I’ve had a part-time/full-time career as a writer for almost a year now. I’m basing that on my first acceptance, not when I first picked up a pen. In that time, I’ve learned some things I think I should pass on.
1. Don’t quit your day job just yet. My first acceptance? That book hasn’t been released yet. It comes out in March. That’s a year later. My second novel came out in November, but royalties are paid quarterly. The first quarter ends in March.
And, face it, as a new author no one knows who I am. I am not laughing all the way to the bank with bags full of money.
2. People in your life worry about the lack of bags full of money. If I had a nickel for every time I’ve heard any of the following: How are your sales? Have you seen your first check? Do you get paid for this? When are you quitting your day job? They mean well, but it just adds to the anxiety (see item 5).
3. You’re going to be tired. Since you haven’t quit your day job, you are writing on the weekends and in the evenings. You are also marketing, networking, reading anything you can get your hands on, and keeping up with the rest of your life.
4. Get up and move. In the past two days, I’ve read about authors with carpal tunnel in their wrists and blood clots in their legs. My butt is numb because I’ve spent all weekend redesigning my website. My husband worries more about my health than of the bags full of money.
5. Anxiety does not stop with a contract. It gets worse, actually. There a saying: “The first job of a newly elected politician is to get re-elected.” The same goes for authors, I think. At least it does for me. It’s a fickle business.
6. Writing is now your business. You are working for yourself. Learn everything you can about it. Treat it like a job: show up, be nice, and work hard. Keep your word and hit your deadlines. Be a professional.
7. Continue to learn your craft. Almost every job has training involved. This is no different. Keep learning with books on writing, workshops, classes, blog articles … Your job as a writer is to continue to write, to tell better stories – to tell them faster. No amount of marketing will sell a poorly told story.
8. Someone will always discount you. Just like you have fans, you have detractors. People who think it’s “hysterical” that you write romance or people who take nothing seriously unless it has cites and footnotes. It’s okay – what they think doesn’t matter. Be confident and smile anyway.
9. Surround yourself with other writers. While everyone who loves you will listen, no one understands like another writer. Find a freelance editor, a critique group, a critique partner, and a local writers’ group. Form a group of beta-readers who will be honest with you when you need it.
10. You will never stop being surprised. Whether it’s a great review (or a bad one), your next cover, or an email from your editor, it’s always an adventure.
Despite the anxiety and the exhaustion, I love this job. I’d rather do it than eat – and on a lot of days I do just that.
My surprise? I got word in December that five chapters of Hard Silence, the second book in the Agents Undercover series, will be included in a One Night with a Cowboy: A Western Romance Sampler with nine incredible authors. It’s from HQN, and it’s FREE. Be sure and get your copy. Amazon | B&N | Google Books