TOP TEN THINGS THAT I WISH I’D KNOWN ABOUT BEING PUBLISHED
- That plotting saves so much work in the long run
I know what all of you Pantsers out there are going to say, I used to be one of you. And I understand the need to have the freedom to let the story flow as it comes and let your characters surprise you. But, you’re probably already plotting (at least in your head) already. Once you take a day or so just to get those ideas on paper, you’d be amazed at how much time it will save in the long run. One day of plotting has literally saved me weeks of rewriting and agonizing over cutting entire scenes. Since I started plotting skeletal outlines and ideas of scenes, placing them where they should go (very generally), I have gone from writing a book every 3-6 months to writing one every 2 months (including editing).
- How fast I can really write
Nice segue, huh? For those who’ve never tried it, go look up NaNoWriMo. Right now, I’ll wait. (Don’t worry, I get no kickback and there’s nothing in this for me except seeing you get better!) Now, sign up! As a perfectionist, I let my inner editor – who is very loud and extremely obnoxious – slow my writing down, agonizing over every single word. In the words of Elsa Let It Go! NaNo will help you do that. Be realistic about how many words you think you can do, set the bar low and raise it when you need to. I went from barely eking out 1500 words per day to writing well over that in 1 hour now. The faster you write, the more you produce. Even if it begins as, well, let’s say, less than Shakespeare-like prose, you can take time after to polish to perfection. I promise you, you will need less polishing than you think.
- That deadlines can be my friend if I let them
I like spontaneity as much as the next person. Okay, maybe more than the average person, but deadlines are my friend. I work from home and there are a vast number of ways I can get distracted and off task. However, remembering my looming deadline, seeing it in front of me (on my calendar daily) and creating my daily to-do list keeps me focused. In the midst of all my family activities (I do have three busy teens), work demands as well as a separate business I run from home, I need to keep a lot of balls in the air. Take your deadline and break it up into a daily or weekly word count (or pages, or chapters…whatever works best for you.) Then stick to it no matter what. I know if I have a meeting that will keep me occupied one day, I need to make up my word count before the meeting. So far, not only have I been able to meet all of my deadlines but I recently turned in a manuscript 3 months before it was due. That, my friends, is what a deadline can do for you.
- That my brain will never shut off until the book is written (and then the next, and the next…)
People will always ask where your ideas come from but the simple fact is, the more you write, the more ideas will come to you. Like a muscle that becomes limber and strong from use, your imagination will be in overdrive when you write consistently (and quickly). You will find yourself working out plot ideas as you shower (when you have no way to write them down), while you drive (use the recorder on your smartphone!), and as you’re dozing off to sleep (sorry, no suggestions here, other than I work out plot twists while I sleep – another reason to write first thing in the morning!)
My point is, your mind has an unlimited supply of ideas, stories and plot twists that won’t be purged until you write them down. Once you do, it is going to torment you with another. Get used to it. This is the mind of a writer.
- How much “hurry up and wait” there is.
Let’s say you’ve finished your book (poem, short story, novella, whatever) and it’s polished, pretty and ready to be sold. Get comfortable because now you get to sit and wait…and wait…and wait…and wait some more. There is nothing about seeing your work in publication that moves quickly (other than deadlines that come too fast when you procrastinate or when your publisher needs edits.) Agents will shop the manuscript around, editors will need to read your work and, even if it sells right away, it will be months to publication. Even in our digital, instant-results age, it still takes time for covers to be created, copyedits to be made and release parties to plan. If you’re not a patient person, you either need to learn to be or get out of this business.
- How many books there are out there just like yours.
I know, your book is different, it’s special, it’s a one of a kind. Guess what? That one probably won’t sell well. I’m not saying your book has to be like everyone else. I’m saying readers like to know what to expect from certain genres (including literary fiction). Romance better have a happy ending (of some sort), action and thrillers better get their hearts pumping and literary fiction better leave them feeling like their soul has been touched and changed. You are competing for ad space and trying to corner a very crowded market. There are more books on the market now, thanks in part to ebooks and the door to self-publishing, than ever before. That’s not a bad thing but you must be aware that in the grand scheme of things, you are just a blip on the radar of readers unless you make yourself a bull’s-eye target to them.
- How much time you really need to spend marketing
Which brings me to the next point – marketing. Ah, the bane of every writers existence. As much as I’d love to write all day, every day, marketing is something that every writer needs to spend at least a little time on. You need to devise some sort of strategy that works for you and your budget. Even if you have a publisher.
Wait, you say? They won’t do it for me? Nope, not entirely. I have a great publisher but I’m not going to leave my entire career in their hands, hoping they can draw in readers. They can help but ultimately, if I ever part ways, I want to know, people will read anything I write. Therefore, I need to market myself, not just my writing. That might mean having a blog for some, social media for others, advertising in various media…it’s up to you (and all of it works to differing degrees for different authors) but it has to be something you are comfortable with. Set aside at least 10 minutes to market for every hour you spend writing. You can do it all at once or a little at a time. But, like Nike says, “Just do it.”
- How making the best-seller lists is mostly luck
We all want to see the words “best-selling author” near our names. It’s just a fact. It goes with writing the way peanut butter goes with jelly. And deep down, we all know it’s nothing more than a title. It doesn’t make you a good writer, right?
Hitting the best-seller lists (any of them) really comes down to your book being the right book in the right place at the right time. It’s a bit like a lightning strike. Sometimes great books never make lists, no matter how you try, even if they should. And other times, poorly written books will. Publishers don’t know why, agents don’t know why and authors wrack their brains trying to figure it out. Don’t waste your time. Let someone else do that brain-wracking. Your time is far better spent writing and promoting and then repeating those actions.
- How many author friends I would make
Repeat after me – I will find other authors to commiserate, celebrate and keep accountable with. You are not an island, no matter how much you want to be. You must make connections and a group of fellow writers, especially in your chosen genre, are invaluable. You need them and they need you. And, unlike most businesses, writers love other writers and don’t see them as competition.
Let’s face it, writers are readers (we have to be) which means we have our own favorite authors. And there is no possible way one writer can fill the need of millions of readers. Why not feel at home with a group of people who “get” you and your quirks because you’ll soon realize, most other people in life won’t. Make friends and cross-promote like crazy!
- That most authors suffer from the same anxiety issues
It’s true, my friends. Every writer I’ve ever talked to has gone through the “I’m great/I stink” days. Our psyches shift faster than the sand in the hourglass. One minute we are riding high, loving our craft and the next we read a review and it shatters us for days. Some things just can’t be changed. It’s part of who we are and what makes us able to open ourselves up and pour raw emotion onto the page. However, it also leaves us vulnerable. It’s an occupational hazard you accept when you send out that manuscript for publication. I have yet to meet an author who doesn’t feel the same way. This is when having friends helps because those people who understand you sort of “crazy” are the ones who are going to help you move forward and grow. The ride is exhilarating but far more so with companions.
The Cowboy and The Angel
Releasing August 5th, 2014
From our NaNoWriMo author T. J. Kline comes the stunning follow up to RODEO QUEEN. When a sexy cowboy falls for a not-so-angelic reporter, secrets and sparks abound.
Reporter Angela McCallister needs the scoop of her career in order to save her father from his bad decisions that have depleted their savings. When the chance to spend a week at the Findley Brothers ranch arises, she sees a chance to get a behind-the-scenes scoop on rodeo. That certainly doesn’t include kissing the devastatingly handsome and charming cowboy, Derek Chandler, who insists on calling her angel.
Derek has a rodeo to run and a chip on his shoulder. He has no time for the fiery woman who is clearly hiding something. But for some reason he can’t keep his hands off of her. Their connection is instant and explosive but Angela’s secrets could threaten his family and Derek needs to prove that he’s not the irresponsible kid brother anymore.
When the rodeo dust has settled, will the Cowboy and his Angel allow themselves to give in to the attraction that threatens to consume them both?
T. J. Kline was raised competing in rodeos and Rodeo Queen competitions since the age of 14 and has thorough knowledge of the sport as well as the culture involved. She has written several articles about rodeo for small periodicals, as well as a more recent how-to article for RevWriter, and has published a nonfiction health book and two inspirational fiction titles under the name Tina Klinesmith. She is also an avid reader and book reviewer for both Tyndale and Multnomah. In her spare time, she can be found laughing hysterically with her husband, children, and their menagerie of pets in Northern California.
Rafflecopter Giveaway (Two Digital Copies of RODEO QUEEN by T.J. Kline)