My Answer to the Question of the Month

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The editor of Clues, the publication of the Midwest Chapter of the Mystery Writers of America, reached out to me with the following question for its members: “What are your top tips for finding readers once your books are out in the world?”

Given that I haven’t been able to quit my day job, I may not have been the best choice to offer advice to struggling authors. Nevertheless, I gave it a shot. Here’s a link the December issue of Clues, where my answer appears. And if you’d prefer to read it here, read on!

As Dr. Samuel Johnson claimed, “No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money.”

Well, yes and no. We’d like to make money from our writings, but money is rarely the principal motivation, especially since our hourly earnings tend to be lower than the federal minimum wage. I’m a lawyer by day and a writer at night. I’ve published a dozen novels and several short stories but never made enough to quit my day job. That’s okay. Fortune and fame would be nice, but meanwhile I’m having a good time writing.

So here’s what I suggest to help you not quit your day job: create a presence on social media. You need to find a way to get your name and your book out there now that the good old days of book reviews and author profiles in big and small newspapers around the country are gone. The best way to do create that presence is through your own blog. Make yourself to post something interesting at least once or twice a month. It can be about your writings—or anything else you find interesting. Anything. My topics have included lessons I’ve learned from my dog and my Baby Boomer delusions of hipness. Of course, “interesting” definitely includes anything about your latest book—from its cover to its release date to your research to how you chose your dedication.

The blog is Step 1. Step 2: create an author’s page on Amazon.com and Goodreads.com, and include a link there to your blog so that every post gets re-posted on those sites. And every once in a while, link to one of those posts on Facebook or Twitter or even LinkedIn. The result? The bigger your social media presence, the more likely people will find you and find your writings.

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