Today in the continuing series on What I've Learned on My Writing Journey I have Pamela Cook author of Blakwattle Lake and the upcoming release Essie's Way.
Three Things I’ve Learnt On My Writing Journey -
As a recently published author I’m pretty new to this writing game and for the last eighteen months I’ve been on a huge learning curve so the topic of this blog post is very apt.
Thanks Monique! I sat down and brainstormed the things I’ve learnt on my writing journey and came up with a very long list. Some of these things I’ve learnt over a much longer period of time – I’d been writing for 12 years before being published but I’ve decided to focus on three things I’ve learnt since my debut novel was released last December.
1. Write The First Draft Fast
I spent over five years on one novel, much of which was spent writing sections and revising them over and over rather than moving forward. That novel taught me a huge amount about the craft of writing – description, word choice, sentence structure and the like. But it taught me very little about plot and structure. The two subsequent novels were written very quickly, one as a NaNoWriMo (50,000 words in a month) and the other over three months. In both cases I forced myself to keep going with the story, resisted the urge to re-read or revise and in both cases the story unfolded organically and the structure seemed to come a lot more easily. Both of those novels were accepted for publication.
Stop-start drafting allows your inner critic to whisper insidiously in your ear. You find yourself second-guessing the quality of your writing and the direction of your story. It may even nag you enough to block your writing altogether.
2. Whether Your Book Is Published Or Not Is Largely About The Market and Not Necessarily About The Quality Of Your Writing
I have read some amazing manuscripts – beautifully written, wonderful characterization, interesting plot – a whole variety of stories written by writing buddies. Yet sadly many of them have been rejected by publishers. The reality is that it’s all about the market. Even if a publisher loves a manuscript the bottom line is that it has to be approved by the marketing department. Much depends on popular taste at the time, what other titles the publishing house already has out there and how many copies they think it will be possible to sell. If your book has a strong commercial flavour it may be easier to get it over the line than if it is highly literary. Of course literary works are still sought after but it may take longer to find the right home for such a work. In my own case I just happened to write a novel set in the country which had some romantic elements right around the time the Rural Romance genre was starting to boom. Fortunately for me there was already a market out there for the type of book I’d written which made it that much easier for my manuscript to be picked up. Ultimately you need to write what comes naturally and what you love to write. And now there’s always the option of self publishing if a more traditional deal becomes hard to find.
3. Hard Work and Perseverance Trump Talent
I know some will disagree with this belief but after my own experience, and observing the writing journeys of many others I’m sticking by it. Of course there are some writers out there who are born with a natural flair. All they have to do is put pen to paper and the words flow. But that doesn’t guarantee publication. If having your book published is your ultimate goal you need to write, rewrite and then write some more. This will take hours, days and years of your life and you need to be prepared to devote a great deal of time to your writing. Discipline, time management and the ability to say no are all essential requirements if you are aiming for publication. Even the most gifted writers need to put in the hours.
Those of us who are lesser mortals may have to work a little harder at perfecting our craft but it is the writers who keep at it, who take rejection in their stride and learn from it, and who are determined to find readers – whether through traditional or indie channels – who will be the most successful.
There’s quite a few other things I’ve learned – and continue to learn – on my writing journey. I’ll be blogging about them in the future. But for now, happy writing, and keep at it.
Pamela's books are published by Hachette Australia:
You can find Pam on her website:
1. What was the inspiration for your novel?
I took some “family-time-out” last year and went to Hobart for the weekend. I love Tasmania and just looking at pics starts a wave a wonderful ideas. So when I walked through the streets of Hobart, I wondered how it would be to live in this city, and bit by bit I had the story of two sisters moving there from Sydney.
Obviously I had to add a little romance into the story as well – this is where the lawyer and the neighbour from across the road come
2. When did you take up writing?
Late! It was only a few years back that I started putting ideas onto paper, and even my first book was only meant for family and friends. It took off, though, and fast forward four years, and I’ve just published my 4th book, the sequel to New Beginnings coming out soon, as well.
3. How important is setting/place in your writing?
Very important. Most of my books are set in Tasmania or Ireland. I love both places. My 3rd book is set in Melbourne and I really had trouble to set the mood for the story. It took me a long time to finish it. Nothing against the exciting city of Melbourne! Not at all. It’s vibrant, interesting, ever-changing … cosmopolitan indeed, but it wasn’t right for “Innocent Tears”. I’m currently writing a trilogy of sports-romances, set in Victoria’s capital, and find that every third page my characters are traveling to the coast … it’s like a magnet.
4. Do you have a favourite character (s) in your current novel?
Little Mia is my favourite character. She’s about eight years old, lost her mother a few years earlier and her sister Sophie is now her guardian. But even at her tender age she takes everything in her stride … with wit and cheekiness! Aww … and Zach, the hunk from across the road. “More Beginnings” tells his story and I’m quite excited about the upcoming release.
5. What’s the best piece of writing advice you were ever given?
Ohhhh … NEVER, EVER GIVE UP! Nuff said.
6. Do you have a schedule for writing?
I wish I could have something like a schedule. Unfortunately I write when I have time … and when I feel like it. I did the 50ks in 30 days RWAus sprint event. It was great and I got heaps written. But I get easily distracted … *sighs*
7. Are you a plotter or someone who tends to wing it?
I just write and let my fingers guide me. A few of my stories have evolved though from a weekly prompt-writing I do with a group of author-friends. Check it out it’s called Tuesday Tales. The prompts (or picture) change every week. It’s a challenge, but I love it!
8. Can you name three of four of your current favourite books?
My favourite book is without a doubt “If you could see me now” by Cecelia Ahern. I love the current “Lucky Harbor” series by Jill Shalvis. A must read!! Apart from that, some of my treasures on the bookshelf are 84 Charing Cross Road,
Effie Briest & Dream a little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips.
9. Can you tell me a little bit about what you are working on now?
Oh …. Too much to write in too little time. I’ve just contracted the sequel for New Beginnings “More Beginnings” and have started the 3rd book “Fresh Beginnings” which tells the story of Mark’s friend Jared.
Through Tuesday Tales I have started another trilogy including Melbourne sports stars – a football player, baseball and soccer player. I love writing these stories ….the bad boys, naughty language and arrogant attitudes.
10. What advice would you give to a fledgling writer to assist them on their journey?
Oh wow, I myself am still a novice author, but I’d give the same advice I’ve been given: NEVER, EVER GIVE UP. Make author friends and don’t feel afraid to ask lots of questions.
New Beginnings, Iris Blobel
To believe in new
beginnings is to trust in tomorrow
Astraea Press: http://astraeapress.com/#!/~/product/category=662245&id=27261175
Iris Blobel was born and raised in Germany and only immigrated to Australia in the late 1990s. Having had
the travel bug most of her life, Iris spent quite some time living in Scotland, London as well as Canada where she actually had met her future husband. Her love for putting her stories onto paper has only recently emerged, but now her laptop is a constant companion. Iris resides west of Melbourne with her husband and her beautiful two daughters as well as her two dogs. Next to her job at a private school she also presents a German Program at the local Community Radio.
Sophie stared at the attorney, waiting for some answers. She and her sister, Mia, had been quietly sitting
in Mr. O’Connor’s office for more than half an hour, and had learnt about the details of their inheritance.
"Clara Catherine Bellinger."
"Who is she?" Mia asked.
Startled by the subtle sound of the clock chiming across the road, Sophie’s gaze turned to the window, where she saw the post office building across the road. It looked impressive and old. Surely, an old place like this would have its own ghosts — after all, Hobart was renowned for its lively spirits.
Her younger sister’s gentle touch on her arm reminded her she hadn’t answered the question, yet.
"I wouldn’t have a clue." Sophie shrugged and focused her attention back on Mr. O’Connor. Although hearing his words, she still found it hard to comprehend. Here she was in this old office, furnished with heavy antique oak furniture, the curtains in a pretty shade of aubergine, and the carpet beneath her shoes thick and warm in a matching shade.
"I believe she was a distant relative of yours. I’m afraid I don’t have any further details," he replied.
Sophie arched an eyebrow in disbelief.
