Sunday, April 22, 2007

On Being a Newbie Author

I'm increasingly fascinated by the book publishing process, and many fears have been laid to rest over the past few months. As I learn how this all works, I have found some really great resources written by very generous authors on the HOW of being a successful author. Author of the Jack Daniels trilogy, JA KONRATH, is among the most generous with his time and advice that I've discovered so far. If you are interested in straightforward information and advice not only on getting your books published, but sold (!!), click on his name for a link for his blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing. Plus!! JA Konrath has two free technothriller e-books he's giving away on this blog: THE LIST and ORIGIN.

Here are just a few of my own discoveries and tips:

1. Agents and editors are amazingly helpful people. Don't be afraid to ask questions.

This seems obvious, but when novelists first begin the querying process, it's pounded into our heads that we must follow a strict set of rules regarding proper, professional behavior -- and above all, don't be a nuisance! Learning the time frame of publishing is a hard lesson. A query to an agent might take a day to garner a response, or it might take four months. We learn that it is not proper to follow-up until the appropriate amount of time has passed. When in doubt, allow three months. For partials, four months. Full manuscript, six. (Of course, many agents respond much more quickly than this.) As agonizing as it is, we follow these guidelines.

After querying for months or years and finally getting an agent, we tend to continue in the pre-agent mode: We must not make a nuisance of ourselves. We must not bother the agent. Some new authors sit in angst, wondering how, why, when, for months.

It took me a few months to feel comfortable emailing my agent with questions. And guess what? When I emailed him, he responded with answers! And now that I have an editor, she responds to my questions as well! I just have to ask them. Isn't that simple?

2. Agents and editors are human. They have lives outside of work. They get the flu sometimes. They likely have good days and bad days, just like everybody. And you know what else? They are funny. All the ones I know are, anyway. I adore my team.

3. Being On Time is a good way to be.

The weird thing I discovered about being an author is that I've been in charge of my own writing schedule all along, and when I sold a book, that changed. Working on my own, I rarely had a day where I felt like procrastinating or blowing off work. Now that I have people expecting things from me, I have this tremendous urge to procrastinate (rebellion from my teen years has re-surfaced!). This new urge fights against my inherent anal tendencies to be early for everything. It's quite a humorous battle raging in my head. Odds are high that procrastination loses this battle every time, though.

4. Work ahead -- once you sell your novel, there are many new things to consider. Marketing. Promotion. Public speaking, visiting classrooms, booksignings (yikes! You mean, like, physically leaving the house?), marketing gizmos and gadgets and giveaways, contests. Start the brainstorming early, so that when you actually have cover art and a definite title, you are ready to promote.

Although I don't have a pub date yet, it is likely to be less than a year away for Janie book 1 (spring 2008). I've finished my first round of edits and sent them off. Simon Pulse has my bio and author picture for the spring '08 catalog -- they are working on that already.

If my revisions are acceptable to my editor, Janie will go to the copy editor. And now, I must work on the ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS page -- I'm told they'll need this soon. Wheee! This is so exciting.


ORION said...

How exciting for you! The acknowledgments page is such fun. I think I hold the record for longest one!
I couldn't help but respond. I know I am 100 days from release. I am just WAITING for 99!!!!

James Aach said...

Good luck. I have been to the Superstitions and they are quite impressive (and rugged).

For another free technothriller dealing with an issue of the moment, see

Lisa McMann said...

Orion -- it's hard to keep it short and sweet, especially the first one!

James, thanks for stopping by. Free books are good!

K Cutter said...

Exciting stuff!