I’ve received several comments in response to my recent posts on Author Marketing from writers who are concerned it’s too early in their process to think about things like Blogging and Author Identity. I understand that mind set–especially if you are just beginning to flesh out a first draft of a first novel. Many of you have barely begun to envision what a finished book will look like, let alone crossing the ultimate threshold on your journey–a published work.
However, I really can’t say this enough–it’s never too early. Really. Make it your New Year’s resolution to overcome that reticent mind set and take a leap of faith. The sooner you start thinking of yourself as a ‘real’ writer and taking the necessary steps to grow yourself into a writing career, the sooner your work will reflect that professionalism–and the sooner the publishing world will take notice.
Of course your focus should be on your craft and gaining the skills to produce the best work you can. At the same time, you should also be planning your platform, putting together that writer’s resume, and thinking about who you are as an author. Do it now. Trust me–when that big opportunity finally arrives, there won’t be time.
I know this from experience. By the time I shipped my manuscript to Jennifer Schober (the agent who would ultimately end up representing me), I had done many of the things I have suggested that all of you do–I had a website and a blog. I had even built a basic marketing map based on ideas I had gotten from other authors. I had been building my author identity by making the rounds at writer’s conferences and publishing trade shows speaking on marketing. I had also begun teaching writing craft classes with my colleagues Jennifer McCord and Scott Driscoll.
All of this, and I still wasn’t totally prepared when my agent announced she was ready to send the work out to publishers. I didn’t have a one paragraph author bio, a 50 word book blurb, a 3-5 page synopsis, or a one page summary of the sequel. I didn’t have social media set up. And she needed all of this done, before she began submitting. I should have been ready when she was, and I wasn’t. So at 2 am in a hospital room during a major family medical crises, I made it happen. I had to. This was the chance of a lifetime. And it was hell.
I wouldn’t wish this scenario on anyone. I share it only to point out that you NEVER KNOW when opportunity will arrive, and you MUST BE READY when it does. So, do it now. Even if you know it will all change later, begin the process. Be prepared.
Because, as I said, you just never know when opportunity will arrive. After almost 2 years of consistent rejection, and months after I had moved on to a new work, something magical happened. A shift in the publishing universe occurred and another chance of a lifetime appeared. Eight long weeks of negotiations later, and I have my very first book contract–right here, in my hands, today. Huzzah!
BUT- I also have about 8 months to write a sequel that I have barely started, 2 days to turn in a final copy of the manuscript for the first book, and a detailed author questionnaire asking for everything from my hobbies, professional background and marketing efforts to links to images that illustrate my vision of cover art. Thank the stars that my writer’s resume has most of that information already in it. Even so, there is much to be done, and the clock is ticking. Not that I mind one little bit. Best Christmas present EVER.
So, off I go to meet my dream. And as I have no specific tips to share this week, I will refer to you to the blogs of experts who I know will:
I’ll be taking a hiatus next week for the holiday, as should all of you. But meet me back here on January 1st for my official book announcement and some more advice on preparing yourself for publication.