Written exclusively for Wredheaded Writer
I was asked recently in an interview if I had any advice for aspiring authors, and my answer is that I’d be happy to share some tidbits of what I’ve learned so far about this business. First and foremost, the biggest thing I can tell you is that you’d better be extremely passionate about writing or you might as well go ahead and hang up your hat right now. This business is extremely competitive; I’d actually even suggest it’s similar to trying to be an actor. Yes, it’s that competitive. Being an author is a part of who I am, imbedded deep down inside my heart and rooted within the marrow of my bones. And that’s what drove me when the rejection letters rolled in or my books didn’t get the ratings I felt they deserved. Instead of taking it personally—and honestly sometimes I do get my feelings hurt; hey, I think it’s impossible not to when you invest so much of your time and energy into something—you’ve got to develop a thicker skin and use it to your advantage. Realize that you can’t please everyone, but a lot of the reviewers offer healthy constructive criticism too, and that’s what you need to focus on to improve your writing skills and overall ability to be a good storyteller.
Originally when I set out to publish my debut YA urban fantasy novel, Crimson Groves, I thought that I’d get accepted by one of the many literary agencies I reached out to and that they would take care of everything for me. But that couldn’t have been further from how everything actually happened. Though I must thank a few of those agencies, because their personal rejections saying, in essence, “I like your writing style, but we’re not taking anything vampire related. Do you have something else you can submit?” were actually what motivated me to self-publish in the first place. You see, I’m obsessed with vampires and just about everything paranormal, and based on my own extensive research, I believe that genre isn’t going anywhere. Check out the ratings and book trailer for Crimson Groves and add it to your Good Reads shelf: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13241827-crimson-groves
So now that I’m doing this on my own, it’s time to figure out my budget. When you go the indie author route, you have to pay all the upfront expenses (i.e., editor, cover designer, publishing company, etc.). And my best advice with regards to this is to only spend what you’re able to lose should your book not sell right away (or that unhappy chance it doesn’t sell at all). If you’re willing to teach yourself how to epublish, Amazon and Smashwords offer free training manuals on this, which can save you some money on the publishing side, but if you want to offer your book in paperback or hardcover, you’ll have no choice but to work with one of the many publishing companies to choose from. I’ve found that CreateSpace is one of the less expensive ones, and they do offer packages that include cover design and editing services. But for people like me that prefer a little more control and a more personal relationship with their writing team, I outsourced my own editor—Stephen Delaney with Close Reader Editing Services—and book-cover designer—Claudia McKinney with PhatpuppyArt—and I couldn’t be happier with the business relationships I have with them. And that’s actually why I like CreateSpace. They allowed me to bring my already edited manuscript and fully designed cover to them and charged me a simple flat fee for formatting a printed version of my book. So when I was ready to publish my second mature YA/paranormal romance thriller, UnGuarded, it was much easier than before because I had a system in place. Check out free sample chapters of UnGuarded and add it to your Good Reads shelf: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15356720-unguarded
Now for another very important tip: networking. You must build “blogationships” with as many book reviewers and bloggers as you can. These amazing people are the backbone of your business. In exchange for a free copy of your book, they’ll give you an honest review and post it on Good Reads, Amazon, etc. But don’t just be a “taker” when making these connections; be a “giver” too! Spend time reviewing their submission guidelines (and pay attention to what they’re asking for!), learn more about them by reading their bios and then perhaps include that in your review letter so they’ll know you cared enough to learn about them, subscribe to their blogs and follow them on Facebook or Twitter (or wherever they like to be “stalked”). Yes, these things take time and may distract you somewhat from writing, but it’s essential and eventually everything will balance out. Remember, as indie authors, we are our own literary agent, our own publicist, and it’s up to us alone to market our books and ourselves. This is why we NEED those amazing book bloggers to help us. If they like you and your work, they’ll share it all over their social media sphere of influence, including in their blogs. But you need to return the favor by sharing the blogs you love, and also help other authors by reading their books and taking five minutes of your time to review them, which is why I recently added a review section to my website: www.ashleyrobertsonbooks.com/reviews
I wish you the best of luck in your writing career, and if you’d like to stay connected with me or learn more about my books, you can find me at these places: