Pen Friends ~ As promised here comes another fantastic interview with Australian YA author and Writer’s Edit Guru, Helen Scheuerer! DO NOT MISS her tips for marketing, promotion, social media, editing and more–they’re useful to anyone in the industry that is traditionally or self-published. Check it out!
SP: Welcome Helen! First, can you please tell us a bit of who are you and how long have you have been writing?
HS: Sure! I’m a novelist, editor and publisher who lives by the beach in Sydney. I own and run the popular writers’ platform, Writer’s Edit and I’m the author of bestselling YA fantasy, Heart of Mist. I’ve been writing since I was about seven years old 🙂
SP: Reign of Mist, your upcoming release, is the second book in The Oremere Chronicles. Can you tell us a bit more about book one, Heart of Mist, and now its upcoming sequel?
SH: Of course 🙂 Set in a realm where magic is forbidden, Heart of Mist follows 19-year-old Bleak as she tries to cure herself of her power. She is still grieving the death of her guardian when she is snatched from her home and summoned to the capital. To add to the action and intrigue, the leader of an infamous society of warriors, the Valia Kindred, lays claim to her as well, and Bleak finds herself in the middle of a much bigger battle than she anticipated.
The second book, Reign of Mist (out September 2018) picks up where Heart of Mist left off, so I don’t want to say too much! But essentially, after the secrets revealed in Book I, readers are in for even more drama in Book II. There are hard truths to face, and debts to be paid…
SP: Do you have a favorite character in The Oremere Chronicles? Why? Who was the hardest to write? Why?
HS: Haha, I love this question. I have lots of favourites, but I do have a big soft spot for Fiore, who is actually a secondary character – the best friend of Dimitri Swinton, Commander of the King’s Army.
Anyway, Fi’s a bit of a babe, let’s just say that!
As for the hardest to write… I have a younger character, Dash, who’s ten years old. I definitely found it challenging to write him at times. Obviously, I’m closer in age to the other characters so it was easier to work out their motivations and headspaces. But for Dash, it took a lot more exploration!
SP: You have a Bachelor in Creative Writing, a Masters in Publishing, and are the founder of the very popular, Writer’s Edit and Talem Press. Have you always been so focused on Writing? Did you ever have another career wish?
Writing has always been my dream. I remember having my first story “published” in the school newspaper when I was about ten, and I’ve been writing ever since. In high school I was told to pick another career path, that being a novelist wouldn’t pay the bills and such, but… I just couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
As you mentioned, I formed the online writers’ resource and learning platform Writer’s Edit as well. It’s become a wonderful community of writers 🙂
SP: As a successful Indie author, Writer’s Edit Guru, and more, we are dying to ask you some questions on marketing, social media and promotion that we get all the time around here. First, what are your greatest marketing tips and strategies for getting you and your book known?
The first thing I would say is to know your audience. So many authors don’t do their research when it comes to learning about their target market. They expect to publish a book and for it to sell, but once their friends and family have bought it, the title stalls.
So with that said, here are a few of my tips…
- Target specific reviewers who read your genre
- Start your promotional campaign well before your book’s release date! (I usually start 6 months in advance).
- Diversify your content – you need more than just ‘buy my book’ posts. Show people behind-the-scenes, bonus content, and be honest about your processes.
SP: Second, how can writers best use social media to engage the public and/or grow numbers?
HS: On Writer’s Edit, I always try to remind people the purpose of social media – it’s to be social, to be part of a community. That’s the first key. You shouldn’t be on Twitter just to grow followers, you should be on Twitter (or whatever your chosen platform) to connect with like-minded individuals.
Secondly, I’d say you need to be careful of how ‘self promotional’ you are. People can see through that pretty quickly, and if all you do is post about your book without giving anything back to the community, it’s the fast-track to a high unfollow rate.
Thirdly: choose one or two different platforms and do them well. One of the mistakes I see people make is that they try to do ALL the different channels at once and spread themselves too thin. You’re far better off perfecting one or two, and genuinely engaging with readers across these.
SP: Third, what other elements have you found useful for promotion?
HS: Creating a ‘street team’ is definitely something that’s an incredible help for book promotion.
A street team is a group of readers/bloggers who loved your book who help you promote it.
Our Writer’s Edit Editor, Claire Bradshaw, recently wrote a fabulously in-depth post on how to put together an indie author street team. It’s a great read for any authors (indie or traditional) who are looking for solid ways to promote their books.
SP: Fourth, what are some helpful tactics that fans and family/friends can do to help you?
HS: I’m glad you asked, because I wrote a really in-depth article about this over on Writer’s Edit, ‘13 Ways to Help an Indie Author With Their Book Release’.
When I released Heart of Mist and people asked me that exact question, I shared that post and it was incredibly helpful.
Some of my favourite takeaways from it are:
- Leave reviews (these are so so important for authors)
- Share a book photo on social media
- Give the book as a gift to relevant friends
SP: How do you balance all of your writing time/social media time/Talem Press? What is your biggest distraction?
HS: Ahhhhh the balancing act… It’s a massive struggle in all honesty. I write lots of to-do lists and use a timer to restrict how long I spend on certain tasks. I also wake up early every morning so that I can fit writing time in every day, because I find that to be important to feeling like I’ve made progress on the book I’m working on at the time.
My biggest distraction at the moment would be that I’ve just moved to an apartment by the beach and I find myself wanting to constantly be out walking along the water rather than cooped up in my office!
SP: Which book stole your heart when you were a kid?
All the Harry Potter books, there’s no contest there!
SP: Can you leave us with your favorite quote from Reign of Mist?
HS: Ohhhhh that’s hard! I do quite like the following line…
‘I know that trust needs to be earned, from princes and commanders alike.’
You can add Reign of Mist on Goodreads here.
SP: Lastly, where can we learn more about YOU and your books?
HS: There are lots of places you can learn more!
You can visit my website: http://helenscheuerer.com/
I also have FREE Heart of Mist prequel stories available here. These are a great way to get to know the realm and some of the characters in my books 🙂
You also can find me on social media via the following links…
Thanks so much for having me! It’s been a blast 🙂
SP: Thank you, Helen! We wish you the best of luck with your upcoming release!
Signing off, Nova