Putting pen to paper, fingers to keyboard or voice to the recorder are art forms in themselves. We all have our reasons for expressing ourselves through these avenues, and may not all want to be writers, authors or even published, however as artists most of us want to get our work out there so other can enjoy it.
This is how I started, I have no interest in the money, I just want to get my story out there for others to enjoy. The laughter, shocked look, the praise of our peers, it is all worth more than money. Unfortunately, there are people in this world that will misuse or even abuse our gifts.
Below are some hints and tips on how to ensure you get the most opportunities and the least dismay as possible towards getting published and even some tips for afterwards. However, don’t forget, this is a slow moving business, take your time, and do not be in a hurry as books aren’t written in a day and getting published can be a long and arduous task. Saying that, this is only my experience and my most important tip for you would be, talk to others, ask the questions, compare experiences and make your own decisions for your circumstance.
Before I start listing points I would like to make a comment that is so true in artistic circles and will also serve you well in your life no matter what you do. “Take your praise with humility and take your criticism gracefully.”
Now into the points of interest.
1 Get people you know to proof read. Make sure they are honest. You can find many of your faults in this way. You are close to your work, they are not, they will see things you can not. People you know of but do not necessarily know you are great for this. They have no emotional tie to you so are more than happy to be honest.
On this note, try stepping away from your work for a few months, then revise. This helps you to stop filling in the blanks as you read and gives you a closer perspective to the readers.
Be careful what advice you take. I hashed my original writing style into something it was not from the comments of one person. I am now back to my original writing style and it is so much better. So be selective in your use of feedback, it will save you heartache in the future.
2 If you can, get a professional to look over the work. It is absolutely amazing what they pick up. Little things can make the difference in the long run. I found this out recently, fortunately for me I met a great editor/publisher and another author who are giving me feedback on my writing and helping me correct bad habits. As it is early in my career, these things are fixable without too much re-working.
3 Several publishers have commented on the quality of your book cover. In their experience your cover means a great deal, people will pick up, put down or ignore your book initially from your cover. So be careful. Research your cover, make sure you get a professional looking package and portray your title as close as possible.
4 If someone offers to publish your work, but at a cost, start the alarm bells. It is not common practice to have this happen. Since being published this has been driven into me. A publisher that thinks your work is worthy, will pay for it. Warning: Vanity press don’t always like to advertise they are Vanity Press and often are very convincing in their reasoning for your contribution into your books future so try to approach publishers that already publish works similar to your own. So remember, publishers pay authors, not the other way around. If a publisher asks for payment, for anything, they are a Vanity Press. Tread very carefully.
HOWEVER, this is the catch. Being published is being published. It opens a great deal of doors into the community of writers and publishers.
Now to confuse you more I will add a third spin to this point. Make sure your book is professionally edited. If the publisher or Vanity press is going to put your book out there in its original format without any feedback or changes… be warned, people can be harsh and a partially edited novel will not get the praise it rightly deserves all for the sake of another few weeks or some extra capital put into your project. After all this is your work, your name, your life.
5 Speak to other authors. Talk about who they are published with and their experiences. Never take hearsay as gospel. Your relationship with your publisher should ideally be a long and fruitful one so do the research before you take the leap, it is definitely worth it.
6 Being an author/artist is hard work. Writing the thing, drawing the scene, painting the picture is the easy part. The real work starts before you get signed, then will continue day in day out until you just can not put any more into it. Then you have to dig deep and do it again. Some things I have had my hand in since being published are, promotional material, publicity, character design, graphics for wallpapers, character profiles, web page/s, Facebook page/s, conventions (several of these a year and over weekends) and finally self promotion. No-body is going to be more invested in promoting your work than you are. If they are, maybe you should question if you have chosen the wrong field in which to place your passion.
7 Don’t expect your publisher to do all the hard work. Your fans are your fans, your work your own. Take pride in it, advertise it, with your publishers permission of course, self promote. Talk to people. Locals love to know they have an artist living next door and you may even sell a few more copies and make a few more fans. Run competitions, people love to win things.
8 Finally, don’t forget about real life, your family, your friends. You may just get so caught up in the world you created that your life seems unreal. Make sure you can pull yourself back. That you have people to rely on. Once you have finished your project, sold your last copy, signed your last book, you will need something to fall back to. Normality is always a good thing to bring you back and truthfully, the industry is so full of highs and lows, you need someone to turn to in times of doubt.
And if after reading all this you are still after some good old fashion home truths I would suggest this blog http://www.shunn.net/advice/ I have just read it and I must say, he does not pull any punches. Any questions or comments on my blog, please drop me a line, I am more than happy to try and help those that want to help themselves.