Calling all Authors of the Next Great American Novel

DittoI hate to spring these things on you, but you might want to know that there are some surprises no one warns you about – until now.  Well … okay … there are blogs out there giving you a heads-up about some aspects of becoming a published author, but I have this overwhelming need to toss in my $0.02 worth.  As an aside: ever notice you don’t have the “cent” sign on your keyboard, only the dollar sign … how times have changed.  Well, times have changed for authors too.

  • The Crying Game.  When the proof of my book the Volcano Lady #1 first arrived, I cried.  No kidding – I’m a weepy sentimentalist that way.  I sobbed when the first box of final copies arrived.  By gummy, I had achieved a lifetime’s dream: I was in print.  I’m up to my third novel and admittedly, I still get choked up.  No one can take that from you, nor should you give it away on some pretense that real authors aren’t impressed by this stuff – you better believe we are, regardless of whether you are self published, independently published, or traditionally published.  Always keep a hanky nearby on delivery dates ‘cause that’s YOUR baby.

Now that you’ve got your eBook and/or paperback in hand, some little surprises may sneak up on you (and it doesn’t hurt to know this before publishing too.)

  • The digital age has made self publishing easy.  And that’s cool by me, really.  But what may catch you off guard is how easy is really is.  Too much so.  Sure, my friends are all excited and I have a lovely boyfriend who nags me about making time to write.  Family has been there in spades and brag openly about the author in the family.  BUT … when I mention this to people I meet (and yes, you should, it’s called marketing) I sometimes get a glazed-over expression from them as though they equate “author” with “out of work dreamer – any one of 10,000.”  Get used to it, we in America don’t value our artists the way we should.  Just learn to be the outstanding 1 in 10,000.
  • Anyone can self publish, which is really the problem.  By “anyone,” I mean ANYONE.  The market is flooded with books on every topic.  While I question the veracity of the traditional publishing industry today, there are good things to be said of the work of Agents, Editors, and Purchasing Committees.  The flotsam and jetsam get sorted out of the milieu, and it can be argued that the result is a better quality (though that could be a whole other topic to argue.)  So, don’t be entirely shocked if your announcement of “I am a published author” is answered with “really, so am I.  Wanna’ read my latest eBook?  It’s free!”   Memorize this statement now unless you want your work to be trashed and dismissed as proof that any fool can self publish: MY EDITOR IS MY FRIEND AND PARTNER.  Lather, Rinse, Repeat – often.  Please trust me on this.
  • Since the rise of eBooks and the lingering lack of societal support for art, the combination has been a devaluation of your work.  “What do you mean you want $6.99 for your eBook?  There’s no paper so I shouldn’t have to pay more than $0.99.”  You’re going to hear that.  I hear it constantly.  Prepare your elevator speech reply now.  It should go something like this: “Oh, I agree there’s no paper, but let me tell you what it took to write the book.  First I had XX schooling.  And wow, one of my characters really required me to do some soul searching and growing up; the story demanded in-depth research for months; and let’s not forget giving up my social life/finding time to sit down to carefully design and build the story into something I am very proud of and I think you’ll like.  (Don’t worry about run-on sentences here; the best play is to keep talking so they can’t interrupt you.)  It took years to learn my craft.  Then there’s the editor I had to pay, the cost of formatting, getting an ISBN.  Publishing isn’t cheap.  But I’ve kept my costs down because I’d really like you to read it.”
  • The Trekkie Syndrome.  Okay, you’re in print and guess what: the world now owns your “baby” and feels free to criticize, plagiarize, and appropriate the fruits of your labor.  When you do book signings, especially at fan-based conventions, gird your loins for the influx of unwanted comments, snide remarks, and bad advice on how you can do better.  No one is more picky than a Trekkie (and I am one) which is why I call this little surprise the Trekkie Syndrome.  This is not necessarily a bad thing: you can learn a great deal from the nit-pickers and icky reviewers.  You must, however hard it is, thicken your skin.  Oh, that is much easier to type than to do.  After all, they are attacking your baby.  But, just because it might be harsh or offensive doesn’t mean you can’t put it to use or ignore it with a smile.
  • Which brings me to the last point: Getting your book done is the art: Getting your book sold is the business.  No matter who published your work, in this day and age, you are your own Business Manager, Marketing Specialist, and Publicity Agent.  There’s no getting around that.  This means that you need to be painfully aware that writing and selling are a business.  If you go to an agent, unwilling to change or promote your latest creation, you’re going to go home with the web address of Create Space self publisher in your pocket and nothing more.  Publishers need to know that you are willing to go the distance to help them make money off your book.  If you are self published, then it’s all on you and you can’t be an air-head artist when it comes to selling.

I sure hope this helps!  I intend to help as many as I can to avoid “re-inventing the wheel.”  More to come, I promise, especially on the topic of dealing with the public!

Don’t forget you actually can get a free copy of my latest: go to my post of 2/15/13 and click on the link to download a PDF copy of The Yankee Must Die.

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