Ignorance is bliss. At least that was the case during my trip to publication. This month,
most authors at the Café have talked about breaking craft or genre rules. I’m veering off course to talk about breaking business rules.
- Aspiring writers must have an online presence—Twitter, Facebook, a website, a blog. Agents and editors will Google you. Woe to the wannabe writer who cannot be found online.
- Read a sampling of books released by a publisher before submitting to that publisher. This is the only way to know if your manuscript is right for them.
- Don’t share an email address with your significant other. It’s unprofessional.
- Join local writers’ groups, aka learning and perfecting your craft and networking.
These are the rules I broke while writing my first book, Sharing Hailey. There are probably others, but again, ignorance is bliss.
When I contracted my first book in 2011, my only online presence was email. No Facebook, not even a profile. No twitter, website, LinkedIn, Google+. Nothing. Did I begin establishing that online presence after the call? You betcha. And I enjoy interacting with readers, authors and anyone else I happen across online. Sometimes, I enjoy it a little too much. It’s definitely a distraction—one I’m grateful I didn’t have while writing that first manuscript.
Read a Sampling Before Submitting
When I submitted to Carina Press, I’ll be honest, I’d never heard of them. They were new to publishing: their first book was released in 2010, about the time I began writing the one they acquired. In fact, I didn’t read a Carina Press release until after they offered me a contract. I wanted to know if they published good books or if they published anything that came across their desk. (Insecure much?) A caveat here. I submitted to Carina because I’d won first place in a contest. Angela James, Carina’s Editorial Director, judged the finals and asked to see more.
Don’t Share an Email with your SO
When I submitted, I was sharing an email with my husband…had been for years. It made sense to me. After all, we shared a land line, a mailing address, and to some extent a cell phone because my husband didn’t (and still doesn’t thanks to his security clearance at a national lab) have one. So I occasionally let him borrow mine. In my sharing-an-email defense, I was thinking about getting a separate account because I was tired of wading through his stuff to get to mine. I’d put it off because of the hassle of notifying contacts. Now, I have not just one but three separate email accounts.
Join Writers’ Groups
When I wrote Sharing Hailey and submitted to Carina, I wasn’t part of a writers’ group. However, there is another caveat. Many years ago I was a member of several writers’ groups. I even served terms as president, newsletter editor (in the days of literally cutting and pasting…you know with scissors and glue) and contest coordinator. So I had that background of workshops, reference books, and writing friends. The background of workshops and reference books helped me write Sharing Hailey. After I got the call, the network of friends proved invaluable in deciding whether to accept the contract.
For me, perfecting my craft and writing something I loved without the business distractions was the key to getting published—that and a new publisher willing to take a chance on me. As for sales, I was lucky that erotic romance was hot when my book was released. Lots of favorable reviews and an RT Reviewers’ Choice nomination made up for my dismal online presence. While I don’t recommend that others handicap themselves the way I did, maybe my experience will help you obsess a little less about all the well-meaning advice and just write the d*!% book.