Know every nook and cranny of the business. This is s a lesson I’ve had to revisit recently.
There are reasons why authors like to blog about the beginning stages of book from idea to publication. Sure it’s boring, but there’s a bigger picture. It’s called CYA or cover your ass.
When I first start writing, I started like many authors. I wrote without any regards to the rules and ended up with an epic novel that had 250,000 words and a sequel of 180,000 that remains unfinished. It wasn’t until I had a heartbreak with my first agent that I took time off from writing to get to know the business better. Why? Because if this was a career path I wanted, it was important to have it work for me instead of against me. And since knowledge is power, I wanted that power. Today, I protect my dreams with the fierceness of a lion.
I learned how to write a real query letter, a book that was within normal publishing limits for a first-time author, and what happens after the contract is signed. I learned about my responsiblity as an author in terms of marketing and promotions because that’s how you find readers. I also learned about reviews, growing a thick skin, and what things like print runs and copyedits mean. Even though I’ve been at this for 9 years now, I have them reinforced from time to time to make sure I’m protecting myself.
From one writer to another, it’s important to know everything you can about this business if you want to succeed in it. Just because you land an agent or the publisher of your dreams, it doesn’t make it any easier nor can you rest on your laurels. You’re officially in the game and need to secure your position.
Nobody cares more about my career than me. I protect it with everything in my arsenal. Nothing hurts worse than to have your dreams dug out of the ground, trampled, and tossed on a compost heap. *raising hand* Knowing how the publishing business works is one huge guard against that.
I had a clear vision of what I wanted out of my career before I started gathering a list of agents. I was focused. Though it’s a little harder to research, I have an idea of which publishing houses I’d love to work for. More important, I have a backup plan for when my work doesn’t get picked up. Yours can be anything from shoving your book under your bed to being your own “agent” by submitting it to publishers who take unagented submissions. I always have a plan for when something doesn’t get picked up by someone who loves my work. Make sure whoever you target really loves your work and sees you as a client. Not as a way to make a quick buck. I’ve seen this happen more times than I’d like to mention.
I have a plan for each of my stories that don’t sell because I know enough about certain publishers to know exactly where they will be picked up without question. The only reason why I haven’t contacted them yet is because I haven’t exhausted any of my higher goals yet. 😉
Be bold. Be fierce. Don’t be afraid to question everything. Your dream is on the line. As a writer, it’s your right.
How much do you know about the writing business? Are you confident that it’s enough to keep you focused on your career path?