10 Things You Learn After Being a Published Author for a Year
Many of you have reached out to me with questions about editing and publishing. I do my best to give advice, and learn the tricks of the trade. On August 11th of 2015, my first book, An Angel in the Distance, was published through CleanReads. (Check them out at cleanreads.com they’re doing some amazing things!) Since then, there are a few things that I have gleaned, and compiled in this list for all of you up-and-coming authors and authoresses.
Okay, go ahead and laugh, or scowl, or throw something at the screen. It is true. We’ve all heard the cliché, “Rome wasn’t built-in a day,” well, your book won’t be published in a day, or a month, or a year, or maybe not a decade. In this business, you have to be willing to stick it out, through the highs and lows, no matter what happens, or what people think or say. Remember, God made you a writer – and NO ONE can take that way from you.
9. THIS IS NOT GOING TO BE EASY
Most of us heard the song and dance in college or high school about how to get published. Unfortunately, no one tells you what happens AFTER you get published. The publishing market is changing, and it certainly isn’t what it was 30 years ago. If you’re lucky enough to get published, be prepared to do some promotional leg work. If nothing else, it looks REALLY good to potential agents/publishers.
8. PAY ATTENTION TO THE COMPETITION
Most of us have heard that in order to be a good writer, you have to be a good reader. I’ve lived by that for years. (In fact I have more books that my two shelves can hold…. maybe I should do something about that). However, it is so much more than that. How do other authors do what they do? Pay attention. I can’t stress it enough!
7. MAKE AUTHOR FRIENDS
Do you have a friend who wrote a book? Now you do 😉 Authors are a part of this secret pact that is kind of like, “You scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.” Okay, so I’m oversimplifying, but remember, you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar, and always expect to give long before you ask for something. And always, always, ALWAYS be gracious!! Nobody likes a snobby author!!
6. IT’S OKAY TO WRITE WHAT YOU KNOW
It never really occurred to me until after I had published something that there was a possibility that someone would read my book and go, “Oh, I know who she based that character on.” If you look at your characters and see the reflection of someone you know, don’t panic. That is actually a GOOD thing. Before you tell me I’m crazy, here is why: sometimes the most real characters are the ones we know. If you’re really worried about this, talk to the person you based your character on, and see what they think. You may have to change a few things about your character, but in the long run, you’ll know who they are and no one can take that from you. Besides, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or so I hear.
5. PRAY. PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!
If you don’t know the Lord and I just made you wrinkle your nose, calm down. I’m a Christian. I know Jesus Christ. He’s taking me to where I’m going, and I wouldn’t be where I am without him. Faith, (in any form), has A LOT to do with starting any endeavor, so if you don’t believe, you’ll never receive.
4. READ AS MUCH AS YOU CAN
I thought it was nuts when my high school English teacher suggested that we read in order to become better writers, and imitate techniques. How wrong I was. By reading, you GET ideas, you GET insight, you GET the chance to experience something different. So what if you’ve never read a Star Wars spin-off novel – PICK ONE UP. Different authors have different techniques, and that can be a game changer.
3. KNOW THAT THIS WILL BE A FULL TIME JOB
As I stated above, being an author isn’t like sending your dog to the kennel for a week while you’re in Fresno. It’s more like sending your kid off to college – you’ll be checking in, holding on, and chatting them up every chance you get. If you get published, this will be a full-time job promoting and building your brand as long as you want to have an audience.
2. BRING BRAG SWAG WITH YOU – EVERYWHERE!
Okay, so we all detest that chick who is handing out her business cards in an overtly opulent way to the cashier at the Burger King. We all know who she is. You don’t have to be over the top, but having something physical to hand to someone who hasn’t heard of you, is a great way to network and gain opportunities to grow your brand and your audience.
1. DON’T BE AFRAID TO TELL THE WORLD
Probably the biggest mistake I’ve made in the last year was not shouting it from the rooftops that I got something published. I’m a private person, and that just wasn’t me. DON’T BE LIKE ME. Build your brand NOW. You’re a writer. It is going to be your profession (at least one of them) so be PROUD OF IT. Anyone can scribble, but few people can write something and endure the pain of rejection long enough to make it in the publishing world.
Shout out to Meg Cabot for inspiring the list writer in me though her best-selling young adult series, The Princess Diaries.
If you have questions, feel free to comment. At the risk of being redundant I will add a lyric from High School Musical – “We’re all in this together.”