Article by Susan Golden
Donna Galanti writes thrillers for kids and grownups. She is the author of the bestselling paranormal suspense Element Trilogy and the children’s fantasy adventure Joshua and The Lightning Road series. Donna is a contributing editor for International Thriller Writers the Big Thrill magazine, a writing contest judge at nycmidnight.com, and regularly presents as a guest author at schools and teaches at writing conferences. She lived in England as a child and was stationed in Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer.
GLVWG member, Susan Golden, asked Donna a few questions.
If I were to meet you at a conference, what is something you would tell me about yourself that would be intriguing.
In high school in the 1980s I was obsessed with Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and dressed up as Aragorn (what I envisioned he would look like at the time). Of course, no one knew who I was in my cloak and boots. I am a fantasy reader and writer at heart.
What have you learned from the mistakes made in marketing a product?
Not realizing that I am marketing myself first, in many instances. People often want to connect to you as a person first, so they can then be drawn in to your product. Also, it’s key to build a subscriber list and a cheerleading team before you market a product so that it already has momentum to sell when it’s available.
What is the difference between marketing and selling?
With marketing, it’s important to remember that this is about being focused on what the consumer needs. Find their need and fill it. With selling, this is really all about focusing on sales, and how to increase numbers and product.
Do you have a favorite or suggested reading regarding marketing?
The Social Media Examiner is a good blog to follow to keep up with social media marketing trends. I also follow Neil Patel who has great podcasts with marketing tips through his Marketing School program.
Based on your experience as a contest judge, what are the biggest mistakes made in submissions and what advice would you give authors when selecting and submitting works in contests.
I see many of the same mistakes made over and over in submissions. I see overuse of exclamation marks, situations that are not believable, too much dialogue and not enough action/reaction/setting, too many characters and names, all telling and no showing, and head hopping. With fantasy, I see a lot of made-up lingo, places, names that bog down the story and pull me out of it. I would suggest when submitting short works, to make it simple. Have 2-3 characters we can connect with and care about. Add in sensory details to enrich the story and add in action/reaction between characters to show us about them and their motivations.
What is the greatest lesson you have learned from your experience in moving from fledgling author to success?
I wish I’d learned about how to write a book before writing my first book. I took writing workshops after I finished that first book and it required going back and fixing a ton of things! However, I don’t regret the learning that took place afterwards because it taught me how to write a better book from the beginning. Keep learning your craft and keep filling your writer’s toolbox. And remember that this writing business is not GOING to be easy – it’s going to be worth it! Visit my Writers Corner for inspiration, advice, and resources on writing.
What one thing would you like to relate to the audience?
As authors we get out of our comfort zone when we write, but we must also publicly get out of our comfort zone and into a new community comfort zone – online and in person. Through doing this, I’ve networked with all kinds of professionals in the publishing industry that have helped me get an agent, get a publisher, get blurbs, get exposure and more.
How to start?
- Join a writer organization, general one or genre-based. Search online by your region. “writer’s organizations” + “region”.
- Attend writer meetups. Search http://www.meetup.com and create one if none available.
- Follow and connect with authors you admire.
- Check out the Writer’s Digest 101 Best Websites for Writers and pick a few to follow and engage with.
- Connect with other debut authors. Search online for “Debut Author” + “Year” your book releases. You can band together to do shared promotion.
- Connect with readers before your book comes out. Book bloggers are your friend. Follow them online, comment on their blogs. Ask them to review your book, do a cover reveal, or a giveaway.
- Position yourself as an expert and share what you know. Giving a talk in-person or being on someone else’s blog instantly positions you as an expert.
- Build a subscriber list. A subscriber list is your direct line to your readers, whether a blog or newsletter list. It’s the only community list you own. What if Twitter or Facebook went away? How would you reach your community? Through email.
- Start with who you know. Tip: run a Rafflecopter contest and have entrants follow your newsletter or blog for extra entries.
Donna will be available at the GLVWG Write Stuff Conference™ on Saturday, March 23, 2019 to provide marketing advice for conferees on a first come, first serve basis. To sign up for a consultation session, follow the instructions on the registration form. Your actual times for the consult will be assigned after registration is closed, and will be attached to conference materials upon signing in.
Article by Susan Golden