We were once all Newbie writers. The first time we wrote “The End” on our first novel, we thought we had produced the world’s greatest piece of literature ever written. Why wouldn’t agents and publishers be all over it? Don’t they know we’ll make them millions?
We’ve all been there and I get it. For twenty years now I’ve been writing and those first newbie moments have come and gone. I was so green that when I once received a rejection letter from a literary agent telling me I needed my novel seriously edited, I actually called her and grilled her about “what does that even mean?” I can’t imagine her dinner table conversation that night. Still, this kind, gracious agent actually took a moment to explain what that meant and led me to the editor I use today.
This is not to say that twenty years later I know this industry inside and out, because I don’t. This business (because it IS a business) is changing constantly and with the addition of social media, I’m learning right along with everyone else. But, I know the first draft of a new novel is not the world’s greatest masterpiece. It’s just a first draft and I’m now savvy as to what comes next. The work, the editing, the tearing out of my hair as I clean this monster up.
But newbie writers are like little kids. They don’t know yet what is coming. The moment I hear someone say to me, “Oh yeah, I always wanted to write a book,” my response (years ago) used to be “ooh, how exciting, go write it!” My enthusiasm was endless for them. That’s waned after I soon realized these people had no intention of ever sitting down to write a book, much less finish it. Now I just smile because while I’m excited that person wants to step into this literary insanity, the chances of them actually doing it and completing it are extremely rare. “Wanting to write a book” is very different than “writing a book,” which is very different than “getting the novel ready for publication.” Every step along the way requires a tremendous amount of effort.
I’ve worked very hard at this craft over the years and tried to learn this industry. I finally acquired an agent and also self pubbed a book. And while I do not profess to know everything, there are some bits of advice I can impart to new writers who just finished their first draft.
#1 – Don’t say to every published author you meet: “I just wrote a book and need an agent. Can you get me one?”
Why? Because the first question they’ll ask you is “did you get the book professionally edited?” I’ve heard answers ranging from “I used spell check, it’s too expensive, I’m sure it’s fine, my mom read it and loved it and I’m sure it will sell.” I’ve also been met with blank stares and condescension that I would even ask the question. Um…. ok. So the answer is, “no, I really can’t get you an agent but I can direct you to a directory where they all are and you can start querying.”
#2 – Learn Social Media. Even if you get that agent or get that book deal with a publisher, as a new writer, you will be required to create your own social marketing platform. So, get yourself a webpage, a blog, a Facebook Author Fan Page and a Twitter acct. If you’re Type “A” also get on Google+, Goodreads and a host of other author sites. Get a book trailer going on youtube. Do everything you can and link it all back to you and where someone can purchase your book. You need to build your fan base to get the word out that your novel is ready to be read.
#3 – Keep writing. Why? Because if you sit around watching your Amazon ranking #’s or sit around waiting for the agent to call, you will fall into a great, sinking depression. Always keep yourself busy with another WIP, short story, flash fiction. I don’t care what it is, but keep writing. The more books you have out there, the better off you will be and the more sane you’ll be having your mind kept busy.
So, I leave you with this new writers… yes, some badly edited works get picked up and make millions. But honestly, that’s like winning Lotto – it’s really not real life. So instead, congratulate yourself on taking the first step and finishing your book. Now take the second one and pay to get it edited by a respected editor… and then take the third step and get your ducks all lined up. It’s going to be a heckava ride!
Please feel free to check out my Dark Fantasy Tale THE WORLD OF KAROV.
US Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/World-Karov-Children-Demilee-ebook/dp/B00APJ6Z6Y/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377874818&sr=8-1&keywords=the+world+of+karov
UK Amazon: http://www.amazon.co.uk/World-Karov-Children-Demilee-ebook/dp/B00APJ6Z6Y/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_kin?ie=UTF8&qid=1377874976&sr=8-1&keywords=the+world+of+karov
The sequel, THE RUBY AMULET is scheduled for release, December 2013.