My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. I’ve seen the publishing business from both sides—with a big-time agent and as an Indie author. So, if you would allow me, I’d like to impart the little bit of wisdom that I have learned along the way.
In this day and age, being an author consists of three things: (1) Writing, (2) Editing, and (3) Marketing. Here are my Ten Tips to Being an Author.
1. Traditional publishing doesn’t save you from the marketing slog.
If you want an agent, then by all means send out query letters. But keep in mind that if you snag an agent and he or she gets you a deal with a publishing house (big or small), you will have to do your own marketing. And be careful of small publishing houses and signing away your rights. I believe Indie is the best way to go. It could take a year or more to find an agent—if ever. In that time you could have published and be selling books. The Martian started out as an Indie book and they made a movie out of it!
2. Read. A lot.
Read, read . . . and then read some more. Read everything you can get your hands on! Reading to a writer is as medical school is to a doctor, as physical training is to an athlete, as breathing is to life. I would suggest reading Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and, of course, Steinbeck, to name but a few. Think of it as taking a writing class.
Reading to a writer is like med school to a doctor, like physical training to an athlete, like breathing to life.Click To Tweet
3. Do your research.
Whether it’s guns, historical figures, or women’s undergarments of the 19th century—know what you are talking about.
That seems obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into people working on their first book who are obsessing over the cover or the title before they’ve written three chapters. You have to have a fire in your belly to tell your story. Anything else and you’re just playing at being an author.
5. Edit. Edit yourself and hire an editor.
Once you’ve written your book and you’re happy with your story, it’s time to tighten it up and edit it. It will be hard, but you’ll have to edit out some of your genius words, phrases, and sentences. Sometimes even whole paragraphs. When I start the editing process, I’ll go through the book at least four times changing things, rewriting things, moving things around, doing whatever it takes to make my story more readable before I call in my editor. This is very important: An author CANNOT edit his or her own work. Yes, you make changes throughout the editing process, but you can read your manuscript a thousand times and not see an egregious error that your editor will see on the first read-through.
6. Don’t be in a rush to publish. Edit some more.
If you can’t afford a professional editor, ask friends and family to help out. Find beta readers online. Get all the help you can. Remember this: The more eyes that read your manuscript, the better. Everyone sees things differently. On subsequent go-rounds, you’ll find that you and your editor will see things that you both had missed. If possible, you want people that will stick with you through the multiple passes of your manuscript that real editing demands. I make every correction when a mistake is pointed out, and I take about 75% of the material revisions (style, flow, etc.) suggested by my editors. When all is said and done, I have gone through my manuscript (making changes) at least twenty times and my editors half that many times. But you, as the author, have the last say. You have to sign off on the final version. The biggest complaint about Indie books is that they are poorly edited. Do not be in a rush to get your book up on Amazon—do it right.
Do not be in a rush to get your book up on Amazon—do it right. #ameditingClick To Tweet
7. You need to market your book.
Now the real fun begins (I’m being facetious), the marketing. I do not know of one author that likes this stage of the game. We all hate it with a passion. But it has to be done. Different things work for different people. If you research this subject online, some sites will tell you that social media is the most important. Others will tell you that reviews are important (which is true). You can advertise, but you’ll probably never see a return on your investment. You can run specials, dropping your price to $0.99 and you’ll see sales. At $0.99 (royalty $0.34), you still won’t make money, but your sales ranking will go up and you’ll get a few reviews. You’ll have to advertise these sales. There are places that will send out an email to their subscribers for as little as $40.00. I usually sell a few hundred books going that route. Choosey Bookworm and Book Gorilla are two of them. You can find more by doing a little research.
8. Contact book bloggers.
There are many lists of bloggers online. The Indie View has a excellent, extensive list. Ask to write a guest post or do an interview instead of asking for a book review. That will make you stand out because book bloggers are inundated daily with requests for reviews. Do your homework. Find their name on their blog and address your request using their first name. Read their “Review Policies” even though you are not requesting a review. You’ll learn if they will host a guest post and what genres they are interested in. It’s hard work; that’s why we all hate marketing. For my first book, I sent out 3,000 requests. Got 300 responses. And ended up selling 7,000 books and getting about 100 reviews just from those 300 guest posts.
9. Get reviews!
Reviews are very, very important. Do whatever you can to get them, short of paying for them. Amazon does not allow paid reviews. If you want family and friends to review your book, ask them to buy it—a “Verified Purchase” review carries more weight.
10. Write some more.
After you do all of the above, sit down and write another book. The creating is where the real joy and satisfaction of the writing process comes from.
About the Author:
Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.
I’m familiar with works by Andrew Joyce and I would say that he definitely practices what he preaches. It’s evident in all his books that he’s a reader and a writer who takes great pride in the end result. I’ve read books by other Indie authors and most are not edited or not well edited, and I found the mistakes very distracting; in one case, I did not finish the book. Also, I’m glad to see the link in his bio to his latest book Yellow Hair which is a most compelling read and my new favorite of all his books. Terrific writer sharing his tips but equally important is his sharing of a wonderful talent for storytelling (all backed up by meticulous research). If you enjoy historical fiction, check him out!
Thanks, Zoe! I’m sure Andrew appreciates the support and vote of confidence.