#009 - Ten questions for the new novelist
OK. You are planning to be a novelist. That is someone prepared to commit to writing 100,000 words or so, take a year out of your life and more if you are a working mum or dad; the type with three kids, a mortgage and a job that forces you to work unsocial hours.
It's tough ... and here's a bit of 'tough love' that may hopefully bring some reality to the whole process as you take these inevitable steps along the way. At each step, ask yourself the right question. If you can give the right answer, you will have made the decision to get that fantastic story down on paper, the one that's been rattling round your head for years..!
Step 1: Question: It's not all about YOU... is it?
So, you think you are a fantastic writer and any agent or publisher who does not agree with your own assessment of your work, is probably a 'Jealous Jane'. You are convinced your literary offering is bound to be a world-wide best seller, if they would only just get on and publish the damn thing!
It may be difficult to accept but agents and publishers are experienced professionals who READ for a living and if your work is simply not good enough, they will move on to the next submission. Don't beat yourself up about it. Just suck it up and focus on the next submission. This time make sure the manuscript is sharper, neater and even faster paced (if it's a thriller) and your synopsis is an attention grabber from line one.
Step 2: Question: Can you really write..??
No, don't laugh ... it's a fair question. Get your work read by someone who reads a lot, especially someone who has an interest in the genre and category your proposed book will generally fall in to. It may even pay you to obtain a professional opinion of your work. It will cost you some money ... but could be well worth it.
There are quite a few contacts on the Internet of course and quotes will normally be by the page, assuming an A4 or Letter format and double spaced size 12 font. For basic editing, you can expect to pay $30 to $40 an hour at a rate of 5 to 10 pages an hour. Heavy editing can halve the page rate and put the fee up to $40 to $50 an hour. By the way, these prices are a rough guide only at the time of writing.
Step 3: Question: Is writing all you do.?
If the answer to that is Yes, then you may have a problem. The modern writer ... the modern E-Book Writer like you ... will need more skill sets than simply knowing your way around Microsoft Word. You need to know about building simple web sites, editing in .html perhaps, conversion of a collection of file formats, cover design graphics and promoting your work on social media and the Internet.
If you are to be a successful E-Book Writer, publishing your own work, then you will need to acquire these skills ... and more ... to make an impression on the self publishing or electronic book market. If you do not have such talent, then make sure you have a 'best friend' who has.
Step 4: Question: Are you a 'one trick pony'...?
If you do pursue the self publishing on-line route to authorship success, then all the best advice in the world, provided by those who have already done it, is to make sure you have more than one work to publish at the start.
You may say that writing several 100,000 word novels is a substantial task to commit yourself to before publishing on line, but those who have encountered success, have mostly had more than one work to put out there when they started. You will need to think about this one carefully and maybe look at some options provided here.
Step 5: Question: Are you writing to sell..?
In your own mind of course, every word you write is commercial and readers will be flooding Amazon with so many orders the day your new novel is released, the website itself will crash in overload.
Unfortunately, we can guarantee that this will not be the case. The most popular self published e-book categories still remain thriller, mystery and then romance. Producing a character that has 'legs' and can be the central figure in a series of novels in episodic format is a popular way to go. Self help books are always a winner, but make sure you really do know 'How To Do It' before publishing and then suffering a hundred emails a day telling you to check your facts!
Step 6: Question: Are you writing an epic?
Hopefully not! The 250,000 word blockbuster will represent maybe years of work to get to a publishing point, but beware, as this effort may only see you receiving 70% of a title price of $9.99, and unless you are lucky enough to sell 'squillions' of copies you will not see a sensible reward for all your hard work. If you are going to make money from selling e-books on line at prices from $2.99 to $4.99, then you need to produce more of them than if you were fortunate enough to have a hard copy publishing deal where every man and his 'dad' within the publishing company are working their socks off to sell your masterpiece for you.
You may only end up with say 15% of the title price, but that 'price' could well be over $29.99 initially ... and then there are the translation sales in twenty or so countries to consider. So, the simple answer is to produce more work. For the e-novelist the way to go is to produce shorter novels and publish them more frequently.
The choice is yours, but if you need to make a living as an E-Book Writer and Paperback Novelist, then you need to get the work out there on a regular basis.
Step 7: Question: What about quality?
Quality over Quantity! Is what we have just said about to be contradicted? No. The best sellers of just about everything put a high value on quality. So even if you are now producing five or six books, but shorter books each year, they still need to be of sustainable quality.
Who initially decides what 'Quality' really is? You do. You know what is good enough and what is not. Be hard on yourself in the edit, check the final output carefully and be proud to have your name attached to it. That's the very best quality assurance guarantee you can wish for.
Step 8: Question: Who knows my Book is out there?
one, unless you market it. Fortunately, there is the Internet and a raft of
Social Media to help you along the way, and mostly, they are all FREE.! If you want to
become an e-book author, you will have to work hard in between your 'authoring'
phases. You need a website or at least a blog to direct your readers to. You
need a Twitter and Face Book account to tell the world you are part of it allowing
your reading public to follow you. Maintaining these platforms can be time
consuming, but it's a lot cheaper than employing a PR agency, and a lot more
cost effective. But don't forget the real plus ... It's FREE!
Step 9: Question: Selling. Is this the really hard part?
This is the really hard part, but the general message is to get your work out
on as many platforms as possible. Don't stop at Amazon when there is Barnes
& Noble for example. Seek out the numerous on-line e-book platforms through
the Internet and choose wisely, but choose you must to get the coverage you
need to launch your work.
Step 10: Question: Have you got the time for it?
If not, then don't do it. To make a success of self-publishing e-books or paperbacks will take the same dedication and determination as sending endless manuscripts to Agents and Publishers. If you are committed, and if you work very, very hard, you will achieve success. Therefore there is nothing left to say on the subject other than ... Good Luck.!