During long Texas summers of her childhood, Norma was seldom seen without book in hand.
She wrote on every newspaper for every school she attended, then received her bachelor’s degree in Journalism. For twenty-five years, she had the time of her life building a specialized marketing and advertising firm before retiring in her mid forties.
Afraid her brain would atrophy, and wanting to learn more about her Christian faith, Norma graduated in May 2009 with her Masters in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary. A 2007 archaeological tour of Israel and Jordan planted seeds for the creation of Norma’s protagonist, Archaeologist Grace Madison, PhD., answering the eternal question, “What are YOU going to do with your seminary degree?”
Norma lives in the Rocky Mountains with her husband, Randall, and they are thankful parents of two grown children. She writes only about locations she studies and visits for her manuscripts, which means she travels the globe. Norma is a world-class angler, dangerous cross-country skier, and capable marksman.
Norma’s site is: http://nlbhorton.com
Here is Norma’s post:
Last fall, less than seventy-two hours after returning from a writers’ conference accosting acquisitions editors, a Big Six Imprint asked for my first manuscript.
Things then slowed considerably when they deemed my heroine “too atypical.” A very fine literary agent now shops the three-book proposal everywhere.
When Laurence graciously asked for a guest blog about this writing adventure (which began with a journalism degree in the eighties, and was honed in marketing and advertising for twenty-five years), I thought immediately of the social media challenge.
Writers I know tend to be hermits like myself, so tossing a private soul to public wolves is intimidating and puzzling. What to do? My epiphany occurred when I realized I was no longer me, but rather the product.
I instituted the demographic grinder: Who is my market? What are they interested in reading? What are they buying? The NYTimes bestseller list is a good place to begin research, and the recent-release shelf of your local bookstore depicts what publishers are signing. (If you’re not using a professional Facebook page, you’re missing a demographic bonanza; the reports are invaluable.)
I questioned my “product.” What is its competitive point of difference? How does it nest uniquely in the marketplace? How can I position it in the best, most engaging light?
To answer these, I had to know market and genre, study competition, and analyze accomplishments and topic. Gone are the days when authors are Hemingway catching a marlin with one hand while writing The Old Man and the Sea with the other. Today’s authors have to be aware, educated, and savvy.
Then I analyzed data and budgeted. What could I do—copy and design—and what did I need to contract? I fearlessly created Facebook and Twitter pages, and my original website (now being redesigned as my persona evolves).
Fortunately, I’m a prolific (if untalented) photographer, so photos colorfully enhanced the initial platform that professionals now take to the next level. I sought input from the most qualified, talented people I could afford.
And I write. Two manuscripts are complete: first professionally edited, second scheduled for edit in July. I’ll finish the third by year’s end. A fourth and fifth lurk in my mind’s dark recesses. Meanwhile, manuscripts and persona mature simultaneously, creating the professional author’s image publishers seek.
I am an optimistic woman.
Thanks Norma. Writing is an adventure for me too. Full of ups and downs with a clear goal. I wish you, and all who drop by, all the best with all your writing and for your journey.
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