Advice to new writers…

girlWe were all new once.  Bright eyed and dreaming of earning enough money to buy a piazza in the hills of Tuscany, where we could write and write to our hearts content and receive continual royalties to never have to do much ever again.

OK, now welcome to the real world.  More and more, publishing is a crap shoot.  Not only is it harder to get into established publishing houses, but everyone and their grandmother are self publishing to the point where Amazon and like wholesalers are deluged with titles, enough that even the best of them could get lost.  So what to do?

Well, I’m no expert, but I can certainly give advice on what not to do from the perspective of someone who’s seen the process from both sides for over 15 years.  I can also mention that I’ve been on the inside, having worked for a publishing house in the years before self publishing became all the rage.

The first thing I will say is – be patient.  I know that’s a near impossibility with attention spans these days at a 15 minute limit, but trust me, you will reap the benefits of having done so.  So many times before I have seen new writers rush headlong into the fray, signing contracts without thought, paying thousands for marketing and commercialization only to be burned in the end.  The instant thrill of book signings and speaker events is enough to make a newbie heady with arrogance and give them a “look at me, I’m an instant success” air, which slowly turns into a cloud of smelly funk after the excitement dies off.  Older, more experienced writers will see them as a flash in the pan because in most cases, they are.  When the realization of deadlines comes into focus and you realize your contract has you writing three full length novels in the next 6 months, things will begin to look a little less exciting.  All the accolades your marketing department paid to get you will pale in comparison to the true readers reviews you will start seeing when the work you thought paralleled Hemingway was nothing short of a third grade essay, grammatical errors included.

Watch what you pay for.  Marketing and reviews can be had on very little if you watch the market and grow a fan base on your own before your novels are published.  This is easily done with bursts to Twitter, Facebook and especially Goodreads.

Second piece of advice with this in mind – tone it down.  We all know you’re excited that your new book has been released, and we’re happy for you, but we don’t want to see hyper, multi-replicated posts about it on every media outlet known to man.  I cannot tell you how many times I have seen members of groups outcast for this very action.  Do not ignore your online writers groups or local writing chapter for months on end and then suddenly appear with a box of books to sell and thousands of “look at me and my fabulous book” posts to them.  I’ll give you a hint, we’re writers too, it’s not such a miraculous event to us and we’re more likely to not buy your book if you mention it 15 times in one day.

Also, check your group’s guidelines before you start plastering your ads on every loop.  Most groups have specific areas for PR alone where you can post to your heart’s content.  Yes, it will be lumped together with a hundred other fabulous ads, but guess what, that’s the real world.  Publishing is not an overnight success sort of occupation.  Even Nora Roberts had to battle her way through editors and agents to get to where she is today.  She didn’t become famous overnight.  Neither did Jane Austen, or Suzanne Brockmann or Steven King for that matter.  They all put in their time, earned their reviews and received their fair share of rejections, and you will too, if you’re patient and allow yourself to grow and learn from those who have come before you.