Well, after a whirlwind January and now well into February, the excitement over my recent book (series) contract has eased into more of a lingering thrill.
I’ve shared and celebrated, and now, I’ve settled into a new routine.
Which, by the way, you’ve heard it before—
The contract offer is only the beginning. After the contract is when the real work begins. (However, I will say that having worked my socks off to get to this point, I’m no stranger to work. This career milestone is just a different kind of work.)
In So…What Next? we talked about what really happens after an author lands her first (traditional) book deal.
Today I wanted to go a step further and mention some additional considerations. Things in the past four weeks I’ve found helpful.
If you’re an author-in-progress and dreaming of that first contract, here’s what you should know.
- Manage your time wisely. Learn to say no and no, thank you, I’ll have to pass. You’re now on deadline—that delightful word you’ve fantasized about saying. No longer is your dream a fantasy. From the moment you sign on the dotted line, you have a binding date—a time frame in which to revise your manuscript and get it back to your editor. Time management is key. For my friends who like to fly by the seat of their pants—wave goodbye to that. A (workable) schedule is no longer a pipe dream. It’s necessary. Organize your day however it suits you best. Some find spread sheets helpful. Other authors use white boards, planners, and computer software to make life easier.
- Limit social media. You can still maintain visibility and be accessible to your fans/friends, but don’t try to do it all or be everywhere at once. Connect with your audience where they’re at, set a timer, and then, step away. You can check back in later after you’ve made word count or worked through another round of revisions. And for heaven’s sake—don’t get your bloomers in a twist over the ins and outs of social media. Yes, you need to embrace it (to a degree). No, you don’t have to be controlled by it. This may help–> Social Media Etiquette: Let’s Review. And this: How to Love Twitter Without Going Crazy.
- Pay it forward. Volunteer to judge writing contests. If you’re asked to judge, weigh your time involvement and consider saying yes—especially if you’ve entered contests and others have taken valuable time to critique your work. Mentor another writer. If someone has helped you grow your craft, bless another writer on the journey. (See the first bullet point about time management.) Work this into your schedule, and again, stick to a plan. You can’t be available 24/7, but you can answer questions, offer a limited critique, and point to additional resources that would benefit your mentee.
- Update/create your fabulous website. If you’re an old hand at blogging with tons of back material, comb old posts and create a new Best Of… page. There you can link back to great content that new fans missed. (For example, see what I did here. Scroll down a ways.) Coordinate your efforts around what you write or organize your posts according to theme. Haven’t created a website yet? Now’s the time! Readers check out authors. They buy books. You want to be found. 😊 FYI I use the WordPress blogging platform, and there are tons of tutorials like this one by Jeff Goins on how to get started. Don’t want to go it alone? Two awesome teams I recommend are Jones House Creative (my website gurus) and Savanna Kaiser Designs (who I know, personally, as well). There are other super resources available. Consider your budget. Check references. Study their work and websites they’ve created.
- Consider your marketing efforts now rather than later. I know. Sounds somewhat distasteful, right? But the truth of the matter is…we write books to sell books. We want others to read our books. We want readers to spread the word about our stories. No longer is our writing just a hobby or even a concentrated effort. We have a new profession. It’s author. Authors earn money. That’s how we support our craft and add to the family budget. We love writing, but after the contract, it’s our job. Back to marketing efforts. While some publicity is generated in-house according to whatever our contract states, much of the effort still rests on our shoulders. Create a Facebook page/Readers Group. (Because of social media’s ever-changing algorithms, don’t rely solely on FB, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) Start a newsletter. Think about blogging. Share your contract news with friends and family and ask them to spread the word about your upcoming book. Early buzz and excitement starts the marketing ball rolling early. Shameless plug time–> If you’d like to be a member of my newsletter family, I’d love for you to join us! You can do that here or in the top right-hand sidebar. In my monthly e-newsletters, my “family members” are privy to insider info. We also encourage and uplift one another, as well as have monthly giveaways for subscribers only.
- Read. As with any career path, all work and no play, makes one very tired author. Sometimes, we don’t think about scheduling downtime, but this one’s a must. Without it, we risk burnout and exhaustion. Whatever you find relaxing (and healthy), do it. And then add reading to that. Reading opens new worlds. It grows us and broadens our viewpoint. It also improves our craft. I recently started (Quaker pastor) Philip Gulley’s Home to Harmony. Oh. My. Goodness. Such a delightful read! This story unfolds as little nuggets of life shared in a frank, forthright manner. I love this author’s easy style, clever witticisms, and poignant truths. I want to linger over each page and soak up the emotion. The Home to Harmony series has been around for several years, but I’m catching up. Regardless of our preferred genre, reading a variety of stories educates and enlightens us. And today, especially, that’s a really good thing.
Go forth, new author!
After the contract, divide and conquer. Own the emotion. Live the dream. Write your stories for your reader, but with a plan in mind.
And, dear reader–please be patient as we navigate this new path together.
This author may stumble. I may make mistakes. I may need your help.
I might seek advice.
Thank you for extending grace as I enter published author land.
SHARING IS CARING
What authors can expect after inking their first book contract and hints and tips to help.
Okay, you’ve signed your first book contract. Now what?
When does the work end and the fun begin? How to have the best of both worlds after signing on the dotted line.
DON’T DESPAIR! HELP IS ON THE WAY!
How to say no gracefully and why time management is a must for authors.
Blogging isn’t the be all, end all. What to consider before you start.
Practical helps and hints to rock your awesome author newsletter.
Has your chance come and gone? Only if you believe it! (Encouragement bomb!)
If you’re a new author or a writer on the journey, what tips and hints have you found most helpful?
Dear Reader, what excites you about a new author?
What are your favorite ways to connect with authors?
This is a new season, my friend!
Whether you’re a reader or a writer, I’m delighted to share this journey with you. Stay tuned for upcoming news by subscribing to my blogs and newsletters. (See the right-hand sidebar.)
Also, would you help me spread the word about HER HOPE DISCOVERED (Book One) in my upcoming Welcome to Ruby book series? Release date is set for July 2019 with Mountain Brook Ink (more juicy tidbits and details to follow in future newsletters) and I’d love to generate excitement. You can check out MBI’s wonderful authors here.
In the future, I’ll form my “Street Team,” readers and influencers who will commit to specific ways to share my stories. These readers/influencers will also preview ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) of my books and post their impressions and reviews on social media prior to and during my book’s release. July 2019 sounds so distant, doesn’t it? Trust me, it ‘s not. A lot happens between now and then.
In the coming year, another way you can help is to ask local bookstores and libraries to consider carrying my book when available. Contact Nikki Wright, MBI publicist, for a book catalog and more information.
Until next time—