Was he serious? What kind of lawyer was he? Sure, Tasmania was at the very end of Australia, but wouldn’t they have the same education? With a slight shrug of her shoulder, she asked, "Why not?"
He stared at her. "Pardon me?"
Sitting up straight, she repeated, "Why not? Why aren’t there any further details?"
He looked uneasy, but she didn’t care. She needed to know. Sophie had received a call from the lawyer a week earlier, and he’d told her about an inheritance. He’d given her details on where to pick up tickets to Hobart. Some legality, he had said. She needed to come in and sign documents for the transfer of ownership.
"Ms. Bellinger was one of the partner’s clients. I was only given the details shortly after the client’s death."
Sophie drew in her lips. Her eyes darted over to the window as she took a few deep breaths, inwardly calming herself. Nothing had ever been easy in her life. "Why isn’t the partner here?"
He took a deep breath.
As she pondered on that for a moment, she began to think about what life could be like with this inheritance.
Different. Better. Another sigh escaped as she returned her gaze to the man behind the desk.
"You can’t just leave your assets to just anybody, can you?"
"Levesque," she helped him.
Their eyes met.
"Are you refusing the bequest?" he asked hesitantly, and she clearly noticed how one of his eyebrows arched upward.
Staring blankly with her mouth open, she could feel the panic running through her veins with every thump of her erratic
heartbeat. An uncomfortable silence fell over them for a moment. Then she quickly said, "No. No, of course not. We’re accepting." She turned to look at her younger sister. "We’re actually looking forward to seeing it."
And with one swift movement, he stood and went to a little cupboard near the window and retrieved a bunch of keys. "Would you like me to take you there?"
Still feeling that rush within her, Sophie took Mia’s hand and inclined her head in answer. "Is it far?"
Her voice sounded tired. Even to herself. It had been a long day already. She stood and thinking how tired she was, Sophie placed her arm around Mia, who was probably exhausted.
"No, not at all. Five to ten minute drive, I’d say."
"I still don’t understand. Why us?" Sophie asked quietly, meeting his gaze and, for the first time, actually taking in his
icy-blue eyes. He was very attractive. Too attractive for a boring lawyer. His face was tanned by wind and sun, and there always seemed to be a hint of a smile on his face. His blond curling hair was cut short. Her gaze fixed back on
his mouth. Blushing, she quickly looked away.
The attorney turned to them. He scratched the back of his head. "Ma’am, what I know is that both of you are in the will. What I know is that I was supposed to fly you down here to officially read you the will. What I know is that I’m supposed to hand over the keys to you, and to let you know that your expenses are covered for the next twenty-four months. I did not know Ms. Bellinger, as one of the retired partners wrote up the will. I do not know who she was or in which way she was connected to you. I assumed she was a distant relative."
Sophie took her sister’s hand as she thought about his last comment. Distant relative? Her mother would have at least mentioned her once. She sighed and tried to understand, not the circumstances that had brought her there, but the fact that the attorney just didn’t know. "Oh well, let’s go then."
He pinched his nose with his thumb and index finger and took a deep breath. "Okay. Look, Miss Lever—"
"Levesque," Sophie helped him again. This time somewhat more firmly.
Running his thumb over his eyebrow, he stepped closer, but not so close as to be intimidating. "I’m sorry. It’s been one extraordinary week," he said with his voice just above a whisper. "Once I get back I’ll check with the partners here to see whether anybody knows more about it."
One extraordinary week? His remark irked her. In fact it was downright annoying. Holding Mia even closer to her side, she lifted her finger and pointed at him. "No offence, Mr. O’Connor, but it has been quite a week for us as well, and I was prepared to answer all your questions. I have one simple question, and you don’t know. Wouldn’t there be something
in the file?"
Sophie was a kind person. Kindness was her middle name, but she wouldn’t have got that far in life if she hadn’t watched some of those nasty actresses on television and copied them. And the stare. Sophie met his surprised frown dead-on.
He frowned and seemed taken aback by her words. "No offence taken." And then he let out a deep breath. "You’re right. I apologise. As I said, I’ll find out details and let you know."
