Today's guest post is shared by Kale Lawrence, author of the The Magi Menagerie.
One of the best questions I’m asked by those who love to write is “what do I need to know to do what you’re doing?” Look, I’m a naturally optimistic person but when it comes to being an author, I’m all about making sure my advice rings with realism. Why? I want YOU to succeed! So, with that in mind, here are 10 things I wish every aspiring writer knew about taking their writing to the next level:
1. Creativity will come and go - but it’s reinvigorating it that matters
Creative burnout is real and sometimes, it takes a while to snap back from a long drought. Whether you stop writing because of mental health challenges or just can’t find your passion for writing anymore, it’s important to examine why you wrote in the first place. If writing is the fuel that keeps you moving, it’s time to dive back in. Listening to music and soundtracks help inspire me, as well as experiencing a show or movie that makes me think beyond surface level. Write a
little each and every day to ease yourself back in and don’t put too much focus on how it sounds. The finesse and polish will come with time.
2. The publishing process takes a long time
You’ve finished your WIP and you’re ready to start querying. Before you promise proof copies to your friends and family, remember that the publishing process takes a long time, especially after the onset of the global pandemic. Projects were backed up for months with paper shortages and busy printers, and we’re still feeling the effects of this today. No one (besides Stephenie Meyer,
apparently) can go from a query letter to agent to publisher in the span of a few months. Just landing an agent could take years. After that point, your project is still not guaranteed until a publisher wants to buy it. At that stage, it’ll be another two to three years before you see it in bookstores.
And, while independent authors can skip some of the more traditional publication steps, a great deal of time should still be invested in editing, cover design, and devising a solid marketing plan before launch.
3. Remember to rest
Yes, deadlines are real and sometimes unforgiving, especially as you get closer to your book launch date. But don’t beat yourself up for wanting to take some time off your project just to rest and reset. This is a crucial part of the process, and it’s necessary to make sure you won’t end up in burnout mode again.
4. You HAVE to market yourself and your work
Once your book comes out, readers aren’t just going to magically flock to the store to buy your book unless you’ve already established a decent size audience and pre-publication buzz. Marketing is integral to your ongoing success. It doesn’t matter if you’re traditionally or independently published, marketing is still required on the author’s part. Research your target audience and pinpoint a strategy of how to position your work to them. You’ll thank yourself in the long run.
5. Don’t quit your day job…yet
Say you did land a publishing deal. Awesome! Congrats! But don’t quit your day job just yet. The typical author advance is not enough to sustain yourself for very long unless you’re a popular, best selling author. After your agent gets their cut, authors are left with a chunk of change that will go fairly fast and will most likely be invested in author tours and other forms of marketing and public relations.
6. The publishing industry is complicated
As mentioned above, the publishing industry was hit hard by the onset of the pandemic. Even now, costs of materials continue to go up, so retail prices are rising for physical books.
Also, timing is everything. If you’re getting nowhere with querying, it does not mean your writing is terrible. Don’t give up after getting fifty rejection letters in your inbox. Yes, it’s frustrating, but your project is worth it.
7. Beta readers, editors, and critique partners are a must
Before you publish or send your manuscript to agents, make sure it has been looked over by friends, family, or people in your book club. Let’s face it: after all those rewrites and edits, you really don’t want to read your story for the millionth time. Having outside feedback helps polish your story to the absolute best it can be.
8. Build your team
If you’re an indie published author, you don’t have to go through the publishing journey alone! Look into ways to build an ARC team. Hire a cover designer and editor to make your book the best it can be and look into hiring an author assistant or marketing firm to help launch your book. Sometimes an author just needs a team of people dedicated to helping them succeed. I highly recommend going this route, because it can get overwhelming during the writing process.
9. Even after you’re published, frustration may hold you back
Just because you’re published doesn’t mean everything is going to get easier. In fact, it gets harder. You’ve got to maintain your social media presence while writing new projects and seeking marketing opportunities. Don’t let this hold you back, though. You’ve already mastered the first level. Take it step-by-step, take breaks when you need it, and reach out to other authors to compare notes.
10. Remember you are a writer for a reason
The road to publishing is not necessarily an easy one. But once you’re looking at the physical copy of your work in your hands, on a bookshelf, or on a reader’s Instagram feed, it makes everything worth it. You are a writer for a reason. You were gifted with creativity to share it with the world. Now take a deep breath and take on the world. You were always meant to do impossible things. :)
Thank you Kale for sharing such great advice! Readers, if you'd like to connect with Kale, please do so via the following links: