Ava Pennington

Author, Ava Pennington

Hi, all – Ava Pennington here, with a note about shaking things up.
The publishing industry is moving faster than Doc Brown’s DeLorean, but not always in a good way. Stagnant sales, corporate restructurings, e-publishing, people reading less…the news can be discouraging. So what’s an author to do? One thing we should not do is approach our writing careers with an “I’ve always done it this way” attitude.

Anthony Robbins once said, “If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got.” But that’s not true anymore, especially in publishing. Doing the same thing no longer gives us the same results.

It’s time to shake things up, and here’s how to do it…

Don’t believe all the gloom and doom.
More books are being sold today than ever before. Formats may change, but a book is still a book and there will always be a need for a good story and for nonfiction that changes lives.

Do your homework.
Paging through a five-year-old copy of the Christian Writers’ Market Guide won’t cut it. Make sure your reference information is up-to-date. Even then, the data in the current edition should be verified through publishers’ and agents’ websites.

Sending a one-size-fits-all query to a dozen agents will yield a dozen rejections. Most agents are inundated with queries these days. One agent posted on her blog last January that she received more than 10,000 queries in 2010. It doesn’t matter how many books you’ve already published. Learn agents’ and publishers’ submission requirements and adhere to them without exception.

Leave Your Comfort Zone
Someone once said, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Pursue marketing activities that force you to leave your comfort zone. For example, if you’ve always participated in on-line blog interviews, consider creating a YouTube video. If you’ve never pursued public speaking, approach local community groups and offer to speak at their next meeting.

Establish a Virtual Hub
Several years ago it was enough to have a static website. Today, your website must be one component in a multifaceted online package that includes a blog and social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. What’s missing from your online presence?

Invest in Your Career
Even multi-published authors need to leave their desks and connect with others in the industry. Nothing replaces face-time with agents, editors, and other writers.  Consider attending at least one writers’ conference a year. You may not see the pay-back in the first year, but networking produces long-term benefits that can be career-altering. If money is tight (and that applies to most of us!), then start saving now for 2012. Remember, it’s not a cost, it’s an investment.

Now it’s your turn. In what areas have you rid yourself of an “I’ve always done it this way” attitude?

4 thoughts on “We’ve Always Done It This Way…or Not

Catherine Jaime

July 1, 2011 - 08 : 25 : 42

Consider Self-Publishing!
In this constantly changing world of publishing, I am surprised that more authors do not look seriously at self-publishing options. I attended my first Writers’ Conference last month, and that was my biggest disappointment: The only references to self-publishing that weekend were negative.
But self-publishing can be a GREAT option these days! It is no longer expensive (or at least it doesn’t have to be). I self-publish my paperbacks for almost nothing, and my e-books for no monetary cost. It doesn’t have to be low-quality (I pay someone to edit every one of my novels.)
And it’s almost automatic. (A book can be available for sale as a paperback in about a week, and as an e-book almost instantly.)
And since clearly even “traditionally” published books need to be marketed by the authors, I’m not seeing the drawbacks.


Ava Pennington

July 1, 2011 - 12 : 27 : 17

I’m glad you’ve had success with self-publishing, Catherine. And you’re right, it is an alternative to traditional publishing. E-books are yet another option.
I would suggest a couple of cautions for anyone considering self-publishing, though.
First, hone your craft. Some writers are so eager to see their manuscript in print, they self-publish before their work is the best it can be.
Second, have your manuscript professionally edited. Many self-published books are poorly edited (if edited at all), and result in a disappointing product.
Finally, be sure you have a platform to facilitate sales. Of course, even authors with traditional publishing houses need a platform these days, but with self-publishing you run the risk of having a garage-full of books and no customers.
Congratulations on your success, Catherine. Keep writing!


Catherine Jaime

July 5, 2011 - 20 : 54 : 51

Ava, I completely agree with the need to have self-published books professionally edited. It took me longer to find a good proofreader for my first novel than it took me to write it! That was a difficult wait, but wait I did.
But self-publishing is a different world now — I do not have a garage full of books. With print-on-demand I am only required to order one proof copy of each book I write. If I approve the proof, I never have to order another copy of each book, unless I want more copies for gifts or to sell personally. And yes, depending on the book, I upload most of my books almost immediately as e-books, too.
So, the beauty of self-publishing this way is almost no financial commitment on my part. And meanwhile, I am joyfully pursuing my calling to write.


Ava Pennington

July 5, 2011 - 21 : 44 : 24

We’re blessed with the technological advances in publishing, aren’t we? Blessings on you as you continue to write!


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