Guest Post: Caroline Mitchell on The Magic Formula of Success

Originally from Ireland, Caroline lives with her husband, four children and two dogs in a pretty village on the coast of Essex. Five years ago Caroline and her family encountered real life paranormal activity in their home. Paranormal Intruder is her best selling true story.

Caroline’s new novel, Don’t Turn Around has recently been published by Bookouture in a three book deal as part of her DC Jennifer Knight series. These edge of your seat crime thrillers are infused by Caroline’s experience in both the police and the paranormal.

An aspiring author once asked me what was the one thing that I could attribute my writing success to. I said it was luck. The harder I worked, the luckier I got. A well worn line, but very true. So far, all of my books have been Amazon best sellers in several categories, have gathered a reasonable amount of positive reviews and have earned their way into the Amazon top 100. I’ve got a long way to go before I join the ranks of top crime writers, but I’m happy that everything is going in the right direction.

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a magic formula, but if I was trying to make one, I’d throw some perseverance, consistency, timing, resilience, hard work and a good dollop of optimism into the mix. I’m pleased I self published my first book, because it taught me a lot about the industry and the value of marketing. If you don’t market when you self publish, then your books won’t sell. It’s as simple as that. Thanks to the Internet, there’s never been a better time to reach out to avid readers. Social media has expanded our scope like never before. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that a new author is the wearer of many hats. Gone are the days when you could just get on with writing and leave the promotion to someone else. Even if you’re fortunate enough to be signed with big named publishers, you’ve still got to take some responsibility when it comes to getting your name out there. Note I said name, and not book. If you’re looking at this as a long-term career then you’ve got to treat yourself as a brand. That’s why it’s very important to find your writing voice early on and decide what sort of genre you fall into. Supporter of indie authors, the fantastic Joanna Penn once spoke of a conversation she had with an aspiring author who told her they didn’t want to bother with marketing, they just wanted to write. She said that was fine, as long as they didn’t want to sell any books. I couldn’t agree more.

You need to decide if you want to self-publish or try for a traditional deal. I compare the latter akin to winning the X-Factor. People sometimes ask me why I signed with digital publisher Bookouture instead of self-publishing, as I was so familiar with the process. For me, it’s a brilliant compromise. I don’t have the financial outlay that comes with self-publishing, such as content editing, proofreading, formatting and cover design (yes you should be hiring people to do all of these things if you self -publish). I work with a fantastic team of professionals and my books are published quickly. Starting off as a self-published author can be a lonely journey at times. To me, being a hybrid author is the way forward and really does offer the best of both worlds. The publishing industry is in constant flux, and as a new author, you will do well to keep your ear to the ground.

Never stop learning. We are very fortunate to live in an age when information is at our fingertips. Yes, I’m well aware of the sheer volume of books being self-published on a daily basis, but you can’t use that as an excuse to stop you reaching your goals. But you have to be hungry for success. It takes time, there are no shortcuts, and don’t expect anyone else to explain it all to you either. Get online, and get learning. There are countless free blogs on self-publishing and writing, and some cracking books and podcasts out there. Sacrifice your free time and study the craft.

Finally, make your dream real. When you’ve written something of value, get rid of the ‘aspiring’ title and envisage yourself as a writer. Go to writer’s conferences and rub shoulders with your favourite authors. They are the loveliest and most sociable bunch of people you could meet (especially if you’re buying the drinks – mine’s a white wine). Above all, good luck – you do remember what I said about luck don’t you?

You can find Caroline here …

Find my book on Amazon-
Member of the Crime Writers’ Association.

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