L.A. Cotton's Top Ten Tips For Newbie Authors
It’s been exactly five months since I hit publish on my debut novel (Fate’s Love), and what a crazy five months it has been. I’ve made some amazing friends – fellow authors, bloggers, and readers. The book community is a great place to be. But it can also be a little scary, at times.
So, I thought I’d do my ten top newbie author survival list:
1. Write, write, write.
Just keep writing. We all have those moments where with think our story is complete rubbish, but with every new story, you’ll grow, you’ll learn, and you’ll get better.
2. Surround yourself with people who understand your passion.
When I first started writing I didn’t tell a soul, and that was okay to start with. Writing was for me. But then I realised how would I ever know if what I had written was any good? So I took the huge step of reaching out to other authors looking to trade their writing for critique and feedback. A year later, I still keep in touch with two of them. It’s important to have people you can turn to for advice, feedback, and support.
3. Network and connect with other authors.
Since hitting publish, I have worked hard to grow my network of authors – it’s nice to have people to bounce ideas off, vent to, and generally chat about self-publishing with. I have discovered some amazingly talented authors through networking, and I have forged friendships with people that I would have never met if it wasn’t for writing.
4. Get a few good beta-readers and a critique partner you trust.
This a must for me. When I decided to self-publish Fate’s Love, I knew I loved the story, but would others? Beta-readers and critique partners give that insight we just don’t have – we are far too attached and invested in our work. Find yourself a team of beta’s you trust and let them help make your story the best it can be!
5. Social media is a must.
I probably spend more hours a day on Facebook than I do writing. Yes, it is a distraction, but it is also, in my opinion, vital for the unknown author. It gives you instant accessibility and an online presence. Sure, you have to work hard at building a fan base, but it will come. Just keep plugging away. Share teasers, run giveaways, talk about your life and interact.
6. Blogs are your friends.
Let’s face it, contacting blogs is scary and intimidating and, unless you personally know the blogger, is a task lots of authors would rather not do. But blogs are the unknown authors best friend. I truly believe blogs can make an author. It only takes the right person at the right time to read a book and it can be the next big thing. I worked really hard contacting blogs for the release of Loyalty and Lies and it paid off. Be polite, be friendly, follow blog submission requirements, but DO it!
7. Cover your book beautiful.
Covers matter. My debut, Fate’s Love, has sold consistently since it’s release, and I credit this to the cover. It didn’t get all five-star reviews, it doesn’t continue to get all five-star reviews, but it does continue to sell. And lots of people have commented on the cover. It doesn’t feature naked guys or sexy poses, but it is beautiful.
8. Invest in an editor.
When I first decided to self-publish I wanted to keep costs down, and decided not to invest in an editor. I felt confident I could do the job myself. Wrong. I soon realised I needed an editor to perfect my story…and boy, did she! If you invest in one thing beside a great cover, make it a great editor. They don’t have to cost the earth to do a fantastic job.
9. Don’t obsess over negative reviews.
Authors are going to get negative reviews. Fact. Negative reviews are going to suck for that author. Fact. Authors are going to obsess over said negative reviews. Fact. But I’m coming to realise you can’t please everyone… something would be wrong if you could. Try and brush them off, focus on the positive, and shelve it under ‘learning experience’. And never, ever respond to a negative review… just saying!
10. Write for you!
It would be easy to write the next stepbrother romance, or MC series, or dark erotic series… (and when I say easy, I really mean bloody hard work). I often think to myself ‘you should’ve had more sex in that book’. But when I started out I had a story to tell, and Fate’s Love is that story. I didn’t want to keep adding scenes to the point where I no longer recognised it. I write for me, first and foremost. Of course, I want people to enjoy my books, but if I start writing to the latest trend, or what’s hot in the book world right now, I wouldn’t be writing true to myself. And I’m pretty sure that would show in my writing.
…And lastly, enjoy it! Writing is hard work… says me currently writing this list when I should be finishing Salvation and Secrets. It’s solitary, and demanding, and tiring, but I love it. And even when it’s really, really hard, I still enjoy it. And as long as I enjoy it, I’ll continue to write.