Today I am appearing at Bunny's Review. She asked me some intriguing questions about the ins and outs, nuts and bolts, of being an author. One question she asked was what advice I would give to a new author.
As I was pondering her question, I received an email from an author who had recently written two books. She wrote each draft and then contacted me about selling her books at an upcoming writers conference I chair. When I responded that the event was just six months away and she didn't yet have a publisher, she replied that she knew she would have one and both books would be published within the next three months.
While it's certainly possible for an author to self-publish quickly, this author was wanting to go the traditional route. I knew from reading her emails that she was in for a real wake-up call.
The best thing a new author can do is learn as much about the publishing industry as humanly possible.
Step One is to write the best book you can possibly write.
Step Two is to edit, edit, and edit some more.
Step Three: get to a professional editor. Do NOT assume because your mother, sister, brother, father, best friend enjoys reading that they are qualified to edit your work.
Once your book is the best you can possibly make it, edit until you are sick of it. Maybe then it will be ready for an agent or a publisher.
Learn how long it takes for publishers to read your work, seriously consider it and then get it into the production schedule. For example, suppose you have an agent and he or she sends your book to one of the large publishing houses. And suppose the editor loves it. That editor does not have total authority to offer you a contract. He or she must present the book to a committee comprised of editors, sales and marketing staff, production personnel - and he or she must convince them that your book is worthy of the $75,000 price tag it will cost them to produce it. If they're convinced, it could take two years for it to arrive on a bookshelf.
Mid-size publishers and smaller publishers can operate more quickly. Because they have smaller staffs, one editor can often decide on a book project. But it still takes time to go through the production schedule - the editing, typesetting (even though it's been streamlined by importing text from a word processing document to a professional typesetting software), graphics design, printing and don't forget the complete marketing plan.
When you try to rush into getting your book into everyone's hands as quickly as possible, you're setting yourself up for less-than-stellar results.
Find out what else we talked about at Bunny's Review and leave me a comment on what you would advise a new author!