I started with learning about queries. They were like the gateway drug to this whole process. My first query took forever. Okay, maybe not forever, but over 250 posts and two months. It took me less time to draft the novel.
And then, since I was so inept at it, I hung out in Query Letter Hell on AbsoluteWrite for months. I was afraid to stop. I couldn’t afford to lose the small proficiency I’d gained. It was time well spent, because I learned an awful lot about what does and does not work as regards story.
I became a voracious reader of all the forums on there, as well as many blog posts from other writers. Here’s what I’ve learned so far.
- You should read as much as you write.
- You should write every day.
- Don’t skimp on editing. Do beta swaps and hire an editor when those are done. (Second part may be optional if you’re going for traditional publishing.)
- You need to learn about social media and be effective in it. Know about Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler, and whatever it is that teens are on. I think it’s Snapchat. Get involved in groups on Goodreads.
- Have a blog. Put good content on it, several times a week minimum.
- Remember that the best promotion for your book is to write another book. If you’re going to self-publish, you should really have at least three a year.
- Remember that writing doesn’t pay very well, so don’t quit your day job.
- Once you publish a book, promote it like crazy. Have a press kit, and contact radio stations, book bloggers, newspapers, and events in your area where you can sell your books.
- Make sure there’s time for experiences in your life so you have something to write about.
I don’t think it’s possible to do all this. Really. I’m extremely focused, and I spend every possible minute on this stuff, as well as some I shouldn’t, and I don’t see it happening. I don’t watch TV, I rarely go to movies, and I don’t play video games. I don’t even work full-time, and I put everything into this that I possibly can. My kids are grown.
I’m honestly afraid to publish until all eight of my novels and my short story collection is completely ready to go–edited, covers and all. What if I have no time to write later because I’m an author? That seems like a painful irony. I don’t want to look at the manuscripts I’ve written and hurt because I don’t have time to finish them.
So I’m curious. What does everybody else do? How do you handle the choices you have to make?