I’ve been away quite a bit lately. I know. If I had more time, or could clone myself, I would post more. The truth of the matter is I’m hella busy. With life. With deadlines. With creating new material. The list goes on and on.
It’s been about a week since I “finished” my second book. I say “finished” because my agent is reading it as well as a few trusted readers who will provide feedback, and then I’ll go through it a final time before sending it to my publisher.
Which brings me to a few things that have drastically changed since I signed with my agent and publisher. Keep in mind these are only my experiences. No two authors experience the same things.
Hurry up and wait. I think I was a little more prepared for this than other first time authors since I spent a few years in the military. People will want certain things by certain times. After that, you wait. A lot. Then you wait some more. It’s the way things go. If you plan on going the traditional route when it comes to publishing, you better get used to waiting.
A loss of freedom. Before I signed with my agent and publisher, I could write what I wanted, when I wanted. Even though I still have a say in which projects I pursue, I have to discuss things with my agent. I’m in the same boat when it comes to my three book deal. I have to write those books first, whether I want to or not. I’ve been very fortunate because my agent gives me complete freedom when it comes to my short fiction. Whenever I get the itch to write something different, I can take a week and pen a short story.
Play nice. When you sign with a publisher, you’ve got to play nice with the other kids in the sandbox. This will be easier/more difficult for some. I don’t have a problem mingling with other authors, but certain things like joining chat groups don’t really appeal to me. I’m a bit more guarded when it comes to letting other people in than most folks because of my upbringing. I know, I’m an odd creature, but aren’t we all? We all have our quirks. Feeling like you have to do something can make it seem even less appealing.
There are times when the things mentioned above have stymied my creative flow. The trick for me has been finding a way to tune out the outside world and concentrate on the task at hand. I’m an author now. Authors write. It sounds so simple. There have been times when I didn’t want to edit, or write, or be sociable on social media…but I have to. It’s part of my of responsibilities now.
Another part of being an author is prioritizing what you do with your time. It may mean not going to see that big summer blockbuster, or DVRing your favorite show and binge watching a whole season when you can, or not playing that shiny new video game all your friends are enjoying. Reading has also taken a backseat to my writing. These past few months I’ve read one book. I simply didn’t have time. My TBR list has grown and grown.
With that being said, being an author also means reading a review that calls out your story as one a reader loved. It also means gaining new fans, readers who can’t wait to see what you release next. It’s a pretty awesome feeling. And that’s why I write, to give folks a little escape from their everyday lives. Knowing I’ve done that makes everything worth while.
So what can you do now to prepare for the change publication brings?
Create quality fiction. Tell great stories. This, again, sounds so simple. Learn and understand what writing techniques work best for you. Find a few writers with similar interests and form a lasting critique partnership. Having even a few writers you can talk to behind the scenes can provide a great boost on days when you want to take your ball and go home. Nothing beats quality writing.
Be yourself. I’m a firm believer that the writers who will do anything in order to be published will eventually get exposed. Don’t be that person. You know the one who sucks up to anyone they think will further their goals. The know-it-alls. The writers who sign with an agent and suddenly know everything about publishing. We all know a few of those folks. A meaningful career as an author should span a good portion of our lives. The relationships we forge along the way, be it with publishers, editors, fans, or other authors, should also be meaningful. Nobody likes a phony.
Be patient. I know, I’ve covered this before but it’s important. Too often up and coming writers want to sign with an agent, or they want that publishing contract so bad, they tend to want to rush the process. You can’t. It will happen when it happens. Trust that your writing skills will get you where you want to go.
Write, write, write! Don’t be satisfied with having one or two finished projects. Keep writing. Create outlines of all you ideas. Start another book. When you sign with an agent, and/or publisher, they’ll want to know what’s next. It’s better to have at least an idea rather than hope something comes to you on the fly. Oh, and never stop improving!
There you have it. Keep in mind those are only some of my observations, and I’m no expert. I’m sure other authors will have other tips and advice. I’d love to hear more in the comments below. Remember, anyone can give advice. It’s up to the person receiving it to discern what makes sense and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to do what’s best for you. Talk to you next time!