A Baby Romance Novelist is Born

posted in: Writing Rants 0

Updated 10/29/2023 – I found Ryley’s Goodreads account and updated my notes below.

Today is my first day calling myself Ryley Kennedy – Romance Novelist. I’m not sure how I’m going to start out – my brain is feeling a bit conflicted. The marketing part of my brain says, “Get your online presence organized and ready to go!” but the creative part of my brain says, “How can you claim to be a Romance Novelist if you’re not actually writing?” In this day and age, newbie authors have to be super marketing savvy as well as productive. So I am going to try and build up both sides of my career at the same time. Today, I am getting started by taking stock of what I already have and what I need to do to get started in my romance writing career (both from the marketing side of things and the writing side of things). To help me keep track of ongoing tasks (because I sense there will be a lot of them), I have created a new board in Trello (which is my project management tool of choice at the moment, although I’m probably going to switch to Asana at some point – I’ll talk more about that in a future blog post).

One quick note – I realize I switch between the first person and the third person in this article quite a bit and it might be a little bit confusing. Basically, I am thinking of myself as both my alter-ego (Ryley Kennedy) and an author brand, which are two different things in my mind. Hopefully this all makes sense anyway.

Here is my list of what I have in my Romance Novelist Toolkit as of TODAY:

Marketing Assets (I’m starting with this since it’s easier for me – this is what I do every day, all day for other people; I’m kind of curious to try this out on myself!)

  • Domain with the pen name I plan to use – check! (I actually bought this domain back in 2018, right before I went to a writer’s conference)
  • Basic website where I can blog and start to build an online presence – check!
    • Issues with website – I was using this website as a sort of dumping ground to store recipes online for a couple of years and not much else (I’ve recently copied all of those recipes over to my personal website). Now I need to clean up this website and make sure I do so in a way that makes me AND Google happy. Here is my checklist for cleaning up the site:
      • Connect the website to Google Search Console – check! (I now just need to wait a day or two for the data to populate)
      • Figure out which recipe posts have been indexed by Google and set up the necessary redirects to my personal website (my goal is to get that done this week).
  • Business cards – check!
  • Facebook page – well, this become a big clustermuck of lost time. It turns out I had created a personal profile for Ryley Kennedy back in 2018 using a different email than my personal (i.e. “real me”) account. My thinking was that I wanted Ryley Kennedy to be as much of a real person as possible (and to keep my personal life as separated as possible). I also created a Facebook page for Ryley Kennedy that I did absolutely NOTHING with. So, I just spent a big chunk of time deleting that profile and page because I want to follow Facebook’s guidelines as closely as possible (and since Ryley is just my alter ego and not a real person, I can’t set up a profile as her). I will work on creating a Ryley Kennedy Facebook page under my primary account instead (I created a task in Trello to get this setup and to complete my profile as much as possible). My goal is to get that done this week.
  • Instagram – another account set up under false pretenses that I have now deleted. I will decide if I want to create a new account for this (I don’t do a lot on Instagram at the moment and I don’t know if I want another account to manage).
  • LinkedIn – this account was improperly set up as well. It has now been deleted. I don’t see a reason to create a page on LinkedIn for Ryley Kennedy at this time.
  • Goodreads – I have an account set up for Ryley Kennedy with 25 book reviews (I had forgotten I had done so many!) This is a great start and I’m excited to start updating this profile again.
  • Bookbub – I have a personal account but nothing for Ryley Kennedy. How do I want to handle this?
  • TikTok – I have a personal account but nothing for Ryley Kennedy. How do I want to handle this?

Now it’s time to move onto my writing assets, which are definitely not as well thought out as my Marketing assets (sigh).

Writing Assets

  • A great collection of romance novels, both print and digital editions. I’ve been reading romance novels since I was 12 and my love for them is apparent in my book collections. I’ve read the good, the bad and the ugly of 35 years of romance novels (and I continue to read them to this day). This definitely gives me a leg up over anyone who is just trying to break into this market because they want to make a “quick buck” (ha!)
  • 1 really terrible manuscript that I wrote in my early 20’s. It’s really terrible and let’s leave it at that. I don’t need to do anything with it but I do get to say that I once wrote a 400,000 word book (as best as I could), entered it in a bunch of contests and learned a lot of tough lessons through the process. Go me.
  • A lot of bits of writing over 40+ years stored here, there and everywhere. I’m not going to use 99.9% of it for my new novel but I like that I’ve never stopped writing (or reading about how to write better – more on that in a minute). I haven’t finished much (or at least it feels that way to me) but I’ve got lots of words on scraps of paper and there’s nothing wrong with that.
  • A nice library of how-to write books – everything from On Writing by Stephen King to How to Write a Romance Novel and Get It Published by Kathryn Falk (both editions). I reference these a lot.
  • A “launch pad” book. This is a book I read that is so terrible that I think I can write a better version. I’ll address this more in a future blog post, but I have a story that I am using for inspiration and I’m hoping that will help me get through my first draft that much faster.
  • The start of a Work in Progress (“WIP”). I have 2,000 words written already to help me get started on my career.
  • Plenty of writing supplies – notebooks (way too many of these), pens, pencils, new laptop, and all sorts of goodies to help me get inspired.

What I Don’t Have YET

  • A regular writing routine. This has to be priority #1. In the end, if I don’t have a product, I’ve got nothing to market. Duh.
  • A social media strategy and presence. This I need to start to build.
  • An outline for my novel.

Lessons I Learned Today

Going through this process of figuring out what I have and what I don’t was very enlightening (although far more time consuming than I might have wanted).  I spent around an hour and a half fixing things I had set up incorrectly before and getting what I have left organized (and I don’t think I’m fully done yet). I made a good start today and I think that’s what matters most. I am going to do some reading this afternoon of an old romance that I love and take some notes on why I love this particular author (and how I can incorporate some of her skills into my own writing efforts). My brain hurts from spending some much time going through all this stuff, so I don’t think any writing will get done today. But all births are messy and a little chaotic so I figure I’m on the right path to greatness. Until next time, Happy Writing 🙂

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