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Advice for First-Time Authors

Now that I've released my fourth book into the world, and later this year, I will be releasing my fifth, I thought I'd do a post about things I wish I'd known when I wrote my first book. Call it, maybe, advice for first-time authors. These aren't writing tips, but rather, things I wish I'd known about the publishing industry, selling books, getting feedback, and just being an author in general. So, here goes. Here are my top few bits of advice for new or emerging authors.

1. Not everyone will be as excited about your book as you.

-This one so much. When I was a brand new author with a shiny and new copy of my first ever book in my hands, I was so excited to get it out and into the world. But guess what? Not everyone held that same excitement. In fact, most people didn't care at all. Not one iota. I've had to work REALLY hard at getting attention for my novels, even the one I didn't publish on my own. The book industry is extremely over-saturated and there are a lot of books out there.

2. Not everyone will like your book.

-This one was hard because bad reviews hurt and hurt a lot. I've had so many positive reviews over the years. But I've also had some not so good ones that I've had to forget about and remember that my book is not for everyone and that's okay! I don't like all the books and your book will not be for everyone either! There are going to be many, many people who like your writing, but there will probably be just as many who don't. Prepare yourself for that. Criticism can be hard. I've tried to learn from it and grow as a writer from it. I believe my writing has changed and improved a lot, but this doesn't mean it's for everyone.

3. You probably won't make much money.

-These are just the facts. The old term "poor writer" rings true for many of us, and that's because we have to share royalties with publishers, agents (if you have one), retailers, and so many places! That leaves us making just pennies per book! Yes! Pennies. It's a hard truth to swallow. But swallow it now. Unless you're one of the very few lucky ones to get major book deals and movie deals, you'll be one of us who are in the "poor writer" club. Join the club. We're awesome.

4. If you decide to send queries to agents and publishers, prepare yourself for rejections and lots of them.

-I've been writing books now for about 10 years, and in those 10 years, I've sent out probably 200 queries. I've learned a thing or two in that time, which if I'd have known in the beginning would've saved me a lot of rejections in the long run. But even now, I still get rejections. I get a lot of requests too, but this is a very subjective business. So, if you decide to send queries, prepare yourself for rejection. It's hard. It hurts. But remember, they aren't saying your work is crap. They're saying it's not for them. They may even be saying it's not for them at this time. I've received a lot of positive feedback from my queries which has helped me a tremendous amount.

5. Don't ever... and I mean EVER, base your value and talent as a writer on sales.

-Book sales fluctuate. Trends fluctuate. Vampires were the "thing" for a few years. Then it was werewolves and memoirs. Just because your sales drop doesn't mean your writing sucks. It means the trends have changed. Keep on, my friends. Keep on. Writing is what we do.

And that's it. That's my best advice for new authors. Had I known these things, I would've shed fewer tears and felt much differently about my books and my writing over the years. I hope it helps you!

-Meg S.


This article may not be used in part or in its entirety without the author's written consent.

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