It’s a tour stop!
I’m happy to introduce to you folks for this first time on this blog, author Michelle Onuorah! She’s one of the most remarkable authors whose work I’ve come across, one of the reasons being that she makes no apology/excuses for her style of writing. When you read her book, whether you’re a Christian or non-Christian, it’s impossible not to walk away in a jaw-dropping manner. I believe Laura Pol of Crafty BookSheeps will agree with me! My head’s still reeling from reading her new book Jane.
I’m honored to be part of the blog tour team, and today Michelle is guest posting here. If you’re a writer just starting out, her words of wisdom are exactly what you need. Those who’ve been in the business will agree with Michelle’s words. So folks, I present to you … Michelle Onuorah!
I wrote this on Facebook a few days ago and feel it very appropriate to open this post with the same words:
“I just realized that 10 years and 5 days ago, I released my very first book, Double Identity. Looking back on it now, it was a crappy little novelette that probably shouldn’t have seen the light of day but I wrote it and published it and released it and became a published author at the age of fourteen because of two little words I thought to myself: “Why not?”
Never mind that I was thirteen when I wrote it and fourteen when it came out. I decided that I wanted to do it; that age (and other obstacles later on) wouldn’t get in the way.
Little did I know that 10 years and 5 days later, I would be rejoicing and praising God that I now do this for a living and have four bestselling novels (not just little stories) under my belt. It was by God opening my eyes to my calling, blessing me with stories to tell, and sustaining me in the times when the thorns and thistles of work seemed too much to overcome. He also sustained me in the feedback season – when positive reviews are paired with negative ones – and He reminded me that the approval of man means nothing in comparison to His perspective.
10 years ago, I was a 14-year-old kid with an idea buzzing in her mind. 10 years later, I’m beginning to see them come to life. Praise God.”
The words above were surreal for me to write. Not just because I can’t believe it’s been ten years since I first started publishing my work (I’m really starting to feel old now that I can remember that far back); but also because of the numerous lessons I’ve learned since I started as a wide-eyed teenager. Much of my success as a writer can be attributed to the changes that have happened in the publishing industry in just a few short years. I self-published Double Identity with BookSurge Press and that was when I first became aware of the stigma associated with “self-published authors” (imagine me saying this in the snootiest voice possible).
It still blows my mind to see the amount of prejudice against authors who have taken the initiative to write and release their own work without a middle man. And this isn’t a new phenomenon. Oscar Wilde, Benjamin Franklin, T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, Leo Tolstoy were all authors who self-published at one point.
Despite the stigma and misunderstanding of the industry, I am grateful for the opportunities afforded to me by the distribution of KDP (Kindle), Nook, and Kobo. By learning what these platforms could and could not offer, I was able to learn the market and pitch my books accordingly. This post is entitled “How I Became a Bestselling Author” at the request of Miranda, but it’s really my insight into what I’ve learned is important as an independent author. There is no guarantee for a bestselling novel. It all involves a mixture of great storytelling, excellent packaging, and tenacious (but not obnoxious) marketing. As a Christian, I also add a healthy dose of prayer.
Think of writing and releasing a book like a house. At the foundation, you need an excellent story. Most books that do well do so because of word of mouth. When I wrote and released Remember Me, the number one feedback I heard from fans was that a friend of theirs had told them about the book. These same readers are currently reading Jane – many of them emailed me prior to the release asking about the story. You cannot pay enough people to spread the word. Your story has to be electrifying enough to garner that natural response.
Next, is the packaging. The best-told story will not be read if it comes in a poorly-edited, poorly-formatted, poorly-covered book. Very rarely have I seen stories transcend this issue. And most times, the story isn’t being well-told if it is not well presented. Imagine the man from the “Dry Eye, Clear Eyes” commercial reading Shakespeare onstage with the same delivery – even the most brilliant literature can become painful if it isn’t edited, formatted, and presented well. With that in mind, I try to approach all of my books with a spirit of excellence – not perfection, but excellence. I plan before I write, I write with discipline, I get beta readers to give me feedback on the story, I have several eyes edit it (after I’ve edited it myself), and then I have it professionally formatted on the inside and designed on the outside. With Jane, personally found the stock photo and conversed with my cover designer extensively about my vision for the book and how I wanted the photo worked with to meet that vision. It was a lot of work but Jane is by far my favorite cover of all the books I’ve released thus far. I invest in my books – not an exorbitant amount – but enough that it meets my standards and looks professional – because it is professional. Readers do not want to spend money on junk. Make a quality product so that you feel no guilt or doubt about selling the quality product. This is essentially building the house.
Getting it sold, literally and figuratively, involves doing your research for marketing. Know who your audience is, categorize the book properly, give some free copies for people to review and ask them to spread the word if they like it. One of the reasons I’m currently offering five autographed copies of Jane via a Goodreads Giveaway is because it puts the book on the radar of readers. Many of them don’t want to wait until the entry period is over. They’ll skip entering and just get the book because they want to read it now. I’ve been blessed that this seems to work well for me. I once spoke with an author (now a New York Times bestselling author) who told me that when she first started marketing, she didn’t invest a dime in advertisements or marketing coups. She contacted bloggers and built relationships with them, personally asking them to read and review her work. They helped drum up the word of mouth and now she has a significant following. I’m steadily building mine with every book I write. Honestly, it will come down to doing your own research based on your genre, making an educated decision, trying something new, and making note of what worked and what didn’t. I’m still doing that today – even with four bestsellers under my belt.
Ultimately the question shouldn’t be “How to Become a Bestselling Author.” It should be how to write well, release well, and expose it to readers. Because what’s the point of writing a book if no one ever reads it?
I hope this helps.
What better way to celebrate the Valentines than joining in to win a romance book! In honor of the tour, Michelle has offered to giveaway three e-copies of her new book Jane. You can learn more about the book below and join the giveaway via a Rafflecopter giveaway form. Simply follow the link! This giveaway is International.
About the Book
Damaged and abused.
Jane Daugherty has survived what can only be described as the childhood from hell. After years of mental, physical, and sexual abuse, she has become a fiercely independent young woman – closed off from human connection. Unable to believe in people or their capability to be kind, she has vowed to build a new life for herself so that she never has to rely on, or trust, others again. At 24-years-old, she is fulfilling this vow, successfully working as the youngest tenure-track professor at the University of New York.
Brilliant and remarkably accomplished, Jane’s life takes an unexpected turn when she is reunited with the childhood friend she protected in foster care. Alexa Masterson introduces Jane to the family that adopted her, a family that includes her older brother, Aiden Masterson. Instantly drawn to each other, Aiden and Jane embark on a relationship that will either destroy them both or shape them into the man and woman they were always meant to be. Can what started as lust transform into love? And what will bring about the transformation that they ultimately need?
Find this post on facebook. Happy Valentines Day!
About Michelle Onuorah
Michelle N. Onuorah is the bestselling author of Remember Me, Type N, and Taking Names. She wrote and published her debut book, Double Identity, at the tender age of thirteen and has been writing ever since. A graduate of Biola University, Michelle continues to write and publish under her company, MNO Media, LLC . You can learn more about Michelle at www.mnomedia.com and like her page at www.facebook.com/authormichelleonuorah.