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Sunday, 18 May 2014

Persevere, follow your dream and don't ever give up

Life events for me over the past month have led to some deep self reflection about what I want from life and why I write. How I came to writing, in some ways before I was truly ready to be published. Certainly, before I had a wide knowledge of the publishing business, and I did not  appreciate the opportunity of being contracted on my first submission.

My first book which began my journey remains two and a bit years later, my top selling book.
Holiday Affair changed my life, although my sweet romance...Tangling with the CEO is fast catching up.
 Romance Abroad three Affairs books in one
Romance Abroad three Affairs books in one

Over the past three years I have learned much about this business while I have continued to write. Fifteen books later... (Some are in edits and will be published in 2015, you can see them all on the widget on the right of this page)

  •  I have been published by three different publishers. 
  •  I have also self published.
  •  I have had several books on Amazon best seller lists.
  •  I now have the pleasure of hearing from readers every day.
  •  I have edited for three different e-publishers.
  • I have worked as a publicist for a boutique publisher, .
  •  I have edited for many authors as a freelance editor...and over ninety-five percent of those authors have since been published after I have edited their manuscript and advised them on structure.

Over the past few days I have been touched by  Facebook posts from some aspiring authors who have shown their frustration at remaining unpublished and I wanted to share some words  of encouragement. No matter how hard they have tried, no matter how close they have been to getting picked up after winning competitions, entering pitch sessions on blogs and submitting to a variety of publishers, they have not had that 'call'.

Persevere, follow your dream and don't ever give up, no matter how dispirited you become.

Success in the publishing arena is still defined by many as seeing their print book on a shelf or by gaining the attention of an agent and the 'Big Five'. Some authors aspire to physically 'hold' their book and we still see many photos on social media  where someone has spied their book on a shelf and shared it.

But has digital publishing  redefined success? 

How do we define success in terms of digital publishing and with the huge growth of self publishing? Is it just to be able to say you have been offered a contract?
Is it being picked up by a publisher, not matter how small they are, as long as you are offered a contract? Is success selling just one book to a reader...or getting a five star review? Is it the numbers of copies you sell? Is it having a recognizable name?

From personal experience and the experience of some of my editing clients who have received a contract offer, there are many pitfalls of which to be wary, on this publication journey. Authors who have waited for a long time may grab at a contract offered when they get the 'call'.

I have seen a number of small e-publishers disappear over the three years since I have been a part of this publishing business, and I have seen much despair by authors who have had their rights tied up for years and their books unpublished, and in limbo. Some of my editing clients have managed to get their rights back for books that have been published but not promoted by the very small e-publishers who held the rights in exchange for giving up royalties owed to them.

So for those of you who are still trying to get the call... as long as you are aware of the pitfalls...persevere and...

Keep your passion for writing alive.

The essential ingredient for success is motivation and passion, and belief in yourself.

Hone your craft

Know your grammar, spelling and punctuation. Use style guides.  Learn the basics of good writing. Know the different points of view. Know the difference between show and tell. Polish your work till it shines before you submit it or self publish. Think long and hard about getting your work professionally edited. There are different levels of editing. You can read about them on my editing page.

Be a risk taker

Be creative. There are only so many stories to be told...but depending on the characterization and setting, the same trope can be revisited and tell a very different story each time.

Make your stories character driven and not plot driven

Give your reader something unexpected! Do you remember a story or do your remember the characters? Do you hate leaving your character's lives when you finish your story?

Learn about tropes and ensure you are following the formula for contemporary romance.

As strange as it may sound, the trope must be recognizable by readers even if they don't even know what a trope is. Do you know your tropes and do you know the formula for contemporary romances?

Even before you are published, establish your author brand

The publishing landscape today is dynamic and you must be an interactive participant in the digital world. The new trend of developing personal digital brands is  through blogs and social media sites, such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn  and others. Publishers will 'Google' you, and look for you on Facebook and Twitter as they consider your manuscript.

Don't give up, believe in yourself and keep submitting. 

Research your publishers before you submit and after you are offered a contract.
Remember it is hard work, a quality manuscript and submission to the right publisher that gets the 'call'.

Any other words of encouragement or questions, please feel free to comment below!