"Thank you, Mr. O’Connor," she replied as she blew out a breath.
"What about our stuff?" Mia whispered to Sophie.
Sophie moved her head to look down at her sister, but before she had a chance to say anything, he beat her to it.
"What stuff?" he asked as he opened the door.
"Considering what we inherited here, we brought all our things," Sophie explained without looking at him.
The attorney stopped in his tracks. "All, as in all your clothes?"
Sophie’s eyes met his. She emitted a small sigh, but tried to keep her composure. It was something she had learnt over the last few years. Standing straight, she corrected him. "All, as in all our belongings."
They stepped outside the building and followed Mr. O’Connor with their suitcases. Two teenage boys walked past them, eager to get the attention of some girls across the road. Aware of the attention, the girls covered their mouths with their
hands and broke into giggles. Sophie’s stomach churned. So many things she had missed out on in life. But it was going to be better from now on, she reminded herself, and straightened up as she followed Mr. O’Connor.
Happy Monday all. it's a gloriously sunny day in Sydney. I started my day writing which is always a lovely thing.
I was listening to the radio yesterday as I drove along and it got me thinking about Musical Monday for this week and what the theme would be.
Then I heard a song that had my mind wandering to when love is redemptive.
I hope somewhere the knowledge that you can't change someone by loving them has filtered through to the women of the world - I'm sure Dolly, Cleo, Cosmo and Redbook have all done more than enough articles on the topic to last a lifetime.
That's not what I'm talking about. I'm talking about when someone decides for themselves that they need to change or they will lose the girl or guy of their dreams.
One is "If I love him enough maybe he will give up heroin/drag-racing/karaoke."
The other is. "This heroin/drag-racing/karaoke is killing me and that lady is going to leave me because I'm ruining both our lives...time to stop. Maybe when I stop she'll reconsider me."
So here are a couple of songs to get you pondering that theme as well.
First up we have this one from M People - I just adore this woman's voice.
Hoobastank's The Reason...this is a great one on the topic. Let the lyrics speak for themselves.
Today I'm going to provide you with some chat and then some links to places I've been mentioned in cyber space this week or places I think might interest you.
As you know I was at the Romance Writers of Australia conference on the weekend. One attends a conference like that for a variety of reasons including professional development, the opportunity to pitch to agents and publishers and as well as networking with other authors.
I did pitch on the weekend so I need to get busy preparing my submission while busily prepare to launch my next indie title.
It is a wonderful opportunity to meet people who want to talk about writing and books. (What could be better?) It's also a chance to put faces to the many writers you meet on twitter, Facebook and via blogs.
Now I'm home it's time to link up. I need to e-mail people, find their Facebook author pages and follow them on twitter, before I do what I did last year and misplace all those lovely business cards I've collected.
Speaking of linking up here are a few links where I've been mentioned around the web this week.
The lovely Cindy Roesel wrote this lovely piece about Mr Right and Other Mongrels on her blog today.
My friend Pamela Cook who I travelled to the RWA with did a great blog post yesterday about our travels.
And I understand my novel Hearts Afire has been nominated at Indie Author News for favourite indie book for September here. If you liked it and would like to vote for it this is the link.
I’ve recently returned from the Romance Writers of Australia Conference in Perth. Even though I’m Australian Perth still is a long-haul. (Did you know it was the most isolated city in the world? Probably not.)
And do you know what is more isolating than being in Perth?
The answer is -being a chick lit author at a romance conference where ‘everyone’ says chick lit is dead, especially when you don’t believe it is.
Especially when you must answer the women at the conference, not the publishers or the powers that be, but other authors when they ask you what you write.
“I write chick lit but that you can’t call it chick lit that you have to call it women’s fiction,” said I.
And they said “Why?”
And I said. “Apparently no one reads it anymore. I was told that last year and the year before too.”
And to a one they say “But I love chick lit.”
It’s a conundrum to be in a room where you’re being told what you write is out of fashion and yet you’re surrounded by people who say they like it. It’s harder still when you love it yourself.
