10 Publishing Lessons From A Newbie (Part 1)

1. IWritingt pays to hire and editor, but know what you are paying for first. 

The best and worse thing that I did when I finished Blood Child was hire an editor.  I had read over and over again about how poorly edited some independent authors published works have been and how it gives a bad name to all of the self-publishing folks. So I hired an editor which was smart. The problem was I could only afford one round of edits and questioning and really didn’t know what questions to ask. I took everything my lovely editor told me (Stephanie, you really were a dream) and thought I was done. Nope, not even close. After I made those changes my sister, Zee, found twenty-one errors in the manuscript right before I was going to approve publishing.

Twenty-one errors.  Twenty-one things that would have taken away from the story that I worked so hard to create.

Those errors ended up delaying publication by two months and costing me over $200  since I had to reformat the book again. It was a nightmare. Still, I would pay for the professional editing again if given the chance. The feedback I received was invaluable.  The notes I received became the basis for the synopsis, helped me focus the book and gain confidence.  The only thing I would and will do differently is give the manuscript to my sister sooner. Her keen eyes were beyond helpful and if I had done it when she first offered I would have saved myself a lot of money and grief.

If you don’t have a sister like mine who can spot typos and other errors then it is worth it to pay for a second round of editing. Yes, it is expensive and there is no way of getting around it. Poor editing will cost you readers.

2. You may not want to tell anyone what you are doing. 

Seriously, you may want to keep your impending book to yourself until it is actually impending.  Your friends and family are well meaning and want to encourage you, but the last thing you want when you are stuck is someone asking you when it is come out every time they see you. It is pure torture. Trust me on this.

It will also help when you are going through the editing and revision process.  It took me more than a year to complete that part of the process.

Now, this doesn’t apply to you inner circle of friends. I don’t think I could have made it through this process if it wasn’t for their support. There were times when comments made by folks outside that circle made me question what I was doing or feel bad about how long the process was taking. Things will always take longer than you think.

Don’t ask me what to do about the second book, I am not there yet.

3. You really do need a marketing plan. 

There are a lot of great books out there and many of them never make their author millions.  Many only make a couple hundred dollars a year. Some make nothing at all. To be successful, you have to a plan.  So do you research and talk with other authors. See how the people who are successful have done it and follow their examples.

Their examples will likely include a whole bunch of work as well as rejection.

Don’t just assume that if you put a good book out there that readers will follow. Yes, you will get a few, but if you don’t market it then no one is going to know about it. Marketing is more than just asking or begging people to buy your book.

Making connections is now a part of the deal.  You are going to talk to people not just flood on-line forums with your books.  I have a satchel by next that I am filling with copies of my book, business cards and book flyers. My regular purse is going to have business cards in it with all my important information, i.e. ways to connect with readers.  Do you have a writer’s blog? Do you at least have an author’s page? Are you on Twitter and Tumblr? Instragram? Should all of the accounts be linked?

These all all questions that I am working on. I do have an author page and instagram, but using them effectively is another story.

4. You will make a mistake (several, if you are lucky) 

Mostly likely more than one.  It may be a big one or a little one. In my case, I made several mistakes. The first was making an unrealistic publication plan. I thought I could finished everything in a two month period.  A year and three months later, Blood Child was published on February 13th. 2015.  Not on October 31st, 2013. It is hard seeing that first release date pass me by, but as a good friend and author of my mine say “Take your time and do it right.”

I learned from that mistake as well as letting my fear paralyze me.  Take it from some of the great writers of our times, typos happen. If they happen to folks like John Green and Neil Gaimen, they will happen to you.

5. You are not only an artist, but now a businessman as well. 

Your dream was to write your book. Now, it is done and you need to get it out there without going broke.  This is not the same as number 3. It is a result of living number 3 and some very direct conversations with friends, a nosy neighbor and family.

Yes, the dream is important.  You wouldn’t have gotten this far without dreams, now that your book is in your hands you want to sell it.  Admit it, you want to make money off of it.  My Kindle is filled with free books. I love them and every time I finish a book, I do review it on Amazon the problem is that not everyone is going to do that.   My own reading schedule has come to a slow crawl between three jobs, writing and well, life.

Business have goals.  Set them and work for them just like you did when you writing your book.

Reviews will help move your book, so how are you going to get them? You can’t assume that your friends and loved ones will put up a review for you. They are more likely just to give the comments to you.  I am still working on this one with Blood Child.  I have gotten good feedback from readers so far two weeks out I don’t have any reviews to use as marking or as feed back.

Part of getting your book out there is knowing when to give it away, how much are you going to charge for it and where to sell it?

Yes, you can sell it on-line via Amazon, but there are other book sellers out there.  How do you get a hold of them?

Should you give away your book on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) every time it is eligible?

What are the pros and cons of selling your books off your own website?

All good questions.  Now go and find the answers.

6.  The Scary Step… 

One thing you need to do and do it sooner than later is let someone read your book. Some one you trust and listen to their feedback.  A book is a precious thing, but it isn’t an actually baby. You can’t protect it and you may need to change something to make it more marketable.

The world and internet are filled with tales of writers who didn’t give in to publishing pressure and were successful.  I admire those people. I really do, but most of us need feedback and we need to know when something doesn’t work.

So listen to the readers and writers you know, consider what they say and then make a decision.

This lesson was brought home to me after my boyfriend read the prologue to the next book. He said “Interesting.” and I had to get the answer out of him.  The prologue made the protagonist sound like she was suicidal, which she wasn’t. He wasn’t the first to tell me that; his answer was the final straw that made me go back and read it like an outsider, not the beloved creator.

And Rae was coming across as if she was on the verge of killing herself. She wasn’t so o I changed it and fell in love with the story again.

7. Writing will change the way you read. 

Today, I was re-reading one of my favorite books and I realized that there was a huge plot hole.  Then I started seeing typos. I have been paying attention to how authors shape stories and create imagery. It is amazing and doesn’t ruin the reading experience; just makes me think.   Basically, I have been reading to improve my own writing. Is it working? I don’t know, but it is making me think and reflect on my writing.

Short quick sentences in an action scene can quicken the pace for the readers.

Chapters don’t have to be a certain number of pages. I actually worried about this when writing and editing Blood Child.

8. It isn’t going to get any easier. 

Your next book isn’t going to write itself and your current book won’t promote itself.  So you have to get started and do something.

One my idols, Amanda Palmer, is a year younger than me. One year younger and she is out there making her dreams come true. I don’t begrudge her a single thing. Not one single thing. She has earned her accolades and awards. And one day I might earn some as well. In the meantime, I have to write and do the work like she did.  Like every person who I admire has done.

So I write. Everywhere I am, I write. Everyday. I write. Maybe not a lot, but words go on to paper or into my digital recorder everyday. Even the days that I say I am taking a break. I do some writing.

9. Be Nice

You are going to get frustrated with all the do’s and don’ts but before you take your aggression and frustration out on-line.  I followed another Indie author for more than a year on twitter when he had a melt-down about editing costs and how he couldn’t afford it.  The rant turned nasty all by itself. I am not sure if anyone else followed.

The copy editor or assistant of today could be the editor tomorrow. Publishing companies go through transitions and the person you think is unimportant now could be the one making the decision on whether to except you book tomorrow.

10. Luck is a part of the game.

In life, you can never discount the importance of luck in life.  So if you get lucky... share it. Pass on the things that helped you get where you are and keep working.  The amazing thing about luck is that there is a component of hard work to it. You need to do the work so when the door opens you are ready to go through it.



P.S.  Blood Child is available on Amazon in both paperback and kindle formats.




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