10 Things About Being Published (That I Wish Someone Had Told Me)

There are countless blogs on how to get published, but what happens when you finally land that elusive deal? Today our Prime Writers come clean on what they wish they had known, and offer their tips to any first-time author on the road to publication.

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  1. You are going to need to cultivate plenty of patience. Rachael Lucas (Coming Up Roses) says, ‘You will almost always be waiting for news when you’re published. If you spend all your time hitting refresh and waiting for the email to arrive, you’ll waste a lot of your life. So this morning (whilst waiting for some news) I started work on book five. I’d been putting it off, promising myself that I’d wait until I knew what was happening, but the truth is we never DO know what’s happening! So embracing the wait and finding ways to cope with it are vital skills.’
  1. Get writing the next book. No, honestly. Start it now! Dominic Utton (Martin Harbottle’s Appreciation of Time) says that his little piece of advice is ‘sort of cribbed from Noel Gallagher. He said that you have your whole life to write your first album, but as soon as that’s out, people start asking about the next one. And I’ve found the same with Novel Number Two. Being a published author is amazing, and all I ever really wanted… but once you are a published author there’s a sudden pressure on you to write another book – that’s at least as good as the first. And that’s pretty daunting!’ Claire Fuller (Our Endless Numbered Days) adds some advice that might help: ‘If you don’t have a deadline set by your editor (if they’ve only bought your first book), set your own deadline and try your hardest to get the first draft of your next book finished by the time the first book is published. Then if the first is really successful you won’t be thinking “how on earth am I going to do that again”, or if it is not as successful as you hoped, you won’t think, “why am I bothering?”’ For further evidence of this you might want to check out our recent blog on writing That Difficult Second Novel.
  1. Not all the publicity ideas that your publicist suggests will happen. That’s nothing against the amazing work that many publicists do. It’s just a fact. In the case of Beth Miller (The Good Neighbour) though, none of the ideas transpired into anything particularly concrete. ‘I would have done so much more hustling for the first book myself,’ she says. ‘With the second book I took things into my own hands, did the blog tour myself and gave the publicist a list of people to send review copies too. It felt like me getting involved gave the book more of a buzz. Some writers DO get publicity input from their publishers of course, but realistically, they don’t have the resources to give it to everyone. So I wish I’d known that. Publishers don’t like to tell you, I think, that you’re probably not going to be the one who gets any publicity time or budget, so they perhaps allow you to think that you’re going to get more (some?) than you do.’ So, in short, be prepared to put some leg work in yourself.
  1. Write down everything you discuss at publicity meetings. This comes from Kerry Fisher (The Island Escape), who following on from Beth Miller, advises that you then ‘confirm afterwards in an email to all concerned who will do what, then report back on the progress for the things you are responsible for and politely ask for an update on where everyone else is – otherwise as Beth says, all the shiny exciting things that are promised often just don’t happen. I’d also try and get a sense of when uncorrected proof copies are going to be available – if you want coverage in national monthly magazines, they have lead times of three/four months so proof copies need to be out to reviewers at least four/five months before publication month.’
  1. You can and should ask questions. Katherine Clements (The Silvered Heart) says that you should ‘Ask questions of everyone! Your agent, your editor, your publicity and marketing people and, most importantly, your writer friends who have been there before you. I was so focused on the impossible dream of getting an agent that I didn’t think beyond to what would happen if I did. I knew nothing about the processes involved in the industry and didn’t have a clue about things like how the editing process works, copyediting, page proofs etc. I felt very naive and unsure through that first book. Publishers often assume you know things. Don’t feel stupid for asking. And keep on asking!’
  1. Register your book with PLR and ALCS. Okay, so this might not sound very interesting but it’s an important point says Jason Hewitt (Devastation Road). ‘This is certainly something that your editor or agent will probably forget to tell you so, unless another author you know mentions it or you belong to the Society of Authors (which you really should belong to!) and get a reminder, you probably won’t know. If your book is registered every time someone borrows it from a library you, the author, get about seven pence. Okay, so that’s hardly going to buy you a yacht but it can soon add up and an unexpected BACS transfer into your bank account is better than nothing.’ Deadline for registering is 30 June.
  1. Don’t read one and two star Amazon reviews. EVER. ‘They will knock your confidence as a writer,’ Karin Salvalaggio (Walleye Junction) says, ‘which is the worst possible outcome. They’re clearly not your readers so you will learn nothing of value from what they have to say. It happens. Move on.’ Terry Stiastny (Acts of Omission) adds: ‘True. But if you accidentally have done, the only remedy is to read the one star reviews for bestselling or ‘great’ authors. It reminds you that everyone gets them!’ Sound advice, indeed. 
  1. You are going to need a succinct and witty answer to a few basic questions. The first question that everyone will ask you, says Andrea Bennett (Galina Petrovna’s Three-Legged Dog Story), is “So, what’s your book about?” It might sound easy enough but ‘my first novel was published last year,’ Andrea confesses, ‘and I still haven’t pinned that one down. It’s a terrible question, but a natural one for people to ask, and one that needs a good answer!’ Sarah Jasmon (The Summer of Secrets) adds another inevitable question: “How many have you sold then?” Again it’s good to have an answer to that. ‘My favourite,’ Sarah says, ‘is “It’s not troubling the bestseller list.” Also realise that the people who ask aren’t actually interested in an in-depth analysis of the state of publishing.’
  1. Social media will drain your soul if you let it. ‘I knew that as an author I would need to be on various social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook (publishers expect it),’ says Jason Hewitt, ‘but I had no idea how time consuming it could be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s hugely beneficial in terms of meeting fellow writers, supporting each other and connecting with your readers, but, my God, I wish someone had warned me of how easily it was to get sucked in. Social media is great but not when you’ve got a deadline. It’s the procrastinator’s drug. At the moment I’m writing a first draft and being very strict with myself. No Twitter until 4pm. Otherwise I get sucked in to a worm hole and by the time I’ve found my way out the whole day has gone.’
  1. You need both thick and thin skin. Our final piece of advice comes from Louisa Treger (The Lodger). ‘I wish I’d understood what is perhaps the central paradox of being an author: you must have a thin skin in order to write well and with feeling, yet the hide of a rhinoceros to put yourself out there. I am still working on developing the rhinoceros skin!’ Good luck with that, Louisa!

 

 

 

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5 thoughts on “10 Things About Being Published (That I Wish Someone Had Told Me)

  1. Absolutely brilliant post, thank you.  I’m at the waiting and waiting and waiting stage … waiting for roughs, waiting for editorial notes, waiting for a reply to e-mails I sent in April.  It’s nice to know I’m not alone – I feel so needy, F5ing constantly! Best wishes Jan Newton

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: 10 Things About Being Published (That I Wish Someone Had Told Me) | paulabeavan

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