Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Staying Relevant

I was bummed when I realized I wouldn't have a book coming out in 2009. I think 2010 is going to be a great year, because I already know I have two books coming out, and I'm about to pitch a third book to my editor which almost certainly would come out in 2010 as well. Plus I have two more in the wings, one that's nearly finished, so there's even a possibility of a four-book year for me.

But that doesn't really help me in 2009, does it?

So I've been giving a lot of thought to the idea of staying relevant even when you don't have a book on the shelves. How do you do it? How do you keep people thinking about you when you're not front and center?

I'm not a social person, as anyone on my list of Facebook friends can tell you. I'm not big about just sharing anything on my mind. Part of the problem is that the two things I feel most passionately about, religion and politics, are the two things I steer clear of in my public life, for the most part. Another part of the problem is that I'm a classic INTJ, which means I'm not big on small talk, among other things. I prefer to spend my time actually working on my books rather than rubbing elbows with people to make connections.

Networking is a chore. In fact, I actually created a networking spreadsheet the other day to force me to make the effort to connect through websites, forums, blogs, etc. If I'm honest, one of the main reasons I'm blogging right now is that there's a blank mark on my spreadsheet that desperately needs an "x" on it.

So, back to the question of relevance. What can a writer do to stay relevant when she doesn't have a book on the shelves? I'm trying to work on my networking skills, create a routine of checking out the more visible blogs and commenting, trying to get more involved in forums where readers might go, trying to step up my posting on MySpace and Facebook, etc. But I'm always open to suggestions if you have any.

Also, I'm seriously considering posting an unpublished novel of mine to my website in serialized form. It's a book I think is a good story, but for various reasons, elements in it make it a bad fit for Harlequin Intrigue (though it's definitely an Intrigue-style story). And I don't have any desire to try to make it into something bigger to fit the single-title market. So right now it's just languishing on my hard drive, doing me no good whatsoever.

What do y'all think about that idea? It's 16 chapters long, so we'd be talking about a chapter a week for 16 weeks, which is a nice chunk of the year right there. I could set it up so that I start doling it out about 16 weeks before the publication of my January book, which would hopefully keep people interested in my writing enough to be ready for my new book then.

Is that a good idea? Have I lost my mind?

And do you have other ideas for ways I can stay in people's minds while I don't have a book on the shelves?


Megan Reilly said...

I was going to suggest that exact thing -- a free story on your website, or writing short stories in general.

It is hard, though. I have a spreadsheet of networking, too, but haven't kept it up.

Paula said...

I've been so good with the networking this week. I don't know if I'll be able to keep it up once I start writing toward my deadline starting next week, though.

MJFredrick said...

What about writing a short story for the Harlequin website? That would get you a lot of exposure, and then people would come to your website. It's hard to write short, I know.