Once upon a time you had an idea for a story. You reached down into the creative well of your soul and pulled forth an embryonic plot. You nurtured it, you prodded it, and you molded it into a rough manuscript. Then you guided it into a fine looking fully developed novel.
Lounging around the beach writing whenever the muse fills you. Bracing yourself as adoring fans mug you during countless book signings and convention appearances that are more gala than obligation. Spending hours responding to fan e-mail.
If you think that any of the above are likely to happen then a good reality check is probably in order. I recommend sitting back for a few moments and savoring the accomplishment you have achieved. Writing a novel can be a daunting task and having finished it you have done something significant.
When you’re done breathing in the heady feel of accomplishment you can begin the real work. Becoming a successful author involves a lot more than cranking out prose. And as I am finding out, it requires you to move beyond the solitary process of word crafting and start reaching out to people.
AGENTS AND EDITORS
These are the people that are going to help you publish your novel. And regardless of which one you get first both are necessary and will require that you cultivate your interpersonal skills and a whole new set of writing proficiencies. Any one of these could be the subject of dozens of posts and I don’t intend to go into detail about them right now.
For the moment, just keep in mind that you will need to know how to solicit agents and editors with your authorial arsenal of pitch lines, query letters, synopsis, and outlines. Each has their own format and peculiar writing requirements that you may have to learn. Just because you wrote a wonderful breakout novel doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to sit down and craft a query letter that is going to grab their attention.
I recently had the opportunity to attend a writing conference and have my query letter reviewed by a published author who knew a bit about such matters. When I sent it in I thought it was fairly good. Then I had the chance to read what the other workshop attendees had sent in. If that had represented the batch of queries an agent / editor received during the week I don’t think they would be asking me for my manuscript. These other queries were good. Really good.
FANS AND AUTHORS
Not only will you be seeking editors and agents to sell your book, but you will need readers to buy your book. As I’ve recently learned that process begins even before the novel goes to print.
It may seem weird that I listed your fellow authors along with the fans. However, you are going to want authors to be among your fans. Not only that, you’re going to want them to be among your friends. Reach out to the writing community and get to know some of the authors. Published authors have a lot to offer the pre-published writer. They have been through the process before and can share their insights with you. They have contacts in the industry and a reader fan base. They also share a common interest with you and can be a great source of moral support.
In order to do this you need to make yourself visible to the public through the various social media that are available: Twitter, Facebook, and your own blog. Each of these will allow you put you and your writing talent in the public eye. This is the opportunity to show everyone what you offer as an author. That means you’re going to be making a
LOT of posts. Every day you’re going to be out there and connecting with people.
I realize that this post hasn’t solved anyone’s writing dilemmas. It wasn’t intended to. What I hoped to do is show you where I am in the writing process; in fact, where all of us are if we are at the pre-publishing stage. This is meant to be a teaser of what you can expect me to be looking into in the months ahead.
I hope you'll join me.