Author Etiquette - There Are No Shortcuts in Publishing

by Jennifer 26. July 2017 15:01

Today we are going to talk about something the more experienced writers already know; however, there’s a lot of new authors out there who desperately need to hear this.

 

There’s no F’n shortcuts in publishing.

There’s no magic formula for writing a bestseller. No easy way to make it to the top of the list. There’s a lot of work, time and effort involved in creating GOOD stories.

 

And there are however a lot of people trying to scam you out of your hard-earned money.

 

Take for instance, a publisher that guarantees your book will be accepted and placed in bookstores across the nation, for the low price of a few thousand bucks.

 

Or the Fiverr “editor” who does a few simple find and replace of a few things, has it back to you in just a few hours, then tells you that your work is ready for publication.

 

Or the “How I Earned $40K On One Book” instruction manual that someone put up on Amazon. Sure you bought it for $100, but it’s filled with stuff you can find on the internet for free.

 

Or the “graphic designer” who charged $50 for a book cover, that either doesn’t look right now that you’ve inserted it into (insert self pub venue here) or you discover it’s an exact copy of someone else’s cover.

 

Or … You get the picture right?

 

But it isn’t just publishers, editors, and artists that scam people. There’s a lot of authors who run scams out there too.

 

Like the author who copies someone else’s book, does a few find and replace name swaps and some minor plot changes then tosses it up on (insert self pub venue.)

 

Or the ones who use click farms to increase their page reads.

 

Or the authors who fill the first few pages with a somewhat decent story then you discover what amounts to cats sitting on keyboards.

 

Or the authors who give presentations on how to do X (usually something to do with publishing), but it’s really just a 30 minute pitch to buy their book.

 

And so on and so forth.

 

News flash. Publishing is work, and if you are going to succeed, you need to accept there’s no fast way to get to the top.

 

There are a few authors who seem very successful from the very start. They get lots of professional sales seemingly right off the bat, but what you don’t know is they’ve been writing stories for nearly twenty years, or have studied creative writing for the past ten. Or that they’ve got a stack of rejections and false starts taller than a house. They just hadn’t been published in some of the higher ranking publications before.

 

A vast majority of the writers out there start at the very bottom with poor grammar, purple prose, and wandering verb tenses. They have cardboard characters and the stories they write are probably very similar to the first few that you’ve written. And they too probably thought that what they wrote was excellent, and worthy of publication. But if you ask any of them now, they’d probably cringe and tell you that those stories sucked. And they probably do.

 

Becoming an author is a process. It’s a lot of learning, research, self-reflection, doubt and, hopefully at some point or another, success. It’s not something that you can learn out of a book in just a few days. It’s also not something that’s going to make you loads of cash right off the bat. It’s a series of growth spurts—sometimes quite painful—that pushes you forward with each story, critique, professional edit, and class and helps make you someone that writes something other people would like to read.

 

And I admit, it’s scary and long and hard and complicated. Having your work torn apart by a better writer is heart-wrenching. Seeing the flaws in your grammar, characters, and plot structures can be disheartening. Knowing that you are probably going to have to completely rewrite a story that you love, because it stinks, can put out the creative fire in even the most hearty soul.

 

But your next piece will be better for all of that. The story itself stronger. The characters more relatable to your readers. There are things that even the newest writer out there can do to help make them more successful.

 

Learn the Rules of Grammar, Spelling and Punctuation.

This really should be a no brainer, but it is. Even if you did poorly in school, it doesn’t give you an excuse not to learn how to use words, how to spell them, and to use proper punctuation. Start with the simple stuff like basic noun-verb sentences and build up from there. Learn when to use commas, periods and exclamation points. Spell-check can be your friend, but it can also cause you to use the wrong word. Some great places to assist you are Purdue OWL, Butte.edu Tipsheet, and other sites.

 

Get a Thick Skin.

Publishing, especially at first, is round after round of rejection. It’s not personal when an editor turns down your story. It’s not personal when a beta reader or editor finds a dozen plot holes in your novel. It’s not personal when a reader only gets through the first few chapters before putting a book down, saying “It’s not for me.” Have a few tears if you really need to, but either resubmit that story to another market, or write something better. Don’t sit around moping because those rejections, critiques and reviews are there to help you become better.

 

Research - Get Used to It.

You may not want to spend hours or even weeks researching particular elements of your story or novel but for accuracy’s sake you had probably resign yourself to the fact that details are important. And if you are writing certain genres, those details can be very, very important. Editors will point out inconsistencies and so will readers. You really don’t want to be on the wrong end of readers picking apart your story because of either science or historical details that can easily be found out with a bit of research.

 

Not only that, but you have to research markets, editors, publishers and even contracts. Don’t ever take anyone at their word, even if it’s your best buddy. Remember that the only person who can protect you and your work IS you. Make sure that any publishers you consider submitting to are legit. Check the credentials of an editor that you hire. Short story markets open and close regularly so be sure to read the guidelines. If you want to take a class, be sure that lecturer is someone you want to learn from and has professional credits to their name.

 

Always Remember Yog’s Law.

Money should always flow to the writer (Yog’s Law.) Except for instances where you contract out work such as cover creation, editing and formatting (mostly for self publishing), publishers should always give the author money. If a publisher asks for money to cover printing, distribution and publicity costs, DO NOT SIGN WITH THEM. This is a common scam, even if they are offering the moon on a silver platter. Many an author has spent thousands of dollars on a book and received only minimal if any returns.

 

No One Owes You Anything.

You have to make your own way in the publishing world. Sure you might be besties with award-winning authors and editors, but it doesn’t mean you can use that as leverage. Unless said author personally urges you to submit to their publisher or agent, it’s a big faux-pas to use Big Author’s Name for favors. This includes getting other people to read your work, trying to elbow your way into projects, or getting people to grant you special favors. If you work hard and are polite, people will begin to notice you on their own for your own merits. This creates much stronger friendships which could lead to open doors later on.

 

I know this is a let down to newer authors, but it is the truth. Becoming an author takes time, effort and sometimes money (as in taking classes). It’s not something that happens overnight. For most authors it takes years.

 

So be patient, don’t take shortcuts, and learn all you can, because it will make you a much better writer in the end.

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