While realizing this may not be the most original idea for an end-of-year reflection, I still like to look back at last year and appreciate what I’ve learned. The world of the new author brings another level to the human experience:
|Jo March in "Little Women"|
--I published my second book of the Gastar series, “Children of Discord” in 2011. As in my article “On Sequel Sympathy,” I realized a follow up is every bit as difficult as the first novel in a series. The writer must give the audience enough of the first, but enough newness to keep the story fresh. Not easy.
--When we new authors enter the writers’ cyber-space, we all look like cans of Spam. With no followers, no friends on social sites, I see myself with similar skepticism that others gave me. However, I followed the example of several great authors that gave me a chance. I believe in giving other new authors a chance.
--I learned it’s important to realize not to expect much in the way of sales. Face reality and work with it. Working without expectation has a freedom all its own, and I still wonder how I would feel about writing if I “wrote on-demand.”
--While being careful not to spam, don’t give up on your work. Keep it out there, some readers will be interested and some will not. That’s OK, you’ll be known as a writer, not a spammer. I wrote a lot about the spam-accusations hurled at me early on, and now I see the spammers aren’t always new to the industry; some of them self-promote exclusively. That’s OK, every author has his/her own style of promotion, as well as writing.
--Have fun with your new work. I like to pretend I’m a Tribble on Twitter, do some silly tweets, and tweet something that most of us can relate to; like Happy Holidays and food comas. It slowly becomes a double-life, and I love an alternate reality of my everyday experiences.
--Write all the time; every day, if your hand can stand it. Articles, short stories, chapters of your next book, whatever it is, writing is like eating: The more you eat, the more you eat; the more you write, the more you write.
--When not writing, I’ve learned to read. I keep one of my many e-readers handy, and read new author colleagues as well as classics, most genres, all the time. Life is not boring when one reads great work, and it not need be the mainstream bestsellers.
--Value other writers, the classics and the other new authors you meet in cyber-space. Offer something to do for another; you’ll be surprised what you get in return. I find giving to be encouraging, gratifying, and educational. Expectations can yield disappointment, but pleasant surprises can yield happiness.
--Learn to be realistic in what you can participate in. I flunked out of my first blog tour attempt. Furious at myself for letting others down, I went the extra mile for my first successful blog tour. While I loved it, I now know it takes focus and time. Nowadays I purchase and review books of other authors, the better fit for me. It’s less mass exposure, but gives quality exposure. Now with blog tours/other group activities I plan carefully. It’s better to do a few things well than many things badly.
--Social media can take over your life, especially if you’re working full time, and/or caring for a family. I’ve learned to select a few sites to work with regularly, and I’ve dropped out of several sites.
--I still offer to give my books to reviewers. Though I’ve written that can be taken wrong, I find it more awkward to ask them to purchase.
--After eliminating my first website www.gastarseries.com, I re-launched my blog www.shevata-cccole.blogspot.com. Blogging is not easy, but it’s a good place for the new author to write and feature your work regularly. As my blog has increased in viewers, my on-line presence, though small, has come light years from day one.
--I’ve never obsessed about the money to be made as a new author. It’s not worth the effort; some books sell more than others. As I’ve tweeted many times, if you’re looking to get rich writing, get a plan B.
--Most of all, I find my new author status as a special, particular corner of my life I claim to be my own. When I talk about my writing world with friends/family they usually say, “You’re having a ball with this, aren’t you?”
Yes, I’m having a ball because I love it, more every day.