Writing is a profession filled with misconceptions. The general public thinks once you have a book published you are immediately rich and famous. I’ll give my writer friends a moment to laugh out loud about that! Some writers are very familiar with the industry and how it works. Then there are those writers like me- flying by the seat of our pants and buying into what we think writing is all about. Now that I am in the process of having my first book published, there are so many things I wish I had known before I started.
- Start building your author platform. It doesn’t happen over night, or even over a year. The sooner you can start the better. If you are unsure what a platform is there are some excellent articles you can read. In a nutshell, it is a way for you to get your name out there and develop a following/fanbase or whatever you want to call it. If you are just beginning, my advice would be make a Facebook author page (different from your personal page), a Twitter account and a website with a blog. That is just a starting point. You may have had this picture of just you and your computer writing the great American novel, but it doesn’t work like that.
- Getting published is more work than writing the novel. Every publishing company wants something different. Some want a synopsis, some chapter summaries, some the first 50 pages and some the first 3 chapters. They will ask you about your author platform and how you plan to market your book. The only publishers aren’t the big names. Matter of fact, as an unpublished author they really won’t even look at you. There are thousands of independent and small publishing companies. This is where your network with other authors can really come in handy, especially if they write the same genre as you. Ask for recommendations and suggestions. I am not knocking self publishing, but that requires money up front. Watch out for companies that want you to pay them to publish your book. I know sometimes you may feel desperate, but there are other options. A good editor and cover designer are mandatory. You have worked too hard to try to edit it yourself or design a cover if you don’t know what you are doing. You want to surround yourself with people that can polish what you have done and help you present the best possible product. I have been extremely happy with my publisher. They have educated me, walked me through the process and provided me with a high quality team.
- Don’t quit your day job! I heard somewhere that 90-95% of published authors write on the side. Meaning they have a full or part time job other than writing. But most of the writers I know write because they love it. They write because they have to- it’s almost a physical need like breathing. So in my opinion, if I can make any money doing what I love- it’s a great thing.
- Don’t think you will remember everything. Keep a spiral or something that you can use for notes. Write down plot ideas, character ideas or anything you think might be used at a later date. Everyone has their own style. Some just write with no planning or outlining. Others outline for months before they start a book. I think you need some planning. I like to outline my characters and get to know them before I start writing. Sometimes that helps when you have a small character that appears in the beginning and then doesn’t reappear for 200 pages. You may forget their name or other pertinent information. Or you may start writing and get a hundred pages done and find a huge hole in your plot that didn’t rear it’s ugly head until you really started hashing things out. Yeah, that one is from personal experience, and it still stings!
Hopefully, you will find something in here that will help you along your writing path. Remember, you don’t have to be published to be an author. If you are writing, then you are a writer.