Although I’ve published over 15 novels and novellas since August 2013, I’m still a mere child in the world of publication.
But think about how much a child learns in the first couple of years of life. It’s seriously mind-blowing.
So today, I want to share with you five things I learned during my infancy in publishing. Because at the pace this industry is moving, an author has to stop crawling and run PDQ. (Oh, and a quick caveat to these bits I’ve learned…they’re only lessons, not rules.)
Recognize faces and smiles.
Yes, we’re busy and yes, our time gets squeezed once we’re committed to deadlines. But remember, being nice, smiling, and recognizing the work of others is important. Treating editors, readers, other authors, reviewers, bloggers, agents, and whoever else you can think of with respect is good business. And it’s also good for your soul and theirs.
Both figuratively and literally. Sometimes you have to stop the treadmill. With the reality of publishing these days, you could release a new month every month and readers would still ask for more. You could be on Facebook every second of the day and still have more things you could post or could comment on. No one is going to put out their hand cop-style and tell you to stop. You have to know when enough is enough.
Stand with help.
When your friends and colleagues offer you a hand, accept. When they need yours, reach out. Because none of us can get through the challenge of creating stories and running a small business without people to advise us, bolster us, and sometimes ply us with alcohol (not a technique I advocate with actual infants).
When my first book was contracted, all I was thinking about was gaining readership. I had a fairly broad network of other writers, primarily from starting Romance University. I let those extended relationships lag for a while, and it wasn’t smart. Because realistically, who’re you going to turn to for advice on everything from marketing to formatting? That’s right, folks who’ve been there and done that.
Don’t wait until you need people to stay in touch with them. Keep those relationships strong even though you’re trying gain readership (maybe exactly because you are).
And if you’re worried about being a “taker” at this stage, don’t over-worry about that unless you really are being a PITA to people. Believe me, once day you’ll be able to pay back all that early support and help someone else stand strong too.
Keep learning. Publication can rule your life. Which means you have less time for things like eating dinner with your family, walking your dogs, and showering. One thing many authors give up is taking the time to continue to learn and improve their craft.
We’re trying so hard to keep up and get ahead that we allow our love of the written word get sidetracked. But continuing to learn feeds not only our ability to write better but also fills our souls. For writing craft, James Scott Bell is my hands-down favorite. His short craft books like Write Your Novel from the Middle are well worth the money. One the subject of creativity, my go-to experts are Julia Cameron and Twyla Tharp. And if you haven’t read Todd Henry’s The Accidental Creative, I highly recommend it. And for just plain ol’ mental health, you can’t do better than Brené Brown’s The Gifts of Imperfection.
Walk and run.
Go big or go home. This doesn’t mean you have to do the once-a-month publishing track or get a seat on Oprah’s show (although if you do, remember we’re kinda friends, okay?). It means you have to find ways to pull away from the pack and be the kind of craftsperson and businessperson YOU are. That may mean breaking out and trying something new, something risky. Do it even though you’re scare spitless.