Guest post: "One-Thousand Voices in My Head to Help Promotion," by J.J. Sherwood, Author of 'Kings or Pawns'

Me:     Writing is, and always has been, my first love.
Ishmael: Good gods, woman. You’re going to have to start stronger than that or you’ll put your audience to sleep!
Me: …I started writing when I was a kid—
Ishmael: That would explain my brother’s ridiculously child-like behavior.
Evrae: Hey! I resent that!
Ishmael: …Stop making crude signs at the computer. This is a written interview. They can’t see them.
Me: (*AHEM*) There’s a giant filing cabinet in the closet right now filled with half-completed tales. Tales that I’ll never show. But I do have novels I’ve worked very hard on—novels that have become my passion. The Steps of Power series is that. And so I’ve worked very hard to promote the series to share that excitement and passion with fellow adults.
Zauviir: (snorts*) Or kids who wander by our convention booths with cash in hand.
Me: Hey. I don’t do that.
Zauviir: I wasn’t talking about you. Someone—me—has to help pay the bills around here.
Me: …This is obviously a talk we’re having later. …Anyways, promotion can be a real challenge for new authors. Even with all the hours spent researching, you often still feel lost. Just the other day, a new author messaged me on Twitter and asked, “How do you have so many followers??” So I’m going to try to share a few tidbits of information—
Darcarus: (snickers*) Titbits.
Ishmael: Good. Now that Darcarus is here, the immature fest can really get going.
Me: …that might help authors—at any walk of life—ramp up their potential audience. So let’s do this!

Social Media

Me: By now you’re probably catching on that half of the promotion work is about “first impressions.” Social Media is where we get to the next step. Previously I mentioned that I had a woman ask me the other day how I had so many followers on Twitter (and I get about 1000 a month). My series art and website are by no means small contributors to promotion, but they are not the only things that promote my work. In my case, Twitter is my platform of choice. So I’ll talk about how to really enhance your presence online. In short:
Darcarus: Be hot.
Me: …That is not at all what I was going to say. First, your avatar should be a picture of you.
You: “Whoa. I’ve seen lots of big name authors who—”
Sairel: You’re not a big name author and that’s why you’re still reading this post.
Me: …Way to be snarky, Sairel. Sorry about him. Anyways, readers in this day and age like to put a face to the work they are reading. It’s just the facts of life. And I know some of you are sitting there, squirming with anxiety that you look like the left-over scrapings at the bottom of a chili bowl, but trust me when I say to you: put a face to your work. It legitimizes everything about your novel.
Sairel: Otherwise just assume everyone online envisions you as a thirteen-year-old kid who pretends to know how to write. Even if you claim you are forty and married. In the eyes of the online community, you’re probably still thirteen.
Evrae: You can be thirteen at heart, though.
Ishmael: Or in Evrae’s case, ten.
Me: Second: your bio should infuse you into it. Your passions, your quirks, your faults. Details. Your followers want to get to know you.
Sairel: Don’t just throw in a random quote or “I like food, dogs, and long walks on the beach.” That is also incredibly boring.
Me: And lastly: Follow people with like-minded passions. Don’t just “follow all” to add numbers to your feed. Follow people because you care. Because you see that they are, say, a fellow roleplayer and you are like “Oh boy! I bet they’ll have some awesome stories to share!” First and foremost, you’re a friend on Twitter. Most of the people you follow—95%—will never look twice at your work. So when you follow, keep in mind that you’re forming friendships first—and enjoy them for that. Who knows, maybe they’ll share a passion in your work as well and you two can spend long hours giggling about it! I’ve had so many Twitter followers who I have had a fantastic time talking about League of Legends champion hotness ratings, the hilarities of cats, foreign music, and other non-novel related talks with people who have said to me down the road, “Hey, I’d like to read your novel.” And then it’s even more fantastic because they’re not just a random number, they’re a friend who I can share yet another passion with! And for me, at least, that’s my greatest joy in writing.
Darcarus: Also getting hot artwork of us.
Me: …That too…
Title: Kings or Pawns (Steps of Power, The Kings: Book I)
Genre: Fantasy
Author: J.J. Sherwood
Publisher: Silver Helm
Purchase at Amazon
About the Book:
Kings or Pawns is the first novel in the Steps of Power series. It takes place after two very significant events in the world—the continental division between the human and elven races after the betrayal and death of Aersadore’s hero, Eraydon, and the recent Royal Schism that has left the elven nation’s politics even more corrupted than was prior. The new elven king, Hairem, is determined to overcome the council’s corruption and restore the elven lands, but he has far more to contend with than just the politics within the capital: an assassin has begun killing those loyal to him, a rebelling warlord threatens the city from without, and an unknown beast devastates the king’s forces at every turn. There are multiple points of view—the youthful and naïve king Hairem; the mute and spunky servant girl, Alvena; the mysterious and arrogant foreigner, Sellemar; and the cynical, dry-humored General Jikun.
About the Author:
JJ. Sherwood was born in Tucson, Arizona on New Year’s Eve—and has always had a flair for the dramatics. JJ began writing in kindergarten and her first work was completed by the age of 5: a riveting tale of a duck attempting to climb into an apartment during the pouring rain.
Unfortunately this book is not in print, but it served as the first spark that spurred on a lifetime of creativity. JJ continued writing throughout her school years and escaped the horrors of short-story writing in college, ready and eager to write meaty, character-driven novels. With over 250 well-rounded characters developed from her nearly 20 years of roleplaying, JJ dove straight into the rich history of Aersadore, ready to let her puppeteers pull her creative strings.
JJ lives in Cincinnati, Ohio with her spouse, parrot, bearded dragon, and four cats who look far too similar.
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