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7 Things I've Learned as a Debut Author

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7 Things I've Learned as a Debut Author

Life is never easy when you're a debut author/novelist. Even if you're Kim Kardashian. Remember her selfie book totally flopped? Its impossible to accurately predict consumers 100% of the time. There are cold hard facts but there is also hope. 

So here we go:

1. You Are Not Alone: However much you feel it or worry that you are. Believe me, you are not. There are two wonderful groups that I am apart of via the wonderful internet. Shelly Muncaster's wonderful Keystrokes and Closed Doors which is a great gathering place for authors who are working on their novels and the Indie Author Support and Discussion group (which has both a website and facebook page). The IASD group is comprised of both published authors and writers working on their first books. Its one of the best meetings of the minds that I have even been apart of.

2. It'll Be Difficult: There's no getting around it, its terribly hard to be a debut novelist, even if you've finished your book and done the amazing and gotten an agent and publisher. Its a long hard road to get the wider populous to hear about you, much less get them to buy the book. 

3. You'll Loose Time: This will range from time with family to your social life to parts of your sanity, as in where did all the time go. Some days you will be so caught up in your writing, social media strategy, writing bogs, setting up your website, that you won't be able to remember how you got there.

4. No One Loves Your Book As Much As You Do: I've heard writers say 'this book is my baby' or 'a part of my soul went into writing this book' - in that case, calm down Voldemort. But seriously, no one cares about your characters or the story as much as you. Not your spouse or mom (ok that's a stretch-but certainly not my mom) or your best friend or even your agent and editor. This is your project, your hopes and dreams. Don't expect mountains from people who can't deliver them.

5. There's So Much To Celebrate: I am currently celebrating finishing the first draft! Woo-hoo...oh wait now I have to go through three more editing hoops. Huzzah (insert weariness here). But that's the great thing about writing/publishing a book. There are so many little triumphs along the way and gigantic ones as well. Like when an agent asks to see your entire manuscript. Or when your sales start rising on Amazon. Invest in champagne people. Invest.

6. Sooner Or Later You'll Hate Looking At That Cover You Love: Ok so just me? I loved the cover for The Clouds Aren't White when it was designed. I love the colors, the way it matches the tone of the book, the dandelion on the spine. Ok I still love the dandelion. But honestly, it'll get old at some point. You'll look at it a lot. A lot a lot. 

7. It'll Propel You On To The Next Book: This goes with #6. I decided I needed a new book in my life and I wanted to get back to the business of writing. So out comes book #2, Lives Paris Took. The old book will always propel you forward. You'll want to dive back into a world again and figure out the characters. That is why the debut novelist has so much going for him/her...they are driven, they want to succeed. It's not all bad.

Keep your head up and keep writing.

Cheers,

Rachael

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10 Things I Learned Writing My First Novel

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10 Things I Learned Writing My First Novel

1. It takes much longer than you would think: I finished the first draft of The Clouds Aren’t White in three months. I thought to myself, ‘hah this writing isn’t too bad. I’ll be done in four more months.’ That was not the case. 

2. You spend 4x as long editing as you do writing: Every writer will tell you this. The first draft is the easy part. The second and third drafts are harder. Editing is the hardest. Somehow you have to take a first draft and make it into a story that flows, that makes sense, that has proper grammar…something worth reading in other words.

3. You'll rewrite at least one chapter, usually the first and/or the last: This happened. When I read the first draft over, six weeks later, I wanted to gag myself. The first chapter was awful and it in no way coincided with the ending. Also I added another two chapters. This was actually the fun part, bringing the story full circle.

4. There are a thousand achievements to celebrate: First draft. First revision. Second revision. Third revision. Editing finished. Writing a dedication. Sending off to agents. Sending off to more agents. Deciding to self publish. Getting a cover. Uploading to amazon. Website going live. Book release date. Getting the advance copy of the paperback. First sale. It goes on. 

Disclaimer: My husband no longer drinks champagne with me…apparently we’ve “celebrated too much.” Whatever. Celebrate on.

5. Your family will get tired of hearing about the book: This happens. Sadly. Its hard to understand just how much courage it takes to make a simple file upload on amazon or what it feels like to lay awake at night, sure that the world will laugh in your face for the book and label you a fake. Or perhaps even worse, that no one will ever buy it. 

It takes so much courage to write a book. It takes dedication and perseverance to get through the hardest part…yourself.

6. Getting an agent is as difficult/almost impossible as they say: I sent my query letter out to thirty agents all of whom were meticulously researched to make sure that they were accepting novels and that my book would be a good fit. It totaled out to twenty nine rejections. The only ‘yes’ I got was from an agent that had a dubious reputation in the literary world. Keep going. Your book is worth it. Rejection doesn’t reflect upon you.

7. You'll want to quit at some point. Or many points: All I wanted was for it to be easy. I wanted to quickly find an agent and a publisher and sell hundreds of thousands of copies. Then it didn’t turn out that way. I seriously considered not self publishing. I wanted to quit. I did.

8. There will be spelling mistakes in your published manuscript: It happens. Get over it. Who cares if the grammar nut reviewed your book and commented on it. No one else cares…as long as they aren’t rampant and distract from the narrative. 

9. You'll cry. My husband has come to realize that this is just a part of living with an author. I cry when I’m thrilled with what I’ve done. I cry when I hate it and want it all to go away. I cry when the words sound like a three year old. I cry because I’m sure that sentence is literary perfection. I also cried when I uploaded files to Amazon and CreateSpace. I cried when my family wasn’t as thrilled as I hoped they would be. Crying is ok. Being disappointed is ok, just don’t let it become every day. Try again tomorrow. Do something different tomorrow.

10. Holding the book, seeing it for sale online, will make all the pain worth it: Crying again. There’s something, a part of you, out there in the world. A thing of beauty that you’ve created and that’s something very few people can say. Be proud. Don’t let sales or likes or shares get in the way of the wonderful thing you’ve accomplished.

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