‘When I Learned to Treat My Writing Career as a Business, That’s When I Became More Productive’
Shelia Goss is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than a dozen books. She writes Christian fiction, suspense, women’s fiction, and young adult fiction. She discusses marketing and her approach to productivity.
WL: You’ve had success in many ways as a writer — as a self-published author who landed book deals, as an author who has reached bestseller lists, as an author who has gained a loyal following, as a blogger with a longstanding blog. What has been the “secret” to your success?
Goss: There’s no secret. It’s a combination of things: faith, hard work, and determination. This business is not for the faint at heart. The key is to never give up, even when faced with obstacles or rejections.
WL: Was landing on bestseller lists part of what you were shooting for or was that a surprise to you? Please explain your answer.
Goss: It was a surprise. I still remember the night I found out my book was listed on the Essence Magazine bestseller’s list. I was so excited. It would also be a dream come true to see my books on the New York Times or USA Today’s bestseller’s lists.
WL: How have technology and social networks changed your marketing?
Goss: I wonder how we did it before the Internet and social networking. The Internet and social networking have allowed me to reach people I never would have been able to reach without them. It’s opened up a whole new world.
WL: How do you use social networks in your marketing?
Goss: I use Facebook and Twitter to market my books. Being on the social networks is a must if you want to reach customers or new customers. You must be engaging and most importantly be yourself. Post your book information but don’t do it on other’s pages unless they give you permission to do so.
WL: Is offline book promotion still necessary in light of social media/social networks? If so, how do you promote your books offline?
Goss: Yes. I still do social events and conferences. I don’t do as many events as I would like because it can be costly. Social networks have made it cheaper to reach out to people.
WL: How important are book clubs to you as an author?
Goss: Book clubs are very important. Book clubs are what helped get my name out there. Book club members are usually avid readers so after they read the group’s book of the month, they read other books. If a book club member likes your book, they will tell someone else about it. Word of mouth is still the best form of promotion.
WL: What marketing advice do you have for someone who wants to become an author who can sell books?
Goss: First, have a good product (nice cover, good content, reasonable book price). Secondly, try several different marketing techniques until you find your niche. What works for one author may not work for the next, but you have to be willing to try different methods until you find what works for you.
WL: Why did you decide to write in multiple genres?
Goss: I’m an avid reader, and I read in multiple genres. I like to write the kind of books I like to read. It also keeps my writing life interesting.
WL: Does writing in multiple genres make book promotion difficult in any way? If so, how?
Goss: No, it doesn’t. I just have to use different techniques. For example, with young adult books, I have to reach out to the parents and librarians to help get the word out about the books to my target audience: teenagers.
WL: How have you been such a productive writer?
Goss: I’ve had to learn to discipline myself. Sometimes it’s easy but other times it isn’t. I will want to do everything but write. When I learned to treat my writing career as a business, that’s when I became more productive.
WL: What productivity tips do you have for other writers?
Goss: First thing to do is to log off of the social networks. Social networks can be time zappers. Make an appointment with yourself to write and keep it. Don’t allow anything to interfere with your writing time. Teach people around you to respect your writing time. Don’t allow procrastination to keep you from writing.
WL: What is a writing-related goal you are working on or a dream you have for your writing career?
Goss: In addition to me writing novels, I’m currently writing screenplays and it is my goal to sell them and have them made into movies.
WL: What has been the toughest challenge you’ve had in your career? How have you dealt with that challenge?
Goss: The toughest challenge for me has been getting mass exposure for my books due to a limited budget. I’ve dealt with the challenges by praying about it and pressing forward and doing what I could on a tight budget. God has opened doors in certain avenues that have given me more exposure.
WL: What is one misconception others have about being a successful author?
Goss: Many assume if you’re a successful author that you are rich. The average author doesn’t have the income of J.K. Rowling, Stephen King, or Stephenie Meyer.
WL: What are you working on now?
Goss: I’m working on a new women’s fiction series dealing with family, love, and community. I don’t have a publication date for it right now because the details are still being ironed out, but I’m hoping the first book of the series will be out in the latter part of 2013 or first part of 2014. I also am adapting some of my books to screenplays.
WL: Where can people learn about and purchase your books?
Great article. One thing I love about Shelia is her willingness to give back to fellow writers. She is always the first to volunteer and she takes time to share her wisdom. I truly appreciate her for remembering those behind her. I wish you much success Shelia.
This is a very interesting article. Just a tip - you need to do something about your social media settings because it's really annoying having to read around the "Share" button throughout the entire article.
I just love Shelia! Not only is she a prolific author, but she is very supportive of other writers. When Simon and Schuster published my debut novel Dare I was thoroughly confused about marketing. Shelia is one of the women who came forward to support and promote me as a new author. She is the embodiment of each one, teach one.
Thanks, Marty! As for the share button, we will do a redesign soon and our share buttons may change. I'm not sure. But thanks for letting me know your thoughts. Drop in again soon.
Shelia has a very generous and beautiful spirit. She doesn't mind helping and connecting with others. But it goes beyond not "minding" helping others; she actually actively looks for ways to do so. I love featuring people like her at Writer's Living.