I get a great deal of people asking me how I started becoming a writer and what advice I could give them.
I love to help people, so I thought why not write a post about it?
There are a great deal of things that you have to do when starting out your career in writing. Firstly, write the book. There is no point setting anything else up until you feel that you are well underway with your first manuscript and are flowing nicely. When you’re confident you will have a finished product, set up a Facebook account, twitter etc. Social media can be your best friend, but be warned, it can also be your worst enemy (More on that later)
There are a few rules, especially with Facebook when it comes to promoting your work. Firstly, do NOT under ANY circumstances just throw your page onto another author or bloggers page and say “Like my page”. It’s unclassy and it will get you a big fat “No” tick. This also goes for just PM’ing with “Like my page” or ” Can you share me” Bloggers are people, just like authors, and they deserve the same respect. If you would like to introduce yourself into the world of writing, always be professional about it. Introduce yourself, let the blogger/author know you’re new and would love any advice or tips they can provide. Always thank them for their time, and always be courteous. Ask some if there are any promotional services they offer, such as blog tours, release day blitz’s and cover reveals. Don’t pester them, they are busy people. If they have something for you they will get back to you.
Once you’re up and running, and your Facebook page is in full swing, then you need to start getting your name out there. Post teasers, pictures, interact with fans and see if there are any author groups you can join for advice. While you’re doing that, get yourself a great cover artist. Covers are nearly everything and you don’t want yours to be anything less than perfect. You can find pictures for your covers on stock photo websites, there are plenty of them. While you’re at it, find an editor. There are many indie editors now, who do great jobs for good prices. Gone are the days of paying $2000 for a manuscript. Editing is ESSENTIAL. I know some of you are probably saying “But I can’t afford it” if that is the case you need to speak to people, perhaps negotiate some deals. If you can’t do that, you need to wait until you can afford it. A poorly edited manuscript is the biggest cause of bad reviews and it’s not how you want to start your career.
Now that you’ve got your page, your editor and your cover artist underway, you can set up your self publishing accounts. There are numerous platforms for you to use. Kindle Direct Publishing is the way to go in regards to Amazon, it’s easy and it’s quick. For other platforms, such as Barnes and Noble, Kobo and iTunes, you can use a few. There is Smashwords (Though I’m not a huge fan) or Draft 2 Digital (I use these) or depending on your country, you can go directly through the platform.
Now, back to your manuscript. I suggest a good BETA reader. These are hard to find because everyone will claim to be a good Beta. You will live and learn in regards to this, but there are some essential things you should get from your beta reader, but most importantly, you need honesty. They aren’t your friends. They need to be brutually honest. You don’t need someone who will come back with “It was amazing, I loved it” that isn’t beta work, EVERY manuscript has something that needs to be changed. You need someone who will send it back with a thousand red notes that will make you want to cry. Finding a BETA can be hard, so asking advice from blogs or author friends might help. In regards to Beta’s, please remember they ARE NOT editors. So if you have one going through picking editing mistakes, then you need to move them on, unless of course you’ve asked for it. That’s not to say the occasional spelling or grammar note is bad, but that’s not their job, that’s your editors job. A good beta reader should be helping you find plot holes and inconsistencies in your work. They are there to help you make it flow better and be the best it can be. I mean, who else can tell us that John was wearing pants in the scene before and is now wearing shorts without having changed (It happens a lot) or that the sex scene started on the couch and is now on the bed, and you didn’t make note of that? Your betas can be your lifeline, treat them well and work with them closely.
Now that you’re underway, you’ve got your team of beta’s (I only have two), you’ve got your cover artist and editor, and your page is all sparkly and ready to go, you can move on to publishing. It is a scary time, it’s completely normal to feel frightened, but we all had to start somewhere. Do some giveaways when your book is live, send out ARC copies and get the word out. Don’t be afraid to ask for reviews. Even the bad reviews help.
There is a lot of controversy around having a Goodreads account, personally, I don’t have one. The main reason for this is because I believe it to be a readers platform. It is a place they can share their emotions about a book freely. When authors involve themselves, or get defensive, things get ugly FAST. In saying that, it’s a great marketing tool. You can share teasers and information on upcoming books. My only advice is this…if you have a goodreads account, stay away from discussion groups about your book and reviews.
We all get them, and they can be horribly painful. There is nothing worse than hearing “This is the worst book I’ve ever read” but the simple fact is EVERYONE gets bad reviews. My advice is to not read them. I never read bad reviews and my life is happier because of it. I have learned not to go on amazon or goodreads, and just keep to myself. All readers are entitled to their opinions and have the right to express that. It is NEVER your place to go on and comment.
Unless you want to commit author suicide.
Seriously, NEVER EVER comment on a review. Don’t get defensive, hell, don’t even thank a bad reviewer for ‘taking the time to read my work’ NO, NO NO NO NO! Just don’t do it. Readers DO NOT appreciate it and it doesn’t look good on you. Stay away from bad reviews, and keep to yourself.
Now to facebook, AH, facebook.
The place where we can make or break our careers.
In my opinion, there are only a few simple rules when it comes to facebook. They are this…
1 – Don’t get into arguments about a book, another author or a blogger. No one needs your opinion and it only leads to disaster.
2 – Respond to your fans where possible, they love it and it’s the right thing to do. There are days where you will have so many messages, you can’t get through them all, but as long as you try, then you’re good.
3 – Always think about any ‘rants’ you put up. Stop and think about how it might affect your career. Will people take offence? Will it upset or hurt someone? Is it truly necessary? I used to love a good rant, but these days I avoid them. It’s what we have a personal account for.
4 – Do not screenshot! Seriously, don’t do it. It’s a dog act of the lowest kind. Unless of course you need to take them for legal purposes, but aside from that, there is nothing worse then screenshotting something and sharing it around Facebook. Keep the peace!
5 – Remember you are an author, and before anything, you need to be someone that people will remember, not someone they hate. Stay out of drama, it really isn’t worth it.
There are a lot of things your writing career will bring you, and you need to be prepared for that. You will have ups and downs, highs and lows, you will compare, compete and cry when it gets tough. That’s writing. That’s life. You need, more than anything, to have thick skin. People will get upset, people will hate your work, sometimes, people will even hate you. You don’t need to let it affect you, you simply need to close off your computer and walk away. Life continues on.
The last thing I’ll mention is making sure you read other books in your genre. There’s nothing worse than writing an entire novel, pressing publish and having someone say “Oh my god, it’s been done. You’re a copycat.” Of course it’s impossible to read every book in your genre, but stick to the big names. Make sure you read and compare your manuscript, to make sure you’re original. No plot is ever 100% original, chances are it’s been done before in one way or another, but you can make sure you’ve made it different enough that it won’t bother people. I have learned this lesson, and I now make a point of reading all major books in the genre I write. It takes up a little time, sure, but it’s best in the long run.
So, that’s basically it. Of course I could write an entire novel with what I’ve learned as a writer, but that would be too easy. To get better, we must all start from the beginning and learn the way everyone learned.
Here are some highlighted points from this paragraph.
*Write the book, or at least most of it before anything else. You aren’t an author without a manuscript.
*Make sure you have an editor, a cover artist and some good betas.
*Be kind, polite and respectful to those you approach. There’s self promotion, which is fine, and there’s being arrogant, which isn’t.
*Set up social media and start gaining some fans.
Good luck, I’ll write a post soon in regards to pricing. Now there’s another big speel.
As always, see you on the flip side.