out here if you never have before. I've updated my post a bit and changed some things, as my opinion changes about this writing biz, but basically here it is:
One of the biggest pieces of marketing advice out there is build a platform, grow an audience, and write in the same genre. Sure, people with several books, such as picture books or self-help, will decide to write romance and get a pen name. But generally, good, little authors write a young adult fantasy, and then they write a sequel or at least another young adult fantasy. It’s very smart.
But I did not do this.
Hopefully, there’s at least one other author out there besides me who likes to struggle through marketing and building an audience. If you are nodding your head, then please find me on Facebook, and let’s start our own private Facebook group, where we can complain and whine together. We can call our group: "Authors who like to make the hardest business in the world even harder."
Seriously, what happened to me?
Before I had any idea what I was doing and before the explosion of the e-book and self-publishing world, way back in 2000, I took a correspondence course where lessons were actually snail-mailed to me, and I wrote Finding My Place: One Girl’s Strength in Vicksburg. This is the novel I always wanted to write for kids in upper elementary grades to read at school and home. It took three-plus years to write because I taught full time and had no idea what I was doing. Then it took three more years to revise it and figure out what to do with it. That was 2006, still the dark ages considering where self-publishing and e-books are today.
This book was freaking hard to write. Historical fiction is the most difficult thing I’ve ever tackled, and I thought the whole experience might kill me. (Especially when I signed my contract, did my revisions, and then my publishing company almost went out of business. . .) But alas finally, in 2012, I held my book in my little hands and had a party.
But what happened between 2006 and 2012? I wrote other books, of course, but I vowed to never ever write another historical fiction for kids. The whole experience, as I mentioned, almost killed me. So, I wrote a few picture books and a contemporary YA, and I started to pursue publication with a couple of these manuscripts. Lo and behold—I was offered two contracts—one on the contemporary YA and one on a cute, humorous picture book.
Do you see where this is going? I know what you are thinking: Margo, you have no platform or consistency.
I KNOW! But luckily, I have great writing friends who did things correctly, such as my publisher, Robin Tidwell. One day she said, “Just try to look at what all your books have in common. They all have girls as the main character.”
She was really trying to help me! But yes, I went with it. They do all have girls as the main characters, and in each one, the girls are smart and funny, kind and bull-headed. Then, one day, in the comfort of my living room, I came up with this tagline to try and pull all this together:
Be Unique. Be Strong. Be Yourself.
Not only does it encompass my books, but it also says a lot about me and my personality.
The lesson here for me? I have to work with what I have. I’m proud of my books. I love talking to kids and teens, and because I have such a wide range of audiences, I am more versatile when it comes to speaking—there’s probably something I have for any age of kid or grandkid you have. (hint, hint)
Now I have to figure out what to write next since I've been in a slump. I have a middle-grade mystery ready to go and another humorous picture book almost ready. I also want to do a blog where I am writing about life issues, trying to reflect on some things I learned this last year going through a divorce. So, we will see what the future brings.
I would also love to hear about how you created a platform--either the right way or the wrong way!
Check out more about Margo Dill on her website.
Photo of tools by Dylan Foley on Flickr.com.