Chick lit was like the French onion dip of the conference. It’s not very trendy, you won’t see it on a menu anywhere because it’s been pushed aside by hummus and guacamole and even beetroot dip but still there’s barely a woman who when left alone with some French onions dip and crackers won’t take a bite. Not only that she’ll have another dip. She may even find herself embarrassed by the fact that she ate the whole bowl and loved it.
She may even find herself grabbing a small tub at the supermarket next time she’s there because she forgot how much she really enjoyed it and how much she had missed it.
Now she may not serve it up on Saturday night (or in the case of the book, recommend her whole book club reads it) but she will enjoy it.
I think that’s chick lit right now. It’s not widely available or celebrated but people do like it. It’s not trendy but people still read it.
You know why that is? To my mind at least, it is because chick lit books are about women trying to find themselves in this crazy world with the help (or hindrance) of friends their friends, family, co-workers and lovers.
That’s also the story of every woman who was at the Romance Writers of Australia Conference. They were an amazing, wonderful, vibrant group of women who were busy making new friends, building careers while trying to balance family and work. They were trying to find their way, where they fit in and how they could move forward on their journey.
I didn’t hear anyone talking about their own boyfriends or lovers or needing men to complete them. They were talking about their jobs, balancing that with their families and trying to become their full and happy selves (or happier because there were some gloriously happy people in that room).
That’s why I believe chick lit (and French onion dip) can both survive because we enjoy them and they are a part of our own stories, even if we may not always admit it.
(If you would like to come over for a Jatz cracker, some French onion dip and to boorow a book, do let me know!)
The latest in the series "what I've Learned on my writing Journey" today features Louise Wise.
Begin at the End By Louise Wise
I couldn’t get a more different story line for my two contemporary romances. The premise is the same (as with all romance) man meets woman, or vice versa, there’s an internal denial of love and something, or someone, is stopping them from revealing their feelings. They overcome that, fall in love and live happy ever after—or not, depending on the authors you read.
Personally, I like a story where I know there is an expected happy ending. A sad ending isn’t a conclusion, it’s a cliff-hanger in my opinion, and they leave me unsatisfied.
And what I’ve learned on my writing journey is that endings HAVE to be thought of BEFORE you start writing whether they are a happy or a sad finish. To write ‘by the seat of your pants’ is fine but you HAVE to know where you’re going or else your writing will be never-ending (like a soap opera). Even a gloomy ending means you have to tie everything together.
So, when I have an idea for a story, like most writers, I mull it over in my head to get a feel of the characters. Then I ask myself how I want the story to be resolved. Then I write the ending FIRST.
It isn’t proper prose, more like notes, and of course it can be changed to suit the characters, storyline or both. But at least I have an idea that the book has an ending. It gives me guidance and something to aim for.
The Fall of the Misanthrope:
I bitch, therefore I am
“They say I’m ‘as hard as my acrylic nails’ but what they don’t understand is I have to be. It’s called self-preservation.” – Valerie Anthrope
What happens when Cinderella is brought screaming into the 21st century,
where the ugly sisters are Valerie’s thoughts and emotions, and the fairy
godmother is a middle-aged busybody from hell.
The fairy godmother bursts into Valerie’s life with her magic wand (AKA interference) and insists that she
can help Valerie—whether Valerie asks for help or not. And she most definitely
Then there is playboy Lex. The flirty Prince Charming whose “bed ‘em and leave ‘em” motto applies to ALL
women—until Valerie fails to fall at his feet as he expects.
A concoction of fun, tears and cocktails.
A Proper Charlie
What’s a girl to do when she discovers her boss is a wanted man?
Turn herself into a honey trap, that’s what.
All Charlie Wallis wanted was a career and a man. Not just any man, but a man to
love and cherish her; someone she can confide in, share jokes and toothbrushes.
A life partner, not a husband – she’s modern – and a couple of babies like the
other girls in her council block. And maybe a fast-paced career like those power-suited women racing around with spouted paper cups of latte in one hand and a briefcase in the other. It wasn’t much to ask, was it?
Poor Charlie, she should’ve stayed home.
