This has not been an easy spring for anyone. We’ve all had our schedules upset. We’re all trying to figure out new ways to work while wondering when/if we’ll get to go back to working as normal.
But there are bright spots in the madness. I, for one, am truly looking forward to all of the self-isolation art that is going to flood the world. There will be music, and paintings, and choreography, and so many new books!
For the people who have written their first book while in quarantine, I wanted to take a moment to offer a bit of advice that will smooth your story’s journey.
First off, just because you wrote a book does not mean you need to go through the process of publishing it. Don’t let anyone tell you that your experience in writing is invalid unless your book is for sale on Amazon. If you want to be published, great. If you only want your partner to read it, that’s okay, too.
If you do want to pursue publishing, put your manuscript away for at least a week. Then dive back in with a fresh eye and start revising. Find some decent beta readers and get their thoughts on your work before you decide it’s time to start submitting. Even when you think you’re ready to submit, read your manuscript one more time for good measure.
If you want to submit to an agent or a small press, that’s awesome. Do your research! Not just on how to write a proper blurb and query, but also on what houses/which agents would actually be worth working with. Better to have no contract at all than a contract with someone who will only do damage to you and your book.
Unfortunately, there are predators out there. If they want you to pay them money to publish your book, run. If there are multiple posts online about a publisher not paying their authors on time, run. Do a Google deep dive before you submit to anyone. It will save you from the emotional roller coaster of soaring high when you’re offered a contract and the plummeting low of having to reject the contract.
If you decide you want to self-publish your book, do NOT let anyone tell you that you are not a real author. HOWEVER, you must put in the time and do your research. There are some awesome books about how to get started as an indie author. Read them.
Save your pennies for a cover artist and an editor. You can manage the formatting and uploading of files on your own, but if your book isn’t properly edited and doesn’t have a good cover, you will either never see any sales or get some heartbreaking reviews. Tell your friends and family you’d rather have cover art money than cocktails for your birthday. Sell your kidney. Whatever it takes. Just don’t let impatience ruin your publishing dreams.
Retailers, publishers, and, most of all, agents are going to be flooded with new books. Writing is an amazing outlet, and a lot of people have turned to pounding the keys to save their sanity during quarantine.
Take a breath, realize the path ahead is going to be even more crowded than usual, and do your research each step of the way. Each hour you spend gathering information will set you one step ahead of your peers.
Keep writing. Don’t forget to edit. And stay safe and sane out there.