What I wish I’d known…

One of the Wenches asked me to name the top five things I wish I’d known before I decided to publish. I decided that would make an awesome blog post. So, here they are, in all of their glory.

  1. Writing is the easy part.
  2. You probably can’t do it all.
  3. An understanding personal support system is a must.
  4. Keep a notebook on you at all times. ALL TIMES!
  5. Everyone gets bad reviews

Writing is the easy part.

I’ve never had a shortage of ideas. I have at least five unwritten novels in me right now that are separate from all of my existing series (five different series already published). The biggest problem I have is time. You see, like many authors, I work full time in a non-writing career. I write whenever I can. I write for fifteen minutes many mornings. I write on my lunch break. I sit down the second I get home and try to get some words down. I write something every day. It might only be a hundred words, but it’s something.

But the writing is relatively easy. What’s not? Editing and revising. And everything that comes after it.

You probably can’t do it all.

This is related to #1. I could probably design an okay cover if I spent a week or two on it. Would it kick ass? No. It wouldn’t. That’s not where my talent is. I’m a writer and an editor. A formatter. I’m not a cover designer or a marketer. I’ve surrounded myself with an incredible support system including amazing cover designers, an editor I can trust, and a marketing manager I love.

An understanding personal support system is a must.

I’m incredibly lucky that my husband supports my writing career. He’s never upset when I want to order pizza because I don’t have time to help cook or clean up. He does the dishes after dinner so I can write. He’s dealt with going to bed alone for a year because my prime writing time is between ten and midnight. If he wasn’t so understanding, I wouldn’t have anywhere near as many books out as I do. And I’d be quite unhappy.

Keep a notebook on you at all times. 

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rolled over in bed and grabbed a pen to write on my arm. Or sketched out a plot idea on a napkin. Now, I carry a small notebook everywhere. You see, it’s often when your brain ISN’T thinking about writing that you’ll figure out that pesky plot point that’s been bugging you for the past month. My friends have all been warned. “If I go off into a dark corner of the bar for ten minutes with my pad of paper and a pen, don’t worry. I’ll be back.”

Everyone gets bad reviews.

Yep. Everyone. My first 2-star review devastated me. I’m pretty sure I cried. I definitely obsessed over it for a week. My latest 1-star review made me laugh. Why? Because it’s like a badge of honor. And, it was inevitable. And because it didn’t include any information that told me there was something wrong. The person just didn’t like my book. (But a lot of other people love it.) No book can please everyone. Hell, I didn’t much care for Game of Thrones. I recognized GRRM’s brilliance, but the book itself didn’t do it for me. Now, if you’re getting bad reviews that call out your editing or your spelling, that’s something to be concerned with. But if you’re getting bad reviews because readers don’t like it that your vampires don’t sparkle, that’s not anything you should worry about. And here’s another tip about reviews. You WANT some of those 3-star reviews that talk about good things and bad things in the book. You want them for two reasons. First, they will often give you constructive feedback that you can use on your next novel. Did the reviewer ding you because your language was too formal? Take that to heart. Think about adding some more contractions to your text. Did the reviewer note plot holes? Great! That’s something you can FIX. It’s actionable feedback. Take that and run with it.

Second, those 3-star reviews give you some legitimacy. They tell the world that you don’t ONLY have friends and family reviewing for you. (Believe me, this is common.) They tell other readers that your book might be worth reading. We’ll talk more about reviews soon. Very, very soon.

2 comments on “What I wish I’d known…

  1. Great tips – I especially like the part about embracing 3 star reviews. The truth is, when I look books up on Amazon, I only read those. The 5 stars are probably friends, family or fanatics and the 4 stars are still too enamored of a story to tell me what they didn’t like. I want to know if there’s something in a book I won’t enjoy before I spend my money on it.
    PS: I carry a notebook everywhere too and my best time for writing is between 10-12 😉

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