Married, with four children, Louise Wise lives in England. She is a pharmacist technician by day and a writer by night. She was educated in an ordinary state school and left without achieving much in the way of qualifications; you could say she was the result of a crap state-funded school. Hungry for knowledge she enrolled in an Adult Education centre and
studied English, maths and creative writing. Whereas other young girls asked for makeup and clothes for their birthdays, she asked for encyclopaedias!
Louise Wise used her general love of romantic fiction and interest in astronomy to write and publish her first book, Eden. It was an experimental novel and was never meant to see the light of day! She had received many rejections, which stated that the novel was just too original for the current market. An agent took it on but failed to find a publisher for it, this urged Louise into believing in herself as a writer. Since then she believes she has found her niche with romantic
Her books include: Eden, A Proper Charlie and non-fiction So You Want an Author Platform? And newly released, The
Fall of the Misanthrope: I bitch, therefore I am.
Junkies Library of indie books - http://pinterest.com/bookjunkies/
Today it's a sunny Saturday in Sydney.
This time next week I'll be at the RWA Conference in Perth. I'm so looking forward to it. I'm helping with the newbies a couple of times so you may see me wandering about in a Pirate's hat. If you do, come and say hello.
One think people can do at Conference is pitch to a publisher or agent so I thought I'd bump this blog post from last year that explains the pitch process.
I think I'm about ready for conference...I have my fabulous new postcards. I almost have my outfits planned. I'm going with my writing buddy the wonderful Pamela Cook so it's going to be a whole lot of fun. it's Pam's first conference and my fifth I do believe.
I'm looking forward to catching up with some lovely authors I've met at previous conferences and also online.
There are lots of great workshops - let's see if I can finally master Scrivener. Fingers crossed.
Meanwhile I'm just plugging away on Building Attraction which will be out soon. Have a great Saturday (I have to take my daughter to netball and then we have her birthday party - what fun!)
Here is the second post in my series - what I've learned on my writing journey by Deb Nam-Krane
What I’ve Learned
I published my book a little less than six months ago. As far as crafting a story,
I don’t think I’ve learned anything that you haven’t already heard: Keep
reading, keep writing and keep editing. I’ll add that it doesn’t matter whether
you’re going to publish it or not what the genre is- or even if it’s fiction- as
long as you keep up your job as a storyteller.
Nothing new there. It’s the business side- just maybe- where I might have learned something.
I made the decision when I launched to make my book available exclusively through Amazon via their KDP Select program. While I liked the idea of making my book available on multiple platforms, a number of authors I respected talked about the exposure they were able to get via KDP Select. I was also hearing from many that getting the formatting right for Smashwords (the preferred program for non-Amazon booksellers) was a frustrating experience. Most importantly, getting Amazon to match the other platforms’ price didn’t seem to be a predictable process either. That last was very important for me as I wanted to reward some very supportive friends and family (aka my first newsletter subscribers) with the opportunity to download my book for free. With that in mind, I enrolled in KDP Select, in large part to take advantage of the five free days I could offer.
Mind you, I wouldn’t characterize it as a failure. Over 90 days, courtesy of KDP Select, over 7000 people downloaded my book. Great! Now here’s hoping some of them will read it, a number of those will review it, and- god willing- some of
them will like it. With just one book out, I’m about where I expected I’d be in numbers, and I’m not expecting a big uptick in sales or ranking until I have more titles out. (That’s just simple Search Engine Optimization!)
But maybe I could be doing better. The chatter I’m hearing from other authors is that free promotions are not nearly as productive for authors as they used to be. In part this is because the KDP Select program is so much more popular (and
they’ve changed some of their rules), in part this is because as the ebook (and ereader) market matures, we’re seeing a little more supply and a little less demand. Mind you, there’s still room for growth, but the ease some indies might
have had a few years ago making sales isn’t there now for their “newer” peers. Also, as attractive as Amazon has made their e-readers, not everyone owns a Kindle. In other words, when my KDP Select period runs out (yes, I re-enrolled),
I’m uploading to the other formats as well.
Let me stress: I am NOT expecting to see a huge difference, and for all I know I’ll have even fewer sales because I can’t stoke the Amazon engine as well as I can now. Maybe, but it’s worth a shot.
