Writing, Publishing & Marketing Advice From Beth Revis


Today I am very happy to welcome to the blog bestselling author Beth Revis. Beth is the author of the NY Times Bestselling Across the Universe series, published by Razorbill/Penguin in the US and available in 17 countries. A former teacher, Beth lives in rural North Carolina with her husband and dog.

Beth has published a three-part series to help aspiring authors find their way through the maze of writing an publishing. Learn to avoid the common pitfalls and find your own path with Beth's PAPER HEARTS series.

Your PAPER HEARTS series is a three-pronged look at writing, publishing and marketing. How important do you think it is for a writer to be good at all three?

For a writer, the only thing you need is to know how to tell a good story. For a career author who wants to make a living at writing, I think it's necessary to know the business side of it, too--which includes not just writing a query, but deciding the best publishing path for your specific career, and then exploring the tools to help you position yourself for continued success. 

My books are definitely not going to be a cure-all, but I want to get people to ask themselves the questions necessary to sustain a career. What is more important to you, specifically: one book published or a career in writing? Are you more willing to sacrifice time or money when it comes to marketing? Are you more comfortable being social or innovative? How can you best help your career? Publishing, like writing, is not a one-size-fits all.

The idea came about after your collected Wattpad project had reached critical mass. Can you tell us more about your motivation to help aspiring writers?

I think part of my motivation just comes from the way my brain ticks. I used to be a teacher, and I loved that job. Not the grading papers or dealing with parents, not that, but the actual teaching part. I loved helping students, I loved discussing new ideas and just...just teaching. I really loved that job. This book comes about in part because of that. 

When someone asks a question, I want to be able to help them find an answer. So I started hanging around writing boards, like Reddit, Miss Snark's First Victim, and Facebook forums. I found that I was answering a lot of the same questions over and over, so I started to compile it all in Wattpad. A few months ago, after I hit my first 100,000 reads, I realized that I was looking at not one book, but three, and I might be able to help more people if I published them.

Volume three focuses on marketing... something that many writers are uncomfortable with, claiming that they're artists, not salespeople. Are there effective marketing strategies for even the shyest of scribes?

Oh, absolutely! That's the beauty of the internet! :)

But beyond that, there are ways where you can let your books do the talking. I am not a fan of the "hard sell"--where you stand up and actively approach people and engage with strangers. It works for some people, but not for me. So I try mostly to focus on ways you can engage no matter what your level. 

But a big key to marketing is just being plugged into the community. If you're most comfortable with Twitter, use Twitter. Not as an advertiser, as a user. See what makes you click links, which contests you are tempted to sign up for, which books you notice, and you'll be well on your way to finding the method of marketing that works best for you.

Only the first in the three volume series focuses on the actual writing process. How do you think an author's position in the publishing industry has changed over time?

When it comes to publishing, good writing will out. The first book is on writing processes, and it's the longest of the three books, but at the end of the day, the entire book is summed up with: "make art the best way you can." 

Publishing is more cut-and-dry. There are specific methods of publishing that work and some that don't. And sure, there are exceptions to the rule, but learning how to write a good pitch paragraph is important whether you are traditionally published (and need to add it to a query or a website) or you're self publishing and have to put it on the back of your book. Authors have a ton more options now to publish, and it is possible to stand out as a self publisher, and the best thing you can do for yourself is just learn and then be as professional as possible.

The title, PAPER HEARTS, is intriguing. What does it mean to you, personally?

I've latched on to that phrase for years. A paper heart is fragile, easily torn. But writers build their lives around paper, and even if one piece is easy to tear into shreds, a stack of papers--like the kind that make a book--is strong.