As you’ve likely already gathered, I’m celebrating the release of Lillian Holmes and the Leaping Man. It’s not my first book, and according to my wonderful editor, Chris Keeslar, it’s not my last. In fact, it’s about the 15th book I’ve written over just shy of a decade. Not prolific by romance author standards. A lot of things have gone well and poorly for me over that decade. The worst of it I brought on myself; some of it was the result of “real life” getting in the way of writing.
If you are a new or aspiring author, you’re likely doing some of the same things, or are about to. It wasn’t really until I wrote Lillian Holmes that I actually liked what I was writing—a lot. And it wasn’t until I won Boroughs’ short story contest that I worked with an editor who seemed to like my writing a lot.
I don’t know how to sell a ton of books—if that’s the advice you need, please look elsewhere. But I know how to sabotage myself. This is about taking care of yourself through the process of writing, of navigating the online world (because, let’s face it, that is the world of publishing these days). I hope it’s true that you’re never too old to start, to learn, to grow. I’m counting on it as I write the sequel to Lillian’s story.
So, get out your mental pencil, and see how many of these things you are doing. If it’s more than 0, you may want to reset. Don’t give up. Unless you want to. And remember, these are all things I have done and will never do again. Until maybe next week.
- Spend most of your time researching agents, publishers, self-publishing, and marketing before you write the book. Finish the damned book first. Really, if you haven’t finished one manuscript, stop reading this now, log off the Internet, and go finish the book.
- Sub an unfinished manuscript to an agent or publisher. They really, really love that. No, really. Go for it. Ahem. They’re just sitting there waiting for your unfinished project.
- Find any agent, because any agent is better than no agent, right? Even the one who has never actually sold a book to a publisher or keeps sending you toxic letters about how you do everything wrong.
- If it’s good enough for your family, it must be publishable. There are many other places to get proper feedback—writing groups with published writers, published writers, and more published writers. Contests can be helpful. Any place where you get feedback from an editor is good. Neighbors and family…unless you are very fortunately connected…skip them.
- It’s a good idea to trash an author for their…personality, poor grammar, bad book, etc. (I’ve been on both sides of this; was an editor at Decadent Publishing for a bit.) You never know who will be accepting or rejecting your manuscript. Or trying to decide whether or not to buy your book.
- It’s an even better idea to publicly trash an editor. Don’t hold back! You know you’re right! Aren’t you?
- Comment on those bad reviews—all of them! Because it’s not possible that someone actually hated your book. You’ve loved every book you’ve read. And what are reviews anyway? A chance for everyone to show you love!
- Facebook and Twitter are great spots to vent all your loathing about publishing. Don’t worry about being professional…nothing is saved on the Internet.
- Spend a very large portion of your day trolling the Internet for publishing controversies, and by all means, pick a side and obsessively check if anyone insulted you. If they didn’t, find another equally inflammatory topic to weigh in on.
- If it’s a big, popular, niche site with pretty ads and lots of readers, it must be a fair, unbiased place. Snort.
- Don’t be nice to other authors—they are the enemy. They are stealing your readers!
- Chase that trend! See it—it went thataway! Go after it. No, wait, there’s another one now. Make that cozy romance a YA post-apocalyptic ghost-hunting dog-sitting club book.
- Argue with your editor over every freaking little thing, because of course, she or he is an idiot. When your editor gets four opinions to satisfy you, conclude that all of said editors are idiots. It may be confusing to them, but a reader will understand it. Okay, I have not done this one, but as I said, I was an editor. It happens a lot. And when that second book in the series is up for grabs, every editor is suddenly on vacation…
- Use a shot of your cleavage as your avatar. Because that’s classy and sexy. (For the record, I have not done this one either.)
- Check Amazon every day, no, every hour, to see if anyone bought your book. Use novelrank. Bang head against wall, why don’t you?
- Sign a contract that says you can’t write for any other company. Sign a contract without an audit clause.
- Write outside your comfort zone—whether age, sexual content, etc.
- Ask authors for their help or opinion and then don’t bother thanking them. (I have not done this, at least I hope not.) Better yet, yell at them electronically when you get an opinion you don’t like.
- Burn every bridge you see, with torches and gasoline.
- Make sure you get that word count in at the expense of your relationships, your health, your weight (you do have to move once in a while), your eyesight, your day job.
- Convince yourself that somehow you’ll crumble and not be a worthwhile person if you don’t get published. Many, many people in the world—in fact, most of them—have never been published. They aren’t bad people. You can quit, and still be a good person. An interesting, creative person. There’s a whole world out there, and writing is just one thing you can do in it. At age 56, I’m starting to realize that there are some things I want to do that might not involve writing. It’s your life—follow your heart—but make sure you’re listening carefully to what it’s telling you! Remember, these are many of the roadblocks that got in my way. They don’t need to be in yours. I’ve called in the wrecking ball. Good luck!
- And in the meantime, why don’t you swing by and read a great story? ;o)
Please add your tips to help other writers!