Finishing Book Two and What I Learned Along the Way

wg manuscriptIt’s done.  The Winter Garden is done.

Well, the story is finished.  While I was stuck on the third to last chapter (yes, I had finished the epilogue and part of the pen-ultimate chapter before I started that one), I decided to edit the first twenty-seven chapters.  Now, the editing is done as well and The Winter Garden (Ingenious Mechanical Devices #2) is off to my beta readers! Until they get back to me with their feedback, I will be taking a little hiatus from Emmeline, Immanuel, and Adam.  Every time I finish a novel, it’s a bit depressing.  I’m done with the characters (for now), the plot is finished, the bad guys have been dealt with, and now, I need to step back.  In my next post, I will discuss editing in more detail, but for now, I would like to impart what I have learned after publishing my first book and finishing my second.

Please note, I am not the queen of marketing and most of this advice is just what I have learned or noticed through my experiences.

  1. Don’t expect to make money.  It seems like many writers go into publishing or self-publishing with the delusion that they will make thousands of dollars.  More than likely, it won’t.  Don’t expect to make even $100 off your first novel because many people don’t.  There are millions of books out there for people to download or buy, and if you are an unknown, people aren’t going to flock to your work.  If you do make a bit of money, be proud of what you have done, and work on book two.
  2. Keep writing.  Having a terrible month of sales can make you question why you bothered to publish at all.  It gets better.  There are months where sales have been absolutely abysmal, and I wondered if anyone would ever buy it again, but in a week or two, sales were nearly back to normal.  The market fluctuates during the year, and the more books you have, the more likely you are to sell.  It makes sense, more books= more books for people to buy= more sales= more chances for people to see your work= more exposure.  Writing more books is passive marketing.  If you’re a writer, you probably have more than one book in you (I hope), so keep with it.  Keep writing and persevere.  Authors drop out by the dozen when they are not one-hit wonders.
  3. Edit, edit, EDIT.  Seriously, edit your work.  Your first draft is not perfect, and the sooner you realize that, the easier it will be to edit your work by yourself.  Authors should be able to edit their own work, at least for the first few rounds of editing.  Know your issues.  I have an addiction to the word “as” and tend to screw up lay/lie/laid and discreet/discrete.  I also know I like really long sentences.  If you know you have issues and acknowledge them, you will improve as you write more.  Editing also ties back to number one.  If your book looks professionally done, people are more likely to leave better reviews and suggest it to other people.  I went six months without anyone noticing the discrete/discreet issue, but if you are not grammar savvy, hire an editor.  They can be pricy, but often graduate students are willing to edit work at a lower price than a professional.
  4. Get on social media.  Sure, you can have a website, but no one is going to find you if you aren’t actively reaching out to readers.  Facebook has changed its algorithms recently, so it is harder for page posts to reach their audience without paying for ad space.  Do you have to do that? Hell no.  If you are like me and don’t really care what I share on social media because it is never super personal, add people to your profile page instead of your author page.  From what I can tell, Facebook does not limit the post reaches of profiles like they do with other pages.  Get on Goodreads as well and create an author page that ties to your books.  There are tons of discussion groups for every genre, and it’s a great place to meet readers and fellow authors.  Speaking of authors, get involved with author groups on Facebook if possible. They are awesome people who are often incredibly helpful and willing to boost a fellow author’s post about a new book or sale.  You never know who is going to help you, but do not spam your book.  People will unfollow someone on Twitter or Facebook if all they do is scream, “BUY MY BOOK! FIVE STAR REVIEWS! BUY MY BOOK!” It’s obnoxious.  Use social media to make connections, update people on your books, and show them who you really are.
  5. Write a book you would like to read. It may just be a pet peeve of mine,but I cannot stand when authors write a book or genre because they think it will be popular.  Write what you want to read.  If it’s something you are invested in, it will be better because you care how it turns out.  Make characters you want to read about and know that there will be people out there who care about them too.  Working in an academic environment, there is pressure to write the next great American novel, which in my mind equates to some metaphysical journey probably involving a road trip and characters I neither like nor care about.  I don’t write that kind of thing and never will.  I write historical fantasies that focus on my characters and how they handle their conflicts with society as well as an antagonist.  Write what feels right and don’t focus on what others want you to read or what your genre dictates.

Well, that’s my two cents.  My next post will be on the joys of editing, so stay tuned.

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