So, I’m quickly closing in on my first ever publication date. (That’s crazy!) I started my first novel on December 9th, 2012 and finished it January 21st, 2013. It would have been sooner, but I am notoriously procrastinate-y. And easily distracted. And sidetracked.
Either way, there have been some rude awakenings and not so rude awakenings on my journey to self publication. I’m going to share some here, so maybe you lot can avoid them in the future.
6 Things I’ve Learned as a Newbie Writer
1. It didn’t take as long as I thought it would – Granted I took a little while to eck out my overall plot and stuff, the actual process of writing 70k words only took a little under two months. It would have been faster had I not piddled away my time on other stuff. Before I started this whole thing (the decision to write a book at all), I was under the impression it took years to write a novel. Years! Apparently, with some application, it can be done in months. In some cases, even weeks. However, it should be noted I (basically) had a month off because work was slow, and the semester was over. But still. If you’re thinking about writing a novel, just know you can do it in a timely manner with some application and dedication. It doesn’t have to take years. It doesn’t even have to take months.
2. Turn off the freakin’ internet – I can’t stress enough how easy it is to get distracted. If you’re serious about this writing thing and want to get this thing done in a timely manner, turn everything off. For seriously. Even your people. Send your hubby/wifey away with something entertaining, shut off the wifi/internet, turn your phone off, everything. If it’s there, you’re gonna use it. I simple thought like, “Oh, let me just check my author page likes, just out of curiosity” ends up as “I really should buy a new washer. I wonder what deals home depot has. *opens new tab*” NO! BAD WRITER! STOP IT!
3. Music is invaluable – I think I’ve mentioned this somewhere before, but I’ll re-iterate. Music is awesome, and you should use it to write. Picture your scene like a scene in a movie. What would play in the background? Orchestral tension scary music? Some kind kick-ass rock anthem while your MC beats up the villain? Something sultry for that love scene? It totally works. I swear to jeebus. (This point is invalid if you’re the kind of writer that requires silence. Which is fine too. Silence is golden.)
4. You need other people – Don’t write your novel by yourself. I’m not saying you need someone to read every single word of your first draft, but at one point or another, you’ll need somebody. Make connections early on, especially with other writers. Engage in social media and forums. There are a ton of people who’ve done this before you, and they often have incredibly helpful things to say about whatever you’re doing. You’ll need to ask for feedback sometime before publication date anyway, so it helps if you already know some people. Plus, it’s just fun to make friends. Everybody likes making friends. :D I wrote my first novel along side my best friend Maegan, who was writing her novel at the same time. It’s pretty nifty to be able to pick someone’s writerly-type brain as you go along, but be sure you don’t let it distract you. (Thats happened.. >_> )
5. You’ll probably get the writer blahs. This is normal. There WILL be days when you want to quit. Don’t. There will be days when you want to scrap your entire plot and start over. Don’t. There will be days when you wont want to write at all. Write anyway. Some might say, on this last part, if you write during your writer-blahs, your quality will suffer. Yeah, probably, but it’s also likely you’ll discover what you
don’t like about whatever part your writing. You may not be able to write the bad part into a good part, but you can make a note of it and come back during edits with a fresh brain. Speaking of edits, you’ll probably wanna quit during those too. You’ve been staring at this folder of chapters for 84578449435 days, and your brain is starting to melt out of your ears. That’s okay. Take a break for a little while, but don’t quit altogether. Push past the blahs.
