Alison DeLuca: Authors Make Their Own Success

Alison DeLuca is one of the absolute gems I’ve had the great good fortunate to hang out with on Twitter. I’ve never met her in person, but I can tell you this: Alison is an upbeat, always-pleasant-super-combination Mom, writer, and Space Mountain enthusiast. She loves haiku, her family, and her work. She’s a blogging queen, turning out great posts a couple times a week.

 Ms. DeLuca has a great sense of fun, and she knows how to be a friend. Oh, and she showers and puts on make-up before she sits down to write (unlike those of us who wear sweats and go unwashed for days at a time). Not only that, Alison is generous: She’s sharing tips about what has worked for her as an author. Read on!

Alison DeLuca:
When I first published my book, The Night Watchman Express, I made just about every possible mistake. I slapped my book up without a proper edit, cover, or a round of beta reads. I didn’t have a Twitter following. I hadn’t written a single blog post. Over the next few months, my sales went up or down by a few units, never exceeding ten a month. I was working on a sequel, and the original was barely scraping by.

However, in the past few months my sales surged! Night Watchman Express rose to the top of the steampunk genre ranking (my target) on Amazon. I sold over thirty books during December, and I hope to meet or exceed that this month. Here are some of the main reasons for my eventual success and the most important things I do as a writer:

1. I have built a large circle of friends and readers through careful use of social media. Writers really should have this in place before they publish. When I say careful use, I mean that I built a list of writers and friends to support me on Twitter and Facebook. Molly’s blogpost on building a twitter list of over 4000 followers was a huge help in this.

2. I have a close circle of fellow authors. I’m lucky enough to publish with a small start-up publisher. There are about thirty writers in the group, and we all support each other in different ways. This means that I don’t have to navigate the writing waters alone; at any time I have a large circle of professionals who can help me with things like SEO, metadata, blurbs, Goodreads, and Author Central.

3. I paid for a professional cover. The first thing any prospective reader sees is your cover; every writer knows that. But does every writer know to look at the covers of the top selling books in his or her genre? Will he or she remember to look at the cover as a thumbnail within a group of thumbnails, to make certain it stands out when it comes up as a search result, even on a smart phone? Some writers can create their own beautiful covers. I cannot. Therefore, I used a cover concept that was created by one of the writers in my publishing group, and I had a graphic artist realize that concept.

4. I track my book sale on novelrank. As a writer in an independent press, it’s up to me to make certain I get eyes on my cover, and thus, on my book. If my sales go down, I know it’s time to tweet or write a blog post.

5. I make certain my readers get a quality product. Two groups of beta readers and two rounds of editors now read my books before they go live. I believe in what I do, which is: create quality steampunk adventures for my readers.

6. I sent out my book for reviews on several sites. That meant my book had a good bank of reader feedback for prospective buyers to view. I think it’s very important for a book on a site like Amazon to have a range of reviews for a new reader to access.

Alison-DeLuca_OptimizedAlison DeLuca is the author of The Night Watchman Express and Devil’s Kitchen, both steampunk fantasies for young adults.  She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain.  As a teacher she taught every grade level in every kind of school district possible.

She wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey.

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26 Responses to Alison DeLuca: Authors Make Their Own Success

  1. Jo VonBargen January 24, 2012 at 3:04 pm #

    Wow, wonderful advice, Alison! I so appreciate reading how successful authors “did it”. Thanks, Molly, for posting this! Both of you rock!!

  2. Jolyse Barnett January 24, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

    Thanks for the tips and inspiration, Alison. Much appreciated! I wish you much success. And you’re right, Twitter is wonderful. 🙂

  3. Dean Lappi January 24, 2012 at 4:21 pm #

    What a great guest post Alison. You are an amazing person and your advice and experiences in publishing are excellent to read about. Kindest regards, Dean

  4. Jodi January 24, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

    This is great information!

  5. Pamela Brennan Albacete January 25, 2012 at 3:43 am #

    GREAT BLOG! We are blessed to know Alison. Her knowledge and insight are priceless!

  6. Jenny Milchman January 25, 2012 at 4:27 am #

    I heartily second that Alison is a great friend to writers everywhere–and deserves on many levels every inch of the success she’s getting. I also second the need for editing, editing, and more editing–the key to a great book, which in the end probably means even more than the tweets.

    No need to enter me in a giveaway–I already have a copy of Alison’s wonderful book!!

  7. Veronica Bartles January 25, 2012 at 5:35 am #

    Great advice! Thanks so much! I’ll add this post to the list of links I pass on when people ask me for publishing advice 🙂

    • Molly Greene January 25, 2012 at 6:32 am #

      Thank you all so much for your support! Alison rocks!

  8. R.P. "Ron" McCabe January 25, 2012 at 7:17 am #

    Alison ~ Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. The publishing world is changing rapidly. The Amazon influence, positive or negative, debateable, cannot be ignored. And if a writer expects to compete seriously in this market place, he or she has no choice but to take seriously the nuances of social marketing, as it were. I’m doing my best to figure it all out and making plenty of mistakes along the way. My own novel, Betrayed, will debut this summer. I was on the fence about a pre-release social media blitz but you are convincing me that I’d better get serious about going forward with that project.Thanks again for your insights.–R.P. Mcabe

  9. Alison DeLuca January 25, 2012 at 9:26 am #

    Hello, everyone! I’m not an expert by any means, but I’m certainly very happy to share what I have picked up. That learning curve is very steep.

    Molly’s blog has been a big help as I continue to write and publish, as it has been chock full of practical advice. Thanks so much for having me here, and I look forward to awarding someone a copy of Night Watchman!

  10. bn100 January 25, 2012 at 9:56 pm #

    I enjoyed reading your advice. Congratulations on your book!

  11. Mark Brassington January 26, 2012 at 10:53 am #

    Molly and Alison both rock – great blog post with an incredible amount of useful information. Really enjoyed this.
    I am in the beginning stages – building a Twitter following, small group of writer friends to rely on. My blog is coming along. Once I am ready for my book to go live I will make sure I refer to this article.



    • Molly Greene January 26, 2012 at 10:59 am #

      Thanks so much for stopping by, Mark! You’re doing everything right so far – good luck to you with your book launch, let us know when you release!

  12. erica January 27, 2012 at 8:26 am #

    Loved what you said about tracking your book sales!

  13. MRC January 27, 2012 at 8:34 am #

    Great post! I’m just learning the ropes of Twitter and blogging and how important social media is to promote yourself. I have a few short stories and I’m not getting many comments from those who stop by to read them. So I know I still have a lot to learn.
    I’m a retired teacher also 🙂
    I did write a book for my new grandchild, on It’s a poem put to pictures. I’m very proud of the outcome which gives me inspiration to continue writing.
    Thanks for sharing Alison and thanks for posting Molly . . . More inspiration 🙂

  14. Kerry Ann (aka Vinobaby) January 27, 2012 at 9:57 am #

    Very helpful post, thanks! I’m working on building a following now. I’m also knee-deep in the first of many rounds of editing–it can be overwhelming, but I can’t imagine letting even a beta read my manuscript at this stage.

    I envy your circle of support. That is next on my journey: finding fellow writers for advice and input.

    Nice to ‘meet’ you.

    p.s. I’m a Space Mtn junkie too.

    • Molly Greene January 27, 2012 at 10:41 am #

      Aaaaack! Don’t even talk about editing. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment, Kerry Ann!

  15. Julie Long January 27, 2012 at 1:11 pm #

    Alison, you shower AND put on makeup before you write? (says the woman who’s still unbathed at 5 pm.) I’m soaking up your knowledge and your commitment to cleanliness. Hopping in right now, I swear!

  16. Jennie Coughlin January 31, 2012 at 9:42 am #

    Great piece, Alison! Your advice tracks with what I’ve learned in my first few months or promoting my first book — lessons I’m applying to the next book coming out, hopefully in a few months. Your post is definitely something all new or potential indie authors should read. The more we help each other avoid the pitfalls by sharing information, the better we’ll all do!

  17. Rachel Creager Ireland February 23, 2012 at 8:22 am #

    I’m curious about the places you sent it for reviews. Would like to know more. Do you use them for testimonials? Or is there a way to get them posted at the retailer’s site? Does the reader do that?

    • Molly Greene February 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm #

      Hi Rachel! I can’t answer for Alison because I haven’t published myself – but I believe you need to research book reviews/bloggers (you can search them on twitter), then approach & ask for a review. Try Novel Publicity’s website for more ideas along this line. Hope this helps!

      • Jennie Coughlin February 25, 2012 at 10:43 am #

        Depends on the reviewer. Some have cross-posted their reviews at Amazon, but most host them on their own site. I’ve pulled lines from those reviews to add to my own site and the product description page for the book, plus I’ll often use a line in a tweet promoing the book. Also, be aware most book bloggers will say no because their TBR lists are high, so look for three or four times more reviewers than the number of reviews you’re hoping to get. Build in time, too. My book came out in early September and one review just came through Friday. I’d actually forgotten the reviewer had said she would review it. It’s a great review – definitely worth waiting for – but don’t discount the time factor. On my next book, I’m building in a lot more pre-release time to send out ARCs for the book for just that reason.

        • Molly Greene February 26, 2012 at 7:30 am #

          Jennie!! Thank you so much for this information. Spot on for where I am in the process – we deeply appreciate your help!

  18. Terry Tyler April 18, 2013 at 10:04 am #

    Interesting post! Oh yes, the mistakes we make at first – I didn’t know how to use Twitter, didn’t get properly proof read… you name it! I also used to poo-pooh getting the book reviewed by book bloggers, as I considered that reviews should all come from people who had chosen to buy and review the book; I felt that to ask for a review was somehow a bit pathetic. Wrong! The only thing I don’t agree with is the novelrank site – I insisted my books were taken off it, as it’s information that’s available to anyone who wants to look at it, and I consider the amount of books I sell to be a private matter. I don’t think it’s accurate, anyway, and if I want to see how many books I’ve sold I look at my Amazon report. I get that if you go through a publishing company you perhaps can’t do that, though

  19. Stephanie Faris February 18, 2014 at 8:10 am #

    So glad you posted this! I have a book coming out in a month and I’m still trying to figure all of this out. Whether you’re self-published or working with a publisher, you still have to use social media, blogging, and the like to build a following. It’s even more challenging when you write for 10-year-olds and they aren’t allowed to use social media!

    • Molly Greene February 18, 2014 at 8:15 am #

      Thanks, Stephanie. There’s a lot to learn but there’s also an enormous amount of info out there to help you along. Congrats and best to you on your upcoming book release!