So what have I learned? Keep trying new things.
Deborah Nam-Krane has been writing in one way or another since she was eight years old (and telling stories well before that). The Smartest Girl in the Room, the first book in her series The New Pioneers, was published in late March. Her sequel The Family You Choose will be coming out any day now.
Does the setting of a book affect whether or not you choose to read it?
If you read a book set somewhere you know do you prefer that? Or what about if it's somewhere you know but in the book you're reading it looks unrecognisable. "Hey that's not my town, that's not right!"
Here are a few thoughts of my own on setting.
Sometimes all you need to do is change the name to protect the innocent. In my second book Hearts Afire the island I describe is a real island in Queensland but I changed it's name so I could take some creative license. Likewise the characters live in Stanton - no such place exists in Sydney's inner-west, at least not by that name.
If you want to use a real setting my best advice is to make it real. get the facts right and no one will complain, get it wrong and well, you'll certainly hear about it.
So do you like books set in real places or do you prefer created towns, cities and villages?
This month I'm running a series where authors will be doing guest posts on what they've learned on their writing journey so far...so I thought I had better go first.
1. First write a book and enjoy the process
When you start out to write a book that's your goal. Write that book. Finish that book. Get that book re-written and get it ready for it's journey to publication. Honestly that's the best bit, and the worst bit. I love writing a new book, I don't lovely the editing and rewriting process at all. Still, it's part of the process so if you can learn to enjoy the process I think you're going to have a better journey.
The reality is when you begin you are so focussed on finishing that first book you really aren't thinking you'll probably have to turn around and do it all again, but most people do.
2. Branding is important
It doesn't matter whether you end up being an indie author or if you go the traditional route you need to understand branding. If you go to pitch at a conference you will need to know your brand. Do you write light-hearted women's fiction, do you write erotica, books about angels? You need to know and you need to be able to explain it concisely. I know we all want to be unique and don't want to be hampered by definitions but knowing what you write and who you are like and who your readers are is important for marketing and publishing whichever path you take.
3. You are your brand - especially on the internet
I put my three book covers up the top of this piece so you can see how I've really worked hard to create a uniform picture of who I am and what I write. Those covers don't lead you to believe you will be reading anything gritty or anything that might keep you awake at night. That's not who I am or what I write.
Similarly, because I write light-hearted women's fiction my blog posts, Facebook page and twitter feed reflect that. My political opinion, my religious beliefs and the things I have a bee in my bonnet about have no place in my author brand.
Know you're brand. If you write crime fiction probably posts about unicorns are not what you need. These days I think branding is as much about knowing what to leave out as what to include.
Also try to think about what makes you different within the space you write in and make that your point of difference.
4. In the indie space (at least) one book is not enough.
I wish I had better understood this better when I published Mr Right and Other Mongrels. I probably would have held off publication until my second book was ready. I would have had the first four covers ready to go before I began and I would have released my books more closely together.
One book easily gets lost in the indie space and because the e-books are cheap readers often go straight to see what else you have on offer. If you have nothing they move on and often never make it back. It helps if you give them more than one offering.
5. You will be amazed by who will support you - and by who won't.
When you release a book it is the most exciting thing ever. It's also terrifying. You've spent years writing it and now it's out there and people start sharing their opinions good and bad about your efforts.
You will be blown away by people you hardly know who are excited for you. Amazing, gorgeous people will go out of their way to buy your book, tell their friends and promote your work. You'll find authors and book reviewers who are eager to help spread the word.
You will also be amazed by the friends who never download or buy your book(s) and certainly never read them. You won't understand it, it will probably hurt your feelings at first and then, if you're smart, you'll let it go. They don't get it or they don't get you but you haven't got time to them. You have plenty of people who have encouraged you and
6. There is no one "one way".
There are many paths to both success and failure, you must find your own. Some people get a publishing deal and go global. Some people get a deal and never make back their advance. Some indie authors sell hundreds of books a day and some never sell a hundred books.
You'll advice. In the end you have to use your own best judgement.
I am a writer of light-hearted contemporary women's fiction.
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