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.