6. (This is the big one) Writing a book costs money. – The old saying, “It costs money to make money” is unfortunately true. A decent cover costs money. Some forms of advertising costs money. Software to help you along the way costs money. Copy editors (sometimes) cost money. If you don’t want to do it yourself, formatters cost money. Beta readers (sometimes) cost money. Unless you have 8569454 friends in various fields that will do it for you for free, you’re probably gonna spend some money on something related to your book along the way. I spent $180 on my covers (ebook and print). I probably spent $50 or so on various how-to books for formatting and marketing. I probably spent more on various other things. I’m debating spending $75 to have someone format this bitch for me. You can spend money to have a smoother ride to publication date, or you can buckle up and take the bumpies for free. I can tell you already that this formatting this is a bitch. I’m starting to think that if I can just power through this first one and get everything right via trial and error, then the next ones’ll be easy and I’ll have taught myself a valuable skill, but… still. In most cases, you’ll spend money on something. Especially if you plan to make this a career. Hopefully it’ll start paying off when the sales come in, but one can only hope.
I just had one of those panicky, “omg, how am I going to promote this thing once it’s done” moments. Edits are coming along faster than I thought they would, and I think I’m going to be finished in just about two weeks. (Maybe sooner). Which means I STILL need to nail down formatting for the print AND ebook version, WITHOUT having microsoft word. Which is a huge pain in the ass, because I don’t have an extra $140 to buy it, and Open Office only does so much.
So that’s mildly annoying. I hope I’m smart enough to figure it all out. =\
And then we’re back to the whole “omg how do I promote this crap” after it’s out. I’d like to do a blog tour, but those are often paid for and I don’t have enough money right now to PAY for one, so I guess I’ll have to whore myself out and see what comes of it.
Can you really do anything but seek out reviews/interviews/post to your page/blog/twitter every day? I feel like there’s something big I’m missing. Obviously, like with any writer, you wanna get the absolute maximum exposure you can get, but as I’ve never done this before, I’m 98% clueless about most of this stuff.
I have this sneaking suspicion that I’m going to get a handful of sales when it comes out (you know, pity sales from fam and friends mostly), and then it’ll abruptly halt, lol. I’m thinking I’m going to enroll in KDP select and try to strategically use my free days to boost rank or something. But then, of course, that helps a lot when you have some people spouting “hey, this book is free today!” for you. Hmm.
I thought about a giveaway, but I don’t think anyone wants stuff from my book yet, ha. I can make a poster of the book cover, and sign it, and have some printed copies signed, but I’m not 100% sure anyone would want it from an unknown. Apparently I can also make an iPhone case with my cover on it (which is totally cool), but again, it’d be a waste if 4 people signed up for the giveaway, lol. Maybe after a few more books and a few hundred more FB page likes, or something.
Does anybody have some step by step advice for this? Maybe a site, or a list of stuff I can do?
Ah well. I’ll figure it out. @_@
When did that happen? I’m just about at 20k of my 80k goal for my first book. In the words of internet memes, “Well, that escalated fast.” Seriously though, I didn’t even see it coming. 20k in just under two weeks. (If my calendar and math-y skills are correct).
Small milestone, perhaps, but still. A fourth of my book is done… minus the hours going to be spent on fixing holes and crappy writing, and the black, soul-sucking void that is Chapter 7. However small this accomplishment may be, and however silly it is to write a post about my small accomplishment, it’s still a motivator. “I’ll be done with this in no time!”, says the happy part of my brain.
The one thing that keeps bugging me at the back of my head is all the things I’ll have to do when I finish. I have never taken a marketing class, I don’t know what on earth I’m going to do to format this thing when its done (I don’t even know what that entails! Help!), and I can’t even count the amount of social networking sites and stuff I’ll have to do to get it out there when it IS done.
I think this is another one of those jumping-the-gun-things (I tend to do that a lot), but it bugs me when I don’t know the exact plan for something. I think there’s a word for it, but I can’t think of it right now. Either way, I’m pretty scared that I’ll trying really hard on the whole marketing thing, and then fail horribly. All authors want their books to SELL SELL SELL, but so many of them don’t. I know the point of writing a book (for most people) isn’t the money aspect, but it would be really nice if I could make this my career. (You know, the whole dream-job-life thing…)
Are you guys tired of hearing about my anxiety? I sure am. :I