Okay, so that may be a little dramatic. What I meant was, I just sent my manuscript off to the editor. Actually, my editor is a beautiful, amazing person. :waves to the sweet editor I love: But I never thought it would feel like this. I thought it would be a relief, that I’d finally be able to put the story behind me and move on, but in reality, I was a little sad.
My story had become my own little world. My characters like dolls I could manipulate and make do whatever I wanted! Saying I’m done, cleaning up the mess, and packing up my toys was bitter sweet. But I guess I could say that about this entire writing journey as a whole. Have you seen this image? This about sums up my expectation, versus how it actually went.
Writing my first novel has been one hell of a ride! It’s been bumpy, exciting, and very, very humbling. It’s been just over a year of absolute CRAZY, but I’m truly proud of myself for fulfilling this dream. I heard a statistic that said, “80% of American’s will start a book in their lifetime, but only 10% of those people will actually finish one.” I believe it. It’s hard to stay focused all the way to the end. And even if nothing comes of this crazy novel, I’ll be able to say “I wrote a book once.” Pretty awesome all in its self.
BUT, if you’ve ever wrote a book, you know that writing a story is only half the battle. There’s critiques, editing, blurbs, publishing, editing, promotion, and did I mention editing? Writing the story is only the beginning. I thought in this post I’d give some insight into what I’ve learned over the past year. Hopefully it will be helpful to someone just starting out.
ONE: Critiques are wonderful. I wouldn’t be where I am without them. But, you can never forget, critiques are only one person’s opinion. Opinions that could work for your manuscript… or not. They could even steer you in the wrong direction, so consider them critically. Step away, take a deep breath, and don’t do anything rash. I realize, I write this like I have it all figured out, but trust me, I don’t. If you happen to be friends with me on FB, you’ll absolutely KNOW it’s not true. You see, I tend to freak out a little when people don’t like my story. Or even if they love it, but one part bugs them. In fact, if ten people told me they LOVED that part, I’d agonize over the ONE who didn’t… Human nature? Or could be just me? Regardless, I’m still working on my deep breathing techniques.
TWO: I think I’ve wrote about this before, but it’s important enough to mention again. You can’t please everyone! There will be people who don’t like your characters, don’t like your style, that don’t like first person, or third, who don’t like your beginning, ending, or middle. But even best selling authors have bad reviews. Probably hundreds of them. If you don’t believe me, think of the best book you’ve ever read, then go read the reviews. It boggles the mind really; how can some love, and others hate the same thing so much? But I guess that’s why there’s endless amount of room for stories. There’s a different flavor for everyone. Pick the one that works for YOU, and write the hell out of it.
THREE: All editors, cover artistes, PR companies, etc, are NOT created equal.
Every editor will have their own flavor. Shop around. Ask questions, ask them to do a sample edit, find authors who’ve used them in the past, and ask about their experience. Don’t stop until you find one that makes your writing feel like you, only better. Do this early. Good editors are often booked out months in advance. Even if you’re not ready to book just yet, it’s helpful to know who you’ll use when you ARE ready. Trust me, there are so many thing to do in the end, having that decision made, will be a God send.
Whether you self publish, or go the traditional route, you’ll need to promote yourself. It’s never too early to get yourself set up on social media and start making connections. I find Facebook and Twitter to be the most active.
Promotion companies: These are companies who specialize in book promotion. They work with bloggers to do cover reveals, Blitz’s, virtual book tours, parties, etc. They come in all shapes and sizes, specialize in all different genre’s, so look for one that fits your goals, personality, budget, and audience. It will be worth it to investigate and find one you really love.
Bloggers: These can be some of the most helpful, sweetest people in the world. I think they can get a bad reputation from the few that are not this way, but in my experience, they have hearts of gold, and are willing to share their knowledge. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
Authors: I don’t know what I would do without my author friends. They’ve either been there before, or are walking right along with me, but this journey would be mighty lonely, and a whole lot scarier without them.
So that’s it for now. If you’re still walking this crazy path, don’t be afraid to look me up on FB! We’ll walk the road together!