I reached out to Harper the day she started sending out ARCs to the masses and asked her to write this post for me while the pain of birth was still fresh in her mind. There are so many things to learn as a new author and the path to publication is never the same for any of us. Here are the top four pieces of advice Harper has for you based on her own rocky road.
What to Expect When You’re Expecting…to Be an Author
Having just hit publish on my first novel, I realized the familiarity of the feeling the experience left me with. I felt like I had just given birth. I did–in a very real way. Up until my manuscript was completed, the idea that I was writing a novel was an abstract and it wasn’t until I had typed those two damning words that I understood what I’d just done. Much like with my first child, now that it was here I realized I had no idea what the hell to do next.
So I’d written a book. Great. Amazing. A huge feat for me. But what now? As a novice on the writing scene, I had few avenues I could take and even fewer resources to get me where I needed to go. A couple of form rejection letters were enough to turn me away from traditional publishing which left me with the seemingly monumental task of going the self-publishing route.
I was a stranger in a strange land.
Sadly, through years of conflict, subversion and mistrust, few within the industry are willing to offer their hard-earned wisdom to the newcomers and understandably so. The self-publishing ocean is full of sharks. Consequently, I learned by trial and error with the help of a few kind souls willing to take a chance on a dewy-eyed publishing virgin and break me in gently. What did I learn? I’m so glad you asked.
First: Expect to rewrite until your eyes bleed. Writing isn’t enough. Polish your end product. Edit the ever loving hell out of it. Make sure every ‘t’ is crossed and every ‘I’ is dotted. This is your first time out of the gate; make sure you’re showing your readers the kind of quality you want them to expect from you. You’re already the new kid on the block in a neighborhood full of writers who have honed their craft and worked their way up the Independent ladder. You have some hard acts to follow, make sure you can keep up.
Second: Expect to go back to school. If you can’t afford professionals, you have a lot you’ll have to learn. Most authors have jobs that pay because, frankly, writing doesn’t unless your last name is King or Patterson. So unless you have a fairy bookmother, you’re going to have to do more than just write. Brush up on your Photoshop skills. Learn how to write blog posts and make teasers. Look up cover design specs and give yourself a refresher on those grammar classes you skipped in high school. You’re going to need them. I offer you this much–if you’ve ever wondered what the 7th level of Hell might really be like, I recommend trying to read a CS8 manual to figure out where your margins just went.
Third: Expect to shake a lot of virtual hands. The lifeline of the independent author belies the title we’ve been given. We are almost completely dependent on a pool of peers to get our work out there. Readers, bloggers…other authors… all are invaluable when it comes to getting your name seen in the already overwhelming pool of works that hit eBook retailers every day. You are going to have to interact with *gasps and clutches pearls* people. I know–it terrified me, too. Just square your shoulders, take a deep breath and put yourself out there. Word of mouth is a powerful tool so make sure yours is always kind. Be polite. Be professional. You are just beginning to build your image. They say never to judge a book by its cover. However, you are your book’s cover and people will judge. Put your best foot forward and do your damnedest not to put in it your mouth in the process.
Finally: Expect to be in it for the long haul. Perseverance. Resilience. Fortitude. A stiff drink wouldn’t be remiss from time to time. Writing isn’t for the thin-skinned or the faint-hearted. The first book you sell isn’t the beginning of your career and the first bad review you get isn’t the end. It’s not an easy road we’ve chosen to walk. It’s long and full of challenges at every turn. You’re going to have days when you wonder why you bother. Keep going. I promise you, in spite of all the late nights of hard work and hours of networking until your social skills were sore; the first time you hold your work in print it will all be worth it. Just like having a child, you’ll run your fingers along its brand new spine and forget the pain and exhaustion that came with making it. You’ll want to do it all over again. So go ahead. Write another one. I’ll be right there with you.
Born in Southeastern Ohio, Harper L. Jameson has always had an active imagination, first finding her love of books through the works of Stephen King at a young age. Then with her mother’s influence, she found the romantic works of Beatrice Small and Johanna Lindsey and whole new worlds were opened to her. With the encouragement of family and friends, she began to create worlds of her own. Worlds of love and magic, of men and monsters and sometimes, they all intertwine in dark and delightful ways. Come in, she has stories to tell.
For more hints and tips on navigating the Indie world, check out a few of my other posts!