By Irene Sanders
At Your Service is an ongoing blog series where we ask a self-publishing industry professional to describe the services they provide so that self-published authors may learn more about the opportunities and resources afforded them.
Retired professional pool player, publisher of Pool & Billards Magazine, and author of two successful pool books, Shari Stauch is no stranger to publishing. In 2012, she founded Where Writers Win, a service that gives authors the training and help they need to polish and promote their books in the highly competitive world of publishing. Stauch’s service includes social media and media training, book trailers, writer coaching/editing, website development and marketing assistance. With its many offerings, Where Writers Win gives authors all the tools they could possibly need to make their books a success.
How, and why, was WWW founded?
When I retired from playing (pool) professionally in 2004 and became more entrenched in the writer world and less in the sports world, it became obvious that my experience could be useful to other authors. I began gathering useful resources for authors and talented professionals with a love for authors who would do what they did for big corporate clients (i.e. website design, media training), but for prices that were author friendly. By 2012, Where Writers Win was born.
You offer a large range of services; which is the most popular?
The Winner Circle! The Winner Circle is a tool that “shrinks the web” for authors, small publishers, and publicists. This was born out of a need to provide authors with an easier way to slog through the thousands of web search results out there to find just what each needed for their books. We added an interactive calendar of conferences and festivals where authors could request book signings or speaking engagements and rounded that out with competitions, templates for press releases, tutorials and more. We just completed a linked list, state by state, of over 15,000 libraries, because we see more authors able to use this underutilized avenue: pairing readings at libraries with bookstore signings, while supporting local libraries in the process. ( http://writerswin.com/join-today )
Explain some of the key ingredients in making a successful website?
A website is rather like the story of an author and their book(s). If the site isn’t telling your story, it’s not going to work as hard for you. An author website needs info about the author, the book(s), easy click-throughs to buy the book, a page for book club or reader discussion questions, and any ways that readers can further connect with the author via contact info, social media, and the author’s blog page. Authors tend to fear the blog part, but it’s really just an extension of their writing. It can talk about past or upcoming signings, characters, issues of interest to the author, scenes from the cutting room floor; the sky’s the limit. What’s important is that there’s some bit of the author in it that brings the reader closer and allows them to become true fans. Authors seldom believe they’re celebrities, but they are – why do readers attend book signings? To get to meet that author in person and rub elbows.
What makes your business unique from other companies that offer similar services?
No one offers what we offer in the Winner Circle – that in itself makes it truly unique. We have a team adding new entries each week and keeping things up to date for authors so that it continues to be useful. And our websites and social media training offer very customized service at the most competitive prices, because to be honest, we ONLY deal with authors and small publishers and we understand their specific challenges, not to mention the narrow margins in book sales. And we’re big on training authors to really be able to promote themselves and maintain their own sites, so that they’re not paying someone ongoing to do that (again, something that cuts into sales margins pretty fast!). Our job is to push an author out of the nest, and we get really excited when we see them spread those wings and fly!
With the Internet serving as a platform for everybody’s voices, in what ways can an emerging author distinguish his/her voice from the crowd?
Be yourself and be passionate about what you write, whether that’s romance or thriller or self help. It really is that simple and that hard. I know authors who blog in ways that really attract their unique readership, but if I tried to write the same way, I’d fail and just annoy my own readers; it wouldn’t be real. Building a platform isn’t about pleasing everyone, it’s really about finding your own “tribe,” and so your blogging, your social media entries, the posts and thoughts you share, really should mean something to you and be authentic.
Irene Sanders is a student at the University of Colorado Denver majoring in communications and minoring in business. She is an intern at BlueInk Review.
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