Yeah, kind of in a galaxy far, far away. It sure seems like it!
So a long, long time ago—three years this month, actually—I’d just come off a long-time writing gig for non-fiction, Internet only (okay, mostly) and had started writing my first novel, REDUCED. I had author friends, thanks to the bookstore, and writer friends from way back, and I was up to my eyeballs in the book business.
But now it seems like I’ve always been an author. Make me blink whenever I realize that REDUCED has been out for only two and a half years. Seems a lot longer!
Sure, I made mistakes. I still make some, although honestly, I won’t take the blame for some of them. It’s technology that will occasionally throw me for a loop—as in it’s not working the way it’s supposed to . . . but by and large, I’ve got this.
Blows me away sometimes how new authors think and make decisions; even some experienced authors who should know better, but don’t. I try really hard to be kind and to teach, not lecture. Certainly I don’t make fun of them, although I’ll confess to frequent head-shaking.
Here is the short list of how to be an author:
Don’t pay someone to publish your book. Ever.
Check references and quality before handing over money to editors and cover designers.
You need to know or learn punctuation, spelling, and grammar before you start.
You must have a story, a good story, that will be interesting to a lot of people.
Your book must be as long as it takes to tell that story, but it should also be a book and not a novella or a short story or just something you threw together.
You need to learn a lot of things. It will seem overwhelming. It’s not.
I don’t care who publishes your book, you will have to sell it.
There are a lot of ways to do this.
You have to keep doing them, consistently, forever.
The overwhelming bit was what got to me. I was inundated with blogs, articles, posts, etc., all telling me to do this or that. Fortunately, I’m able to mostly cut through all the bull, and so I found some things quite useful. Others, however, are things that need to be tried and tested, like promo sites. Not everything will work for every book.
Likewise, not everything will work for every author. Read, study, bookmark the good stuff, and go back and look at your leisure. Don’t be afraid to try things.
And don’t think you have to do it all, or even do things a certain way. Just do it.