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10 Things I Wish I Knew About Being an Author That I Learned the Hard Way
by Deborah Plummer Bussey
I have been blessed to be a published author both through the traditional process of an agent and publisher who managed the editing, marketing and every other aspect of the book process; and through self-publishing where I managed every aspect. Through both processes, here is what I have learned:
- Book publishing is about sales…not your great writing or your fabulous story or your credentials. Having a target audience that will buy your book and a great marketing strategy is the most important aspect of book publishing. There are many, many wonderfully written books with the most creative plots that do not sell. Publishers want to sell books and even self-published and indie authors are all about sales as well.
- Professional editing is worth every dime…even if you aced your grammar course and love diagramming sentences, you still need an editor. I find it extremely difficult to edit my own work, despite the fact that I once taught grammar and creative writing classes.
- The more eyes or your work the better…don’t hold on to your writing as if it were high-level classified information. Sure, it is your intellectual property, but every writer, no matter how great, benefits from feedback, the more the better.
- Show don’t tell…it is always better to describe a scene or create dialogue rather than straight narrative.
- Read books on writing…they help. My favorite is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
- Join professional writing associations…even if you only attend one conference or page through the journal, you get to know the industry and feel a sense of belonging to a noble profession.
- Don’t spend money on PR/marketing firms…unless you have a huge advertising budget and money to burn. PR/marketing firms can get you exposure but they cannot sell books. Only you can do that. The ROI (return on investment) is very low. Once you become a best seller you may need a firm to take you to the next level, but starting out it is best not to spend your money with marketing agencies.
- Do spend money advertising with book bloggers…they are all about books and folks who visit their sites love to read and are seeking the next best read.
- Reviews sells books…positive reviews are great, but even negative ones help your writing and sell books. The best gift you can give an author is to write a brief review (you don’t have to be a great writer—a thumbs up or thumbs down suffices) and rate the book on sites like Amazon and Goodreads.
- Be realistic about book sales…even though publishing is all about sales, writing is about communication and even if you have twenty good fans there are twenty people you have communicated with and twenty ambassadors for your work. Remember the majority of self-published authors sell less than 100 copies and new authors by traditional authors sell about 2,000-5,000 over the lifetime of their book. Best sellers are in the range of 30,000 or more. Whether you have sold 20 or 20,000 you can still enjoy the art of writing. Despite all of the challenges of publishing, I hope that you do.
Genre – Cozy Mystery
Rating – PG13
Synopsis: The bonds of sisterhood uncover the truth in a psychologist patient’s alleged suicide. “They Still Call Me Sister” is a fictitious psychological thriller and murder mystery that will trigger conversations about racial identity, sexual orientation, politics and the intersection of religion. Kathy Carpenter, a former Catholic nun turned psychologist, had a patient, Chanelle Trout, who allegedly committed suicide.
Carpenter, aka “Sister Nun,” does not believe her patient took her life. Carpenter embarks on an investigation into her patient’s alternative lifestyle that leads her into a scandalous underground world of sexual obsession, drugs, murder and political corruption. In the process of unraveling this mystery, Carpenter builds a closer relationship with her sister Tina and finds herself relying on her sibling to protect her as she puts her own life in jeopardy to discover the truth.