The Things They Don’t Tell You



Way back when I was first sending off manuscripts by snail mail in the hopes of being published, I assumed that I just needed an editor to finally say “yes” to one of my manuscripts and everything would be hunky-dory. I would be a published author! I’d receive a magic key in a secret initiation ceremony, and from that day on everything I wrote would be eagerly snapped up. I’d have it made!

Er… I was a little off on that one.

What I discovered when I was finally published in ebook form in 2007 was that the “yes” was only the beginning. Here are some of my observations now that I’m grizzled veteran published writer.

  1. You’ll never again have the luxury of writing time like you did before you were published. A published writer needs to stay in front of readers with new material, or risk being forgotten. Publish or perish.
  2. Getting one editor to say yes on one manuscript does not mean that they’ll say yes to your next manuscript. Being published may open some doors; now that you’re a known commodity, you may be able to submit a proposal rather than a finished manuscript. But you can still be rejected. Trust me, I know this well. Rejection hurts just as much when you’re published as when you were trying to break in.
  3. I had no idea how much time I’d be spending on promotion and marketing. I thought all I had to do was write! Boy, was I naïve.
  4. I assumed I’d be able to make at least a part-time living from writing fiction. I’m still dreaming about that one. Maybe one day.
  5. I didn’t realize that writing was a business. I thought of it more as a creative art. But make no mistake, it’s a business with contracts and obligations you must fulfill. Writing is a job, your business. Take it as seriously as you’d take any job, or any small business you owned. Show up every day and put in the time.

Like any venture, writing fiction has its ups and downs. But despite what I’ve said here, I still think it’s the best, most interesting job in the world. I couldn’t stop now if I tried!


The Things They Don’t Tell You — 8 Comments

  1. This is so on point! Thank you. I wish I had read it a year ago. With two books out on the same day, I had no idea how my inbox would fill up with information/requests about blogging, reviews, publicity, signings, etc. How do you find the time to write the next book while publicizing the last one!? And the cost! How do you know how much to spend on media, giveaways, launches? I think there is a whole Fine Arts degree that could be based simply on what to do after the book is written! This was great, Jana.

    • Your comment about how much to spend on promotion/launches etc. is something that’s on my mind right now since I’m getting my expenses and income for 2014 organized so my accountant can do my taxes. Can I just say that I always find this time of year depressing? I try to strike a balance between promoting to the romance reading public and not spending a fortune. Fortunately, there are a lot of free things I can do, like guest blogging and requesting reviews on review sites. The down side is that these things take a lot of time away from writing. All I can say is that you have to decide how much time and money is right for you to spend on promotion.

  2. Spot on with everything. I think rejections hurt even more now (especially if they’re completely unexpected), but they’re buffered by the good parts. Promotion is NOT one of the good parts.

    • Yeah, I agree, Liz. I think rejections do hurt a little more now. I worry that the first few books were just flukes and I’m never going to be published again. My career, such as it is, is over. I have to remind myself that I do have it in me, and just keep writing.

    • I think you’re right about rejection hurting more now, Liz. But it’s something writers have to get pretty thick-skinned about right away to make it in this industry. What doesn’t kill you… 😉

  3. Great points, Jana. I have to tell you, most of these realities were surprises to me, too. Especially the amount of work an author must do for promo, even when working with a publisher. It’s great that you’re being honest about those realities. I think it will help aspiring writers to understand the business of writing so they can hit the ground running, right away.

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