It’s been a just over a year since The Deep End released. One year. Three hundred and sixty-five plus lessons about publishing. Here are six of them.
The first lesson: I woke up on February 17, 2015 expecting confetti cannons and champagne. I traipsed down the stairs, poured my morning coffee, and waited for something marvelous to happen…and waited. I spent the day in front of my computer, replying to blog posts, stalking Amazon numbers, and secretly hoping that the damned cannon would just explode already. When Guaranteed to Bleed released in October, I was ready. I made sure I had a celebration planned. The lesson? