It’s Tuesday, and the Great July Hiatus (which ended up not being much of a hiatus, really, if we’re honest) is OVER! Which means it’s time for another tip or trick!
We talked a lot about writing down our ideas and finishing a project in June… so it seems logical to move on to the “Now What?” question. You’ve finished your book. What do you DO with it?
**Disclaimer: In the following post I am not saying you’re NOT an author if you haven’t finished a book. I’m just moving along with my series which left off with discussing the importance of actually finishing a project! If you are a beginning author simply brimming with ideas, an author struggling with the middle of your first story, or someone stuck at how to write an ending… or anywhere in between… congratulations! You are an AUTHOR!**
Well, that kind of depends on you. The first thing you really need to ask yourself is WHY? Why did you write this book? What do you want to accomplish with it?
Perhaps you simply wrote it for yourself. Maybe this was something you needed to get off your chest and now it’s done. Maybe it’s extremely personal. Maybe you have no desire to share this story with anyone.
Seriously. You can celebrate with a cookie and move on with your life, content in the knowledge that you achieved something few people ever do: you sat down to write a book and finished it. You are an author.
But maybe you do want to share your book. Maybe you don’t want to go through the hassle and effort of polishing it and making it perfect, but maybe you want to let your family and friends read it. That’s great, too! There are several affordable options for doing this that won’t end up with your unpolished book available for everyone to buy on Amazon.
Share your story with those you love. You are an author.
But maybe you want more. Your dreams include the word “published” before the word “author” in your title.
That’s where hopefully this post can help you get started. Because there are a lot of things you need to think about if you want to put your work out there for strangers to read. I’ll dig into these more in the coming weeks, but here are the things you need to focus on next.
5. First chapter
These are the most important things to your book’s success. The order might change slightly depending on who you talk to, but from what I’ve heard and observed and the people I’ve talked to, I believe most authors would list all of these somewhere in their Top Five.
But there’s a moment here you’re not going to like much. Because it’s the thing you need BEFORE these five things can be addressed.
You have to be prepared to accept criticism without getting defensive.
If you can’t do that, you’re not ready.
I’m not saying you need to take every single piece of advice an editor gives you. I’m not saying that at all! But you do have to be able to hear someone give you honest feedback about where your story loses the reader’s attention, which scenes drag, which characters are unenjoyable, where there are gaping plot holes, places where you need to do more research because what you wrote does not make sense, and more.
Find a good editor. If that means you have to save up to pay somebody, then do so. If your book is not worth it to you to make sure it’s the best it can possibly be, how can you ask anyone else to spend money on it to read it? Be kind to your future and potential fans and don’t skimp on this.
Some people will tell you not to let friends and family edit your books. I disagree. I firmly believe that friends and family CAN be good editors, as well. If you know someone who is willing to call you out on places where you can improve, or someone who is nit-picky about grammar, punctuation, spelling, and more… AND they’re willing to work for chocolate… grab onto that person and NEVER LET THEM GO!!! (Or, you know, encourage them by telling them they’re awesome at this and watch them set up an editing business and realize that from now on you’ll probably have to pay them in something more currency-like than 2-pound Reeses Peanut Butter Cups… not that I’m speaking from experience, or anything) haha!
The important thing is to make sure that whoever you get to edit your work is willing to tell you the truth, even if it hurts your feelings. (This works both ways, if you are going to get defensive and hurt and cry a little about their notes… make sure they never know about it. A good editor will make you cry a little. This is healthy and helps your story grow. If they know they make you cry, AND they are a friend or relation, knowing this will make THEM cry and they may decide they love you too much to hurt you again, and you’ll have to find a more expensive editor).
Again, I’m not saying you have to take their advice, agree with their comments, or work every single one of their notes into your story. It’s still YOUR story. But you have to be willing to hear that advice, read those comments, and parse through it to find out what you do agree with, and what you do need to change.
It takes a thick skin to be an author.
But I guarantee you this: wounds from a friend (or editor, or editor-friend) can be trusted. And you would rather take those criticisms from an editor, when you can still change things, than have to deal with a bunch of hurtful reviews from readers who hated your book and don’t care about YOU, either.
So… you’ve written a book. Now what?
Edit. Edit. Edit.
Well… that’s another blog post!