Since that first contract, I’ve learned quite few useful tidbits about wading through the ever-growing sea of publishing. Who’d have thought there was a learning curve to being an author? Most everyone learns a little more about the craft of writing with each successive work; what I hadn’t anticipated was what I’d learn about the craft of being an author. Much of the following will seem like no-brainers to those who've been at this for a while, but for the rest of you, here are some of the gems I had to learn the hard way:
signing away? Make sure you do.
2. Don’t agree to major changes you feel uncomfortable making. 9 times out of 10, the editor is going to be right. S/he likely has much more experience in the business than you and, therefore, has a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t. With that said, editors are sometimes wrong. I once agreed to a change I didn’t want to make, fearful that the publisher might drop me if I didn’t acquiesce to its every whim (stupid, stupid), and the negative reviews for that story ended up highlighting that one aspect I hadn’t wanted to add. The moral of the story: if it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it—even if it means losing a contract. You’ll regret it later if you go ahead against your gut.
3. Don’t spread yourself too thin. While promo is a necessary evil, don’t join every social networking site you can find or you’ll end up accomplishing nothing. A big part of social networking is making meaningful connections. If you try to be everywhere at once, you’ll find yourself nowhere. Few of us find that perfect balance between connecting with readers and pimping our books. I’m still working on that one myself, but I’ve met some really neat people in the process.
4. The tighter and more grammatically correct your story is, the less opportunity you give editors to change your hard-crafted prose. This is one I grew to learn after that fateful change I relayed in #2. I knew my writing back then wasn’t a contender for the Great American Novel award. I also knew my grammar was good but not stellar. I went back to school and significantly improved both. I (and the editors I’ve worked with) have been much happier ever since.
writing is like night and day. This is the
first novel in my erotic horror series.
My publisher wanted to turn it into a
romance, which might not have been
the best idea. It has a good story line,
but it also has its flaws.
Bottom line: don’t worry about the bottom line, at least not yet. Be true to yourself. Network with people you’d want to hang out with, if given the chance, outside the Internet. Steer clear of editors and potential peers who would see you as nothing more than a means to their own end. Write what you’d want to read. If you don’t, you’ll only end up wasting your time and energy forever chasing that golden ticket.