Gillian Flynn, Robert Dugoni or Hank Phillippi Ryan are better than ever.
If you do the work.
When I first started writing, I—like many new authors—felt I’d written the next New York Times Bestseller. What I didn’t know was, this industry is subjective, and stories are in many ways, like art. So I spent time revising and learned how to tell a story. I practiced querying and learned how to pitch. I love to create, and writing gives me a beautiful blank canvas to paint my stories. But I’m not one who was born with a pencil in hand. Inspiration came at a later stage in life. At that point, I had to learn a new set of skills.
Initially, my goal was to get a traditional publishing contract. I was sure that the publisher would take care of me and do all the things that I didn’t know how to do. If I connected with a publisher, I told myself, I’d have it made. I thought they would handle all promotion and marketing. In truth, you become a partner with your publisher. When it works, you and your publisher are a team. They can distribute your work all over the globe, but it’s still up to you to form a connection with your readers and schedule in-person and virtual events. It’s up to you and your agent to make sure your publisher is working for you.
Before BEST KEPT SECRETS, I wish I’d spent more time on creating an online presence and learning about facets of marketing and advertising. I wish I’d learned the art of shameless self-promotion. The question I should have asked myself is, who’s going to buy that book when it comes out?
Being clever enough to gain followers on social media is another art form that authors must cultivate. It’s a talent that some have, and others acquire with practice. It’s important to choose at least one outlet because your followers will be first to see your posts when you shout about your next book. They are the ones most likely to buy it. Had I known this before my debut, I would have spent a great deal more time refining my online image.
What would I tell my pre-published self? Lots of things. This is no fantasy career, being an author is a job. When you get that publishing contract, you’ll still have to do most of the leg work. That publisher—whoever it is—won’t do that for you. Learn about podcasts and blog-tours. Get to know your local print papers and magazines. They’ll be great sources of advertising when that book is finally released. Learn about marketing your book. And don’t forget to spend time on your image and social presence.
After one traditionally published book and one Indie published book, I still ask myself this question: When will you feel like you’ve arrived? After three books? After four? Never? The truth is, in this changing industry, I’m not sure I’ll ever feel that I made it.
However, this is my tribe. Being an author has connected me with more like-minded people than ever before. This community is as giving as they are creative. And we’re all going through it together.
Being an author is a lot like yoga. It’s a practice. The publishing and marketing industries are constantly changing. The more you write, the more you see areas you need to improve. Whether you need a more direct marketing approach or need to perfect your chops as an author, there will always be a way to grow and change.
Tracey S. Phillips’ unagented debut, BEST KEPT SECRETS, was released in 2019, published by Crooked Lane Books. The manuscript won a Hugh Holton award in 2018.
Tracey majored in music production and engineering at Berklee College of Music. A serial artist, she still teaches piano lessons and loves to draw. In the summer she grows vegetables and cooks from scratch. At her first Bouchercon she realized her dream of being a panelist and discussed Unusual Ways to Kill (in fiction, of course) with other debut authors. She is also the founder of Blackbird Writers, a group of authors who fly under the mystery umbrella.
Later this summer, look for Karissa Knight’s THE CONTRACT; book 2 in the Mina’s Choice series. Writing romantic suspense, Karissa Knight is the pseudonym of Tracey S. Phillips. The first book in the Mina's Choice series is, THE CLIENT.
Keep up with Tracey's new releases here: