In 2009, I decided to become an author, unfortunately, I had no idea what kind of journey I was signing up for. As I threw my hat into the race, publishers were closing left and right due to the Great Recession. Also, Amazon had just started challenging the U.S. publishing industry by creating the Kindle e-reader and their Kindle Direct Publishing company. Now in 2018, the publishing industry has changed so much, today, many authors are choosing to go indie and major publishers are being even more selective about what they acquire. So what would I say to an author just starting out today? Well, I gathered some of the best advice I could and decided to publish it all here. Hopefully, you too will pass it on to the next generation of newbie authors who don’t have a clue about how the publishing thing works.
- Educate yourself on the business and keep up with industry news. ~Rachel Rueben
- “My advice to authors is to EDIT EVERYTHING WELL! If you aren’t confident of your own skills, hire someone. Yes, it gets expensive, but it’s worth it. We all make mistakes, miss things, or simply don’t know the correct way to say something. Research your would-be editor well. I’ve seen professionally edited, big company published, best selling authors, with grammatical errors. Apparently, neither they, nor their editors, knew the correct grammar. Find someone who will do a good job at a fair price. If you can’t afford an editor, then read your manuscript until your eyes bleed and your brain melts.” ~Dellani Oakes
- “Avoid vanity presses they accept your manuscript but they charge you for the privilege of getting published. It’s fine if you have money to throw at the endeavor but you are better off self publishing on Amazon.” ~Karen Vaughan
- “Best advice? Decide how much control you want in the decisions about your new work. A finished story can be like the writer’s baby, so that writer has to decide how they feel about letting it go to another for the “growing up” process. Whether to self-publish with a POD, an ebook indie publisher, or try for the traditional publishing houses, it can be a matter of time and persistence. However, the bigger the publisher, the less control a writer might have on the decisions of cover, marketing, or even the edits. So, a new writer will have to choose whether they want to take the time to submit queries, submissions, and find agents so that they can possibly get more notice (and hopefully money) for their work, but have to let the fine details go to someone else and start working on the next. Or, if they have the tenacity to market themselves, they can have complete control of their baby and self-publish. An indie ebook press can offer a range between these two. Some have their own artists and editors, some let the author have the final say. But, once you have your “baby” fresh from your brain and “on paper” (as most books are files rather than typed manuscripts anymore), you need to decide which path of hard work, long hours, and promotion you want to do. It’s a lot of tedious work either way. As a self-publisher, I like having a say in what my books look like, but I sure would appreciate someone else doing the editing and marketing sometimes. Having a strong network of fellow authors is always good to have as well, no matter how you decide to publish..” ~Ruth Davis Hays
- “Business is business, dead weight is just that, dead weight. If they are not contributing revenue they will drain your resources, cut them loose.” ~ Mike Thrasher – Chief Sales and Marketing Officer – Apex Capital From Amanda Thrasher
- On verbal agreements: “Some states do not honor verbal agreements. Others do. If one of the parties in your contract is from one of those states, then you could be agreeing to something you think you’ve mentioned casually over the phone.This one fact alone is why I do not conduct telephone negotiations with anyone on any project for any reason.
People who want to negotiate with me must do so by letter or, these days, by email. I print those emails and keep them as work product for any agreement that we come up with, or don’t come up with, as the case may be.” ~ Kristine Kathyrn Rusch
- “You can definitely build an author platform and generate good sales from free marketing – but you will pay with your time.” ~ Joanna Penn
- About mistakes he sees authors make on social media: “Shouting, ‘buy my book’, ad nauseam, on Twitter. No one is listening.” ~Mark Dawson
- Whatever you may have heard, self-publishing is not a shortcut to anything. Except maybe insanity. Self-publishing, like every other kind of publishing, is hard work. You don’t wake up one morning good at it. You have to work for that. ~ Zoe Winters
Here are a just a few books worth reading if you want to learn more about self-publishing:
- (APE) Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur by Guy Kawasaki
- Write. Publish. Repeat: The No Luck Required Guide to Self- Publishing Success by Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant and David Wright
- Closing the Deal on Your Own terms by Kristine Kathyrn Rusch
- Self-Publisher’s Legal Handbook, Second Edition, by Helen Sedwick
- How to Market a Book by Joanna Penn (This is book 2, in a series.)
- Let’s Get Visible by David Gaughran
Happy 2018, if you have any advice that you would like to impart to the next generation, please share it in the comments section.