I am excited to be here today with a Guest Post from Author, Julie Archer. She has a new book out Cocktails, Rock Tales and Betrayals that looks great. Be sure to check it out! Thanks Julie for stopping by the blog today!
What have been the biggest learnings of my writing career so far?
I have learned a great deal in the time I’ve been writing Cocktails, Rock Tales & Betrayals and here are a few of them:
Just keep writing – no matter how hard it is sometimes, just write something. You can’t edit a blank page and even if what you have written is utter rubbish, at least you can always work with it. I went through a phase where I really struggled to write anything and ended up doing a sort of detox programme, where you had prompts to write for short periods of time each day, say ten minutes or twenty minutes. It got me back into the habit and I know I’d go back to it again if I found myself in a similar position. I’ve also done word races with myself, just set aside half an hour to just write, no thinking, just words on the page. I find it easier to write first and edit later. If I laboured over every sentence, I’d never get a first draft done!
Get a good support network – sounds clichéd, but without my chums in the Writer’s Playground (a sort of forum for writers, borne out of the Six Month Novel Programme) I don’t think I would have got this far without going nuts. There’s also a great author community in Dartmouth, where I live, and we support each other with things like the marketing process that happens after you’ve been published. Other writers I have met either on writing retreats or at literary festival workshops have also been invaluable, sharing tips and advice when you’re a total novice at all this.
You can do it yourself – every writer dreams of the publishing deal, the six figure advance and the big bang launch. But when you start to get rejections (or simply never hear from an agent), it’s hard to see past that. Through my network, I discovered that it’s totally possible to self-publish and get the recognition you deserve. As long as you’re prepared to put in the work. When I decided that I was going to self-publish, I was extremely nervous. Createspace and KDP are things I’d never used before, but I wrestled with them both and won! And when you see your own name and novel on Amazon, it’s an amazing feeling. Not least when you get an Amazon recommendation email and the first thing you see is your book!
Spend money on a cover designer and an editor – if you are planning to self-publish then (apart from time) the two things you should really invest in are a cover designer and editor. When I decided to do this all myself, I knew that I didn’t want my book to look the same as everyone else’s. I didn’t want to do the standard picture from ClipArt or Shutterstock with some Times New Roman text on the front and back. I wanted it to be different. So I did some research through my network and discovered someone who collaborated with me through the whole process. She came up with an amazing design and I cried when I saw it! People have commented how professional it looks and I’m glad I did it. The same goes for an editor. Sure, we all have a friend who can proof read our manuscript, but are they going to pick you up on a gaping plot hole? Or point out medical inconsistencies in your hospital scene? Probably not. But one of your readers might. And then write in their review how you know nothing about A&E nursing.
Use social media wisely – this is when Facebook and Twitter become part of your job! The best piece of advice I was given about this was to choose one platform and do it well. If you’re spreading yourself across every single online application, it’s not going to work. Even if you have one of those fancy scheduling tools. Make sure you’re coming across as a human being and not just a sales robot. Not every post or tweet needs to say ‘buy my book’! Obviously if you’re self-published this is one way of getting your sales up, but even traditionally published authors have to do their own marketing. So follow me if you want to see pictures of my cats…