sufficiently awesome

Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Got Published

Getting published is an experience unlike any other, and although it’s been a rollercoaster ride of awesomeness, there are some rules of the game which I wish I’d known prior to signing on the dotted line.

1. It’s OK to argue with your editor. Encouraged, even. Your editor has one job: to make the story better. Naturally, the author wants this too, which means disagreements are bound to arise. An editor who lets just anything slide isn’t doing their job, but at the same time, the author should have major influence. Arguing means both sides are passionate, and that’s awesome. Think of it as like a stellar collision: when two stars are pulled into each other’s gravitational fields and collide at sufficient speeds, their collective awesomeness coalesces. Out of this exploding nebula of extra-terrestrial excellence, an even brighter, bigger star emerges. Pretty cool, huh?

2. You’re allowed to be embarrassed. It’s a natural reaction to people’s amazement. “You wrote a book?” friends and family exclaim, delighted. You want to refute – less out of modesty than just sheer awkwardness – but they’re having none of it. Everyone is super happy for you, which is nice, of course, but sometimes, their happiness makes you want to curl up under a rock somewhere. Writers are solitary creatures, after all. We dwell in the shadows cast by the light of our computer screens, entertaining ourselves with thoughts of strange and horrible things happening to the people in our heads. (Note: no, we don’t need to be institutionalized.)

3. Marketing is hard… and doesn’t necessarily work. I’m the sort of author who doesn’t mind the odd cover reveal or book tour, but coordinating interviews and guest spots is a mammoth task in itself. And there are no tangible rewards, either, since it’s impossible to know the reasons behind readers purchasing your book. Was it because they liked the cover? Or were they enchanted by the interview in which you gushed about your Celine Dion obsession? Who knows. It’s all part of building your brand, though, which is why I hired a publicist to organize the release day blitz for UNTOUCHABLE.

4. Bad reviews aren’t the end of the world. I suppose I can’t really talk. The lowest review I’ve gotten is four stars, though I’m anticipating an end to the streak any day now. Why? Every author – seriously, every single one – gets lacklustre reviews. It’s nothing to be ashamed or upset about. As a matter of fact, I don’t mind bad reviews provided they’re constructive and offer suggestions. As writers, we’re always improving our craft, and reviews allow our most important critics – readers – to help us do just that. Got a bad review and want to feel better about it? Just head over to Goodreads, click on your favourite book and scroll down til you find the inevitable one-star and two-star reviews. It just goes to show that it’s impossible to please absolutely everyone. (Also, whatever you do, never respond to bad reviews. For that matter, don’t even respond to wonderful ones. It’s unprofessional and kind of stalkerish.)

5. It’s OK to be dissatisfied. I used to think getting an acceptance meant a publisher arriving in a helicopter, six-figure contract in hand. Nowadays, I realise how crazy I was. Most writers dream of publication their entire lives, and when it finally happens, it can be depressingly anti-climactic. That’s fine. Just remember to be grateful for the little milestones – like getting to see your cover for the first time. Or hearing the delighted squeals of readers who received an ARC. Or even just noticing a spike in your Amazon rankings. These are things that all authors get to experience, not just the Big Six elite.

And don’t forget: at the end of the day, you have the privilege of calling yourself an author. Embrace it.