Three Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Published a Book

If It’s Real, It’s Work

By Rob Brunet

There has never been a time in my life when I didn’t expect to be an author one day. Most authors can say the same. It’s part of what sets us apart from people who “want to write a book one day.” And, no, I’m not about to take a bow.

The satisfaction of completing a manuscript, landing an agent, selling short stories to markets I respected, and eventually seeing my novel in print—all of it meant I’d accomplished a long-held dream. And it made me feel part of a community of peers who are as passionate about writing fiction as I am.

But writing a book didn’t make me an author. At least not how I’d defined it in my dream. Among the things I was unprepared for are the three I’ll detail here: the engagement with other writers, the work I (and others) would expect of me next, and the requirement I treat it as a job.

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Three Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Published A Book

It Gets Easier…But It Doesn’t

By Elizabeth Heiter

Before I sold my first books, I’d been actively involved in writers’ organizations, done case studies of authors similar to me, and even turned down offers I didn’t think were right for the career path I wanted. So I felt prepared when my first book sale came along.

In some ways, I was. I had a plan for a website, social media, and marketing before the books were even purchased. And I had a year and a half before the first book came out to implement it all. I’d spent nine years writing and submitting and learning. When I did finally sell – and accept offers – I was thrilled to have sold five books right away. But only one of those books was written, which meant I immediately had multiple new deadlines. And my learning curve had just started…

Here are three of the things I wish I’d known before I’d sold:

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Three Things: Realistic Writers = Happy Writers

Three Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Published a Book

By Susi Holliday

I started writing seriously in 2011. Short stories first, then various bits and pieces of novels, until I finally settled on the idea that was going to be “the one.” This was to be the book that would get me a six-figure deal, have TV companies crawling over it, and get me all the awards in the business. I was going to be a big sparkly debut, and have my book plastered on billboards in train stations, and my face on the red couch of morning talk shows where the presenters would hang on my every word, desperate to know about the mysterious story from my past that I had chosen to base my first novel on.

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Three Things: Writer Intentions

 

 

So my advice may not be the most practical because a lot of it has already been covered by others more capable than me. If you haven’t already read the other posts on what you should know before writing a book, you need to rectify that now. I know I learned a lot.

My three things are more about your mindset as you set out to write a book, whether it’s your first book or your twentieth. These are statements of intention to keep you grounded and rooted. It may sound like something from a wellness retreat, and yes, I admit, I stole that “grounded and rooted” stuff from my yoga instructor, but I think it applies to how you approach your writing / publishing career.

So here we go:

Don’t second guess yourself. Many times I believe what I’m writing is crap. That I’m a fraud and a hack. Or the editor will send my story back with a note saying, “Sorry, I must have been crazy to ask you to contribute to this anthology and I’m rescinding my invite.”

I’ve seen social media posts that go something like this:

Monday: I suck. Everything I wrote today is garbage.

Tuesday: THIS IS THE BEST THING I’VE EVER WRITTEN.

Wednesday: God, this is terrible. delete, delete, delete

Thursday: submits to editor, nervously waits

One week later: reads thoughtful rejection. YOU MORONS DON’T RECOGNIZE GENIUS WHEN YOU SEE IT!

It’s normal to doubt your ability and wonder if what you’re doing is worth it. But don’t let that take over. Shake it off and keep writing. Some of the writing may be crap, but some of it will be good. Maybe even great. The important thing to remember is that nobody is forcing you to write (and, if they are, then maybe you have more to worry about than second guessing yourself). You write because you want to. Something inside is compelling you. Remember that.

And when someone tells you they loved your book—someone other than your best friend or mother—be gracious and say “thank you.” Enjoy. The. Moment.  I know for me that never gets old.

Try not to compare yourself to others. I know this one is hard. That’s why I say “try not to.” Because it’s inevitable you will. That’s human nature. We spend our whole lives comparing ourselves to our peers. But with writing, everyone’s journey is different. Everyone’s process is different. Most importantly, everyone’s goals and what they want to accomplish with writing are different. Sure, I’ll bet the majority of us want to write full-time and be able to live off what we earn from book sales. Wouldn’t that be nice? But not every writer wants this and that’s okay. Maybe you want to write a few successful books and then move on to the next creative project. 

Which brings up the next question: what do you view as a successful book? A successful writer? Some writers would say that being on the NYT bestseller list proves to them that they have succeeded. Another writer may define success as winning an award or seeing their book in a bookstore. We all measure it differently so celebrate your successes the way you want. And yes, every acceptance, every publication, every time you type “the end,” is a celebration.

Cut yourself some slack. Don’t be hard on yourself. You’re going to make mistakes. Things out of your control are going to happen. Your publisher goes belly up. Your agent decides to retire. Your rights are tied up with a publisher that is no longer viable. You may sign with the wrong agent. You sign a contract without reading the fine print. Okay, that one’s on you.

Just follow your gut and your heart. If you want to say no to a project, that’s okay. If you want to tell your agent it’s not working out, that’s okay too. If you want to switch genres, go for it. And if it doesn’t work out, don’t beat yourself up about it.

You may feel like you’re out there alone, floundering in your writerly head space. You’re not.

Whatever you’re feeling or fearing, another writer has been through it too.

Sarah Chen has worked a variety of odd jobs, from script reader to private investigator assist

ant. She’s published numerous short stories and a children’s chapter book. Her noir novella, CLEANING UP FINN, with All Due Respect Books, was an Anthony finalist and IPPY Award winner. She’s the co-editor of and a contributor to the novels-in-stories THE NIGHT OF THE FLOOD and THE SWAMP KILLERS and is a sometimes contributor to the Los Angeles Review of Books. Visit her at https://sarahmchen.com.

 

 

 

 

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