Tuesday, July 1, 2014
Behind the Scenes – What It Really Means To Be an Author
Ever wondered what an author does when he/she isn't winning awards, traveling around the world for research, or posting funny pics of cats on their Facebook wall?
What's that you're saying? They WRITE?
Well yes, there's that. But there's so much more to this job, stuff they never tell you about before you sign that book deal. Let me tell you a bit about that part of being an author.
Book Covers: You write a novel, and while you do that, you see the story unfold in your head. You see scenes, images, and when you're done writing, you have a very clear idea of how you want the cover of your book to look. If you're a self-published writer, fine. The cover is all yours, knock yourself out! But what if you're one of the lucky few who manage to capture an agent or publisher?
I have news for you: there are people who know better. There are those at a publishing house who do nothing else but design book covers. They know the market, and they know what will catch the reader's eye. And trust me, it will not be what you, the author, thought would look best.
There's only one thing you can do in this situation: submit. Shut up, nod, and move on. Let them do their work. They know. Their sole interest is to sell your book, not to make you happy. Of course, in the long run, they'll also make you happy, when the money begins to roll in.
But here's the truth: authors do not get a say on book covers. End of story.
Promotion and Marketing: Oh heck yeah. Those many hours you spend on twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or whatever social media platform turns you on: those hours are work, believe me, and a necessity these days. There's no cheaper way to make your name as an author, and no other place where you can do it as easily. In fact, I think this should be part of any book deal. Of course, while you're on it, you can have as much fun as you want. This is a great opportunity to make new friends, find great ideas for that next Easter lunch, or learn something about a new writing tool or method or whatever tickles your fancy.
But promotion is part of the deal, and there will be plenty of it. Trust me.
And here's a hint: Your publisher will love you even more if you're already internet-savvy when you sign that first contract. In fact, they might just check how active you are already. And it might make that little difference between being accepted or getting a rejection slip. (Of course, if you're reading this, then you already know what I'm talking about, and you hardly need this hint.)
The "Inner Rejection": Publishers are people. When everything's said and done, they are partial to some things, and hate others. Also, they know the market. Be ready to change your plot line, scenes, conversations, even characters and book titles, to toss endings and rewrite… be ready to do anything at all to make your book marketable. When you submit your book, you're not submitting a finished product. You may think so, but it's not true. Don't be afraid of the editing process. Embrace it. Your editor isn't criticizing you. Honestly. Your editor is your friend. They want to make your book better, and not let you look like an idiot.
You'll also find out that with every book you get to publish the editing gets a bit easier, and less. It's a learning process, and it makes you a better writer.
Be prepared for the fact that the book that eventually gets released is different from what you originally wrote. In a good way.
Oh, and one last thing.
You totally, totally need to be able to sum up your book in two or three really good sentences. Why? Because you'll be asked this one question over and over again: "You wrote a book? What's it about?"And you better have a good answer. THIS is the ultimate marketing moment! You'll never get a better chance to win readers than in face-to-face conversations.
And no, you can't use the book blurb from Amazon. Your answer has to be personal, it has to convey that you know your book inside out. Who else is going to tell people about it if not you?
So–I've had my say for today. Now I'll go back to my writing cave and write book #8 for my publisher.
Have a great day!