Gone are the days when an author signed a contract and dealt solely with an editor and an agent. Nowadays, authors are required to promote themselves and their books…and write. Author Kathleen Collins shares her insight and methods on how to accomplish these goals.
While there is a plethora of advice out there on how to write your book and how to get it published, there is much less on what happens after that book gets picked up. Before you become a published author, your time is own. You can work on what you want to work on, when you want to work on it. If you don’t feel like being particularly sociable, you don’t have to be. Things get done at your pace and on your schedule.
All of this changes once you’re under contract.
Your writing time will now not only be taken up by writing, but also by self-promotion, social media, blog posts, and a myriad of other business related tasks. Maintaining a career in writing becomes an exercise in balance.
Firstly, it’s important to know that you won’t always be able to work on what you want to work on. When you’re under contract, you have to work on the books in that contract, even if that’s not necessarily what’s talking to you at the time. There is no more, “I don’t feel good today, I’ll write tomorrow.” There is only deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. Don’t get me wrong, deadlines can actually be a good thing if you are a procrastinator like me. They help me stay focused. That doesn’t mean I like writing when I have a raging migraine, but I do it. Even if it’s twenty words, it’s twenty more than I had the day before.
I am, by definition, not a sociable person. However, once I even started considering publishing my books, I had to start setting aside my own hermit-like tendencies. I made a website with a blog, got a Twitter account and, once my first two books were under contract, I made an author Facebook page. I’m still not as good about spending time talking to people on any of them as I should be, but I’m out there and I’m making connections I otherwise wouldn’t be able to.
The other thing that’s important to know is that you’ll be waiting. A lot. You’ll be waiting to hear on submissions, on titles, on release dates and covers. You’ll be waiting for copy editors and content editors. And then you’ll be waiting for reviews and feedback. If all this seems a little overwhelming, it is. It can be absolutely head spinning at times. But I’ve learned a few things that help.
- When it comes to making you sure you spend time writing when you have a million other things to do, set a timer. Set it for whatever interval you want and do nothing but write during that time. Don’t edit, or research, or engage in social media interaction. Just write.
- If the internet is the time suck for you that it can be for me, there is a wonderful program called Freedom. (macfreedom.com) Freedom completely cuts off your internet for whatever time frame you enter. If you decide you just must get back on line before your time is up, you have to completely restart your computer. It is available for both Mac and PC.
- Schedule posts and tweets days in advance. Pick a day of the week, write all your social media for that week and schedule it to go out on various days at various times. The downfall to this method is you aren’t actually engaging in the social part of social media. I really only recommend this for doing blog posts ahead of time. You want people to think you’re a person, not a robot. If you do nothing but pimp your books, you’re more likely to anger people than engage them.
- Even if you do nothing else on Twitter, take the time to thank people for reviewing your books and retweet good reviews. And, if you get nothing else from everything I say here – DO NOT respond to negative reviews. No matter how tempting, no matter how much you might want to just say “I think you misread this or that”, don’t. It will not benefit you in any way shape or form and can severely damage your career even if you do it in the most polite way possible. Vent to your husband, your sibling, your mom, your best friend, but do not vent on line. Even if you don’t name the reviewer, it makes you look bad. Not them.
- To Do lists are your best friend. I work a full-time job, have two younger children with all their accompanying activities, one of them special needs, and a husband who also has his own issues. If I tried to remember everything I had to do without writing it down, I’d go insane.
- Adjust. All those activities I mentioned before? I recently went out and bought a small laptop that turns into a tablet so I could write while they were in karate lessons or cub scout meetings. Give yourself permission to sit in the car if it means you can find more time to write.
- If you’re concerned about a timeline with your book, contact your agent or your editor. That’s what they’re there for. And many times they can answer a question in a few minutes that you could stress over for days if you don’t ask.
- And this one bears repeating: ask. When you don’t know something, ask someone that does. Whether that is a fellow author, your publisher, or your agent, it doesn’t matter, just ask. You’ll save yourself lots of time and headaches.
It is a huge adjustment to go from a struggling, aspiring author to a contracted, published or soon-to-be published author. But we’ve all been there. Every single author out there, no matter how big or how small they are, has been there. Just remember that and find the tools that work for you.
So do you have any thing you do that helps keep you on task that might help someone else? Or do have a question about what happens after the contract? Share or ask away.
Author Tonya Kappes takes the lectern on Monday, March 24th.
Death’s Daughter – Book two of the Realm Walker series
Juliana Norris, Realm Walker with the Agency, is an Altered. A fact that she runs up against every time she’s forced to work with human police officers, and their species-ist commissioner, on cases they can’t solve themselves. Which happens more than they would like to admit.
Her gift—the quality that makes her the best Realm Walker in the business, without boast—is the ability to read magical signatures. Whether the gift came from her father, the dark fae god of death, or the mage mother she can’t remember, is anyone’s guess. And when Altered children start going missing with only wild magical signatures as clues, her heritage is the last thing on her mind.
She can’t afford such distractions, and she definitely can’t afford to worry about the fact that her mate, master vampire Thomas Kendrick, hasn’t spoken to her since she saved him from a demon—maybe it’s because she had to stab him to do so. Because whoever is kidnapping these children must be very powerful to wield wild magic. Very powerful, and very dangerous indeed.
Bio: Kathleen Collins has been writing since Kindergarten. And while her ability has drastically improved, her stories are still about fantasy worlds and the people who live in them. The rare instances that she actually finds some spare time, she spends it playing with her two boys. Three if you count her husband. She is currently hard at work on her next book. To learn more about Kathleen, visit her website or connect with her on Facebook, twitter and Pinterest.
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