I just realized it’s been almost 2 months since I started blogging about my independent author journey, and I thought it might be good to take a look back at the lessons I’ve learned so far. I’ve also decided if I do this regularly it will give you a handy cheat sheet on what to do, and not do, as a new author. At least that’s my goal.
For the most part, a writer’s life is a solitary one. We sit at a keyboard or piece of paper and silently put what’s going on inside our heads into words. It’s not exciting to watch, there is no way for someone else to participate. In fact, if anyone were to ask if they could help, we’d kindly ask them to go away.
If you’re a new author it’s best to keep those solitary moments to the actual writing and revising process. At all other times it’s actually a good idea to socialize… or at least try to connect with others. There’s a couple reasons for this:
First, you could get come really great material for your book, or future book.
Second, you’re new… you don’t know what you don’t know yet. mingling with other authors, at different stages of their career, will teach you things that sitting in an English class never will.
My first post gave a great example of a way to both mingle with other writers and still be able to find that valuable alone time we need to write. It’s called National Novel Writing Month and I highly recommend checking it out. NaNoWriMo is an online challenge to write 50,000 words in 30 days. Depending on how fast you write, that may sound impossible or a piece of cake. There’s no entrance fee and no prize money but I guarantee, if you put 100% effort in you’ll gain so much more than you expected.
That’s really the first question you should answer after “Do I want to sell my story?” (I’m assuming you don’t want to use a traditional publisher since the whole point of my blog is to help the Independent Author).
On one end of the spectrum is: Upload it to Amazon Kindle, then sit back and wait. While I’m sure this works for some people, I don’t recommend it for the first time author.
On the other end of the spectrum is: Have it beta’d, hire a professional editor, hire a professional cover designer, create and maintain social media accounts, start and maintain a blog, create a publishing company, obtain an ISBN, market your book, promote your book, give away free copies of your book, request book reviews, send Advanced Reading Copies to bookstores, donate your book to libraries… etc., etc.
Now either end of that spectrum is acceptable. There is no right or wrong way to sell a book. However, there can be a direct correlation between how much effort you put in and how much you get out of it. If you just throw it online and hope for the best, you haven’t invested much into it, but if it doesn’t sell you also have no idea why. I did some reading and decided that, although it’s more difficult, time consuming, and expensive, I’m going to go the complicated route. If you follow this blog you’ll see pretty much every stop along that route.
My post on Feburary 27th mentioned Reedsy. It’s where I found my editor and eventually my cover designer, two people who are very necessary, if you go the complicated route.
March 15th saw the end of a two week string of daily migraines. While I hate migraines I have to admit, being out of commission for that long when I’d just started to enjoy my new job, opened my eyes to a solution. Sometimes you just can’t. Can’t write, can’t revise, can’t network, just can’t open your eyes.
I realized however, looking back over the two weeks I did nothing, I could have done something. There may not be a solution when one of your roadblocks shows up, but take the time to think about it. I found several solutions and posted about them. You might think of others.
I did exactly that, and posted about it March 21st. I was so excited to be “done” with my book, I hired an editor and paid actual money to have her tell me what was wrong with it. Why is that a problem? Betas are free. Betas will also tell you what is wrong with your “finished” book, but they won’t charge you for it.
Lesson learned: First Beta, then Editor.
I’m not a patient person, so I’m sure there’ll be other things I jump the gun on. I’m hoping this mistake will sing out in my mind the next time I get all excited to ____.
March 28th I took a step back and let you all in on one of my writing tips. Most people I have asked agree that having a playlist for your story is a great idea, so maybe it’s not a revolutionary tip… but in my post I included the playlist for my first book “Dust on the Altar”.
I love writing in a coffeehouse and on April 10th I waxed poetic about it. No lessons learned, no mistakes, no tips… I just reminisced about my first trip to a coffeehouse and how much I love going there to write now.
So that’s it. All six of my posts. They haven’t been planned and the topic hopping shows that. I will be planning my next two months of posts in an effort to be more informative than babbling. If there’s something specific you’d like me to write about, leave a comment or tweet me @mwinklerbooks.