10 Things I Didn’t Know About Becoming a Published Author
My newly released book, Quintina, is the second book I’ve published. Like many, I dove into publishing headfirst, not entirely sure what I was getting myself into, but driven by my dreams of being published. Along the way, I’ve learned a few things about publishing, not just from my own mistakes, but those of other writers, as well. I want to share those lessons with anyone who may be considering publishing a book.
1. Writing a book and publishing a book are two different things. You can spend hours putting words to paper, but publishing a book requires tenacity. It’s what gets you through hours of editing, formatting, graphic design, and rejection. It requires you to be more than just a writer, because you’re creating a product.
2. Published authors spend as much time learning about formatting and marketing as doing research for their books. Be prepared to learn the technology behind publishing and marketing, or be ready to pay someone else to do it for you. Even if you are picked up by a traditional publisher, you’ll be expected to know social media and other marketing outlets.
3. Editing is a necessity. I don’t mean going through your book a few times looking for errors. I refer to a second party taking a close look at grammar, punctuation, syntax, etc., possibly even fact checking. Too many writers skip editing or have an unqualified friend do the work. As soon as you hit publish, you’re not just putting your writing out there, but establishing a reputation. You want to make a good first impression and a poorly edited book can follow you for years.
4. Editing is expensive. No, really. It’s EXPENSIVE. New writers are often surprised by this, but you get what you pay for and a good editor can really help you to elevate your writing (and help you improve your own skills).
5. The cover is very important. Investing in a professional cover designer can increase your chances of getting a cover that will increase sales of your book, but won’t guarantee it. I paid a professional to do the first cover of Anna, the first book in the Starseed Series, but I wasn’t 100% happy with it. When I redid the cover myself, I sold more books, but I did a lot of research and chose features from popular books in my genre. Do your research and ask the opinions of others before you finalize your cover.
6. Packaged deals may sound like a convenient solution, but they’ll cost you a good deal more. With my first book, I paid a service that handled everything from editing to formatting. I paid about twice as much for editing than I should have. I also got upsold on some services that had little bearing on the success of my book. With the second book, I broke up those services. I took control of what I could confidently handle (the cover and marketing pieces) and outsourced what I wasn’t (editing and formatting). I saved a good deal of money.
7. Book review services are not worth the money spent. With my first book, I paid for a service that advertised my book to a list of reviewers. Those interested could request a copy of my book in exchange for an honest review. I sent out a lot of copies. Only a fraction followed through and some of those clearly stated in their reviews that they don’t usually read my genre and didn’t really enjoy my book (so why did they request it?). I don’t suggest going that route. Take the time to research bloggers and reviewers who read your genre and contact them directly with a request to review your book.
8. Brick and mortar stores will not instantly warm up to you if you’re self-published. There’s a general feeling that independent authors do not sell and stores are constantly struggling to compete with companies like Amazon, so they have to focus on the bestsellers. You’ll need to prove that you have a large enough audience to make stocking your book worthwhile. It helps if you offer to do a book signing or some other promotion to drive traffic to their store.
9. One book will not produce a significant income, because published authors rarely make it big with their first book. So, don’t write a book to get rich. You need to establish an audience first. The sales of one book will fuel the sales of the others. The only exception may be if you already have a large amount of followers on social media, a blog, or an email list. Some bloggers with a strong following see significant success when they publish a book in their niche.
10. Published authors need thick skins. This may seems obvious, but until you start getting reviews, you don’t realize how true this is. Not everyone will like your book…and that’s okay! No one is a perfect writer. Heck, even Amazon will question the validity of your reviews if all you get is 5 stars. Low reviews are expected at times. There’s no need to worry about it unless that’s all you ever get.
If you’re considering publishing a book, I highly suggest that you join a writer’s group. You can learn some invaluable information from the other members, including recommendations for editors and formatters. You can even round up some beta readers. If you’re short on time, it doesn’t need to be a local group. There are some good writing groups on Facebook. Here are some of my favorites:
Looking for something new to read? You can check out my Young Adult series, The Starseed Series on Amazon: