The last five years have gone by in a flash but I have learned a lot along the way.
- Being published is just the start – It often feels like your first book being published is the end of the journey when in fact it is just the start. For many of us we have been writing for years before we get our big break. That first book is actually the trigger for a cycle. There is an overlap between books where you are often promoting one book, editing the next and writing a third. If you are also juggling a day job this gets a bit tricky. Also, like me, you may have had fifteen years to write and polish your debut novel but will likely be looking at 6 – 12 months for book 2 which is somewhat of a shock.
- Publishing is unique - The business of publishing is very different to the corporate world I was used to. There are many positives – firstly the people in publishing are both very professional and truly lovely, which is quite a rare combination. Their focus is about getting books out there and they work like crazy to achieve this. The publishing industry lacks the bureaucracy and rigidity of the corporate world. It might be my name on the cover but there is a huge team of very talented people who all come together to produce my book to the best possible standard and get it into the hands of readers.
- Find Your Tribe – I have made some wonderful friends over the last five years who I know I will cherish for a lifetime. Do not underestimate the value of finding like-minded individuals. Nobody else, however well intentioned, can truly understand the ups, down and frustrations of being a writer other than other writers. Seek them out either through local groups or national associations. If you are a romance writer I cannot recommend the Romantic Novelists’ Association highly enough – the support you will find there is second to none and they have the best parties!
- Editing, editing, editing! - What you submit is not what will be published. I’m not a fan of editing. However, I recognise that it is a necessary evil – and evil it is. You have submitted your manuscript and your editor loves it hurray! But then they send you pages of reasons why it has to change. Cue – confusion and self-doubt. If they love it why do they want me to change it? Because it will make it better. You won’t realise that the first time you read the structural edits but after you’ve pummelled a cushion and reread it you will see that your editor is a most wise and helpful sort and the edits will only improve your story.
- Success is not guaranteed – Thousands of books are published every year and only a handful will get a big marketing push from their publisher and only a few will sell in big enough numbers to hit the bestsellers lists. Don’t despair! You can learn to market your book without it feeling too cringeworthy and if you’ve built a good support network they will help you with this too. Even despite your best marketing efforts the odds of you being an overnight success are slim - it took Katie Fforde 8 years ;-) You need to be in this for the long haul. Celebrate every small success because none of this is guaranteed. Nobody knows which books will fly and which will tank and sadly the latter is rarely a reflection of the writing but only of reader choice. Whatever happens – never, ever give up!