Six more things I’ve learned as a published author

Ok – here’s a second blog post about things I’ve learned since my book was published. I thought these posts worth doing because quite a lot of things have come as a big surprise to me! I didn’t really know what to expect, except the unexpected, and I haven’t been disappointed. You can read five things I’ve learned since my book was published here. Now here’s a few more.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe community of writers, and readers, is remarkably strong.

I’ve been delighted by this – I really didn’t expect the warmth and sense of community I’ve found since my book came out from people online and on social media. People are only happy to offer a kind word, advice or simply support when you are negotiating the sometimes baffling world of letting people know about your book. This is something which runs through Twitter, Facebook and through the comments you get on your blog. The community of writers and readers has become truly international too – I’m as likely to be chatting to book lovers in any part of the USA, in Europe, Australia, Africa, Asia – anywhere in the world in fact. And isn’t that an amazing thing?

Being published once doesn’t make finding a home for your next book any easier.

I suppose this is an extension to the indifferent world point I made in my last round-up. I’ve found that having a little bit of a track record doesn’t count for very much. Just because you have a book out, doesn’t mean publishers suddenly see you as a great prospect – you are still just another manuscript on their massive pile – and another rejection slip to send out. I suspect, and hope, this might change a few more books further down the line – success usually breeds success after all.

There really is no money in it.

US_Dollar_banknotesNo really – none at all. Especially if, like me, you write literary fiction which is hardly a mass market proposition. If you want to chase money as an author I think you would probably have to make that your main and central aim – write purely what you thought would be most commercial and work hard on the selling side. Even then I suspect all but a few authors make very little compared to what they would if they put the same amount of time and effort into a regular job. So it’s a good job we don’t do it for the money then isn’t it?

There are people out there who really get it!

It’s a fantastic thing to hear about people who have read your book and really enjoy it. That’s the payoff for an author I think – reaching readers in that way. It’s a huge pleasure for me to read a review of my book from someone who has really engaged with it, or a discussion on a blog or website about the themes in the book. A big surprise for me was to find that there are people out in the big wide world talking about my work, often quite unbeknown to me. I’ve quoted Dr Johnson before on this blog saying: ‘A writer only begins a book, a reader finishes it.’ And that quote has been brought to life for me by the articles that have appeared on my book like the ones:
Here
And here
And here

You will have to market your book

Chris Hill, Waterstones signingI suspect a lot of soon to be authors will think what I thought – once you have a publisher they will handle the marketing of your book and you can get on with the writing. Unfortunately that’s not true. Publishers, large and small, have a lot of books coming out and not much time to promote them.

A publisher will only accept your book if they love it, and of course they will do everything they can to promote it but the truth is, unless you want your baby to disappear without trace you have to take responsibility for letting the world know about it. This means putting a lot of time, work and effort doing things like building up your presence on social media (in my case I had to build it up from absolute zero). It might also mean writing a blog like this one, taking part in interviews both on and offline, writing guest articles for other people’s websites, appearing pretty much anywhere they will have you. And so on. Which brings me to my final point.

You will be really busy!

You have all the writing to do that you had before of course, and all the querying of agents and publishers. But now you also have a blog to write, Facebook and Twitter accounts to update, readers to interact with and so on. Of course – that’s what you signed up for – so let’s not grumble about it! After all, the alternative is that you didn’t get published – and then you’d still be trying to make it happen.

Song of the Sea God visualDon’t forget if you get a moment to take a look at my book Song of the Sea God.

You can look inside to read the first few pages free and download a free Kindle sample for UK readers here. And for readers in the USA here.

32 thoughts on “Six more things I’ve learned as a published author”

  1. This could have been co-written!!! Hahaha. ABSOLUTELY!!! The friends one makes (yourself included) are amazing ..but then it is a 2 way street …. the lack of money…the self-promotion…. and the ‘next book syndrome! I am pushing the idea that I’m doing a sequel because it IS a way to get published. Meanwhile 2 other ”chickliity” books have been rejected by another publisher..despite me being up for a major award. It’s life, Chris ….. but would we want it any different?

    1. Hmm – it’s hard to say about different – I think some things will change, and are changing because the self publishing revolution looks like it might tip the balance of power towards writers and away from publishers and agents. But it is also making it harder to get a book noticed because it’s such a crowded field.

  2. Carol is absolutely right, we are all on the same bus! It’s a lovely bus though and you meet a better bunch of people on it. Which brings me neatly to my request. I enjoy your posts so much and am loving ‘The Song of the Sea God’ I wondered if you would be interested in being a guest on our blog http://www.anitajaydawes.net as I’m sure many others would love to meet you too!
    Anita and Jaye (it would link to our WordPress site too)

  3. Totally right. Far too many start out thinking that a) it is all going to fall into their lap, b) getting published will be a doddle c) that’s it, job finished. Oh and riches are guaranteed. Nothing like it. We do it because we have to and accept the extra work and skills we have to learn and undertake. Great article.

  4. Thanks for your helpful insights. My own first effort will be published in the summer. It’s helpful to have words of wisdom from those who have gone before. (My husband is already scanning the Ferrari catalogue. I might just have to disappoint him.).

    1. Ha – each author’s experience will be different of course but I think he can safely put down the catalogue and start scanning the small ads for a second hand bike instead!

  5. Loved this post – It is exactly how I feel too, especially the about people who have read your book and really enjoy it, that really is the most exciting thing for any author.

  6. One of the things I find so interesting – and you’ve made the point yourself – is how far-flung the community of readers and writers really is. Reading your bio, I noticed you live in Gloucester. Although I am a Yank, I went to school in Cirencester and lived in South Cerney. Of course, that was years ago, but still.

    This is where Graham Chapman barges in, telling the music master to turn off that confounded Disney music…no one wants to hear, “It’s a small world,” after all.

    All the best,

    MD

    1. Well greetings from Gloucestershire! I hope you have fond memories of the place, I was in Cirencester only the other week. Yes, it’s become a smaller world due to social media – which is an incredible thing for authors – there’s no way on earth I’d have readers in the USA without it, that’s for sure!

    1. Thanks Sabrina – I’m sure you will get lucky with yours soon, you seem to work really hard with your blog and social media and so on and, as we know, the harder you work the luckier you get!
      Thanks re the book – next one due out in Feb, can’t wait 🙂

  7. Really great advice Chris… as I find myself embarking on this journey, I’ve realised that while I write alone, I am never truly alone. There’s always someone one step ahead to offer advice and this is just great. On the days when it’s not going so well I imagine myself in a similar picture to one you posted promoting your book! …One day… one day soon I hope!

    1. Thanks MJ – that support is the joy of social media and the internet for writers isn’t it? I also feel supported by writers further down the road than me. It’s all a journey I suppose and each stage has its upsides and downsides. Good luck with your work and I’m sure your publication will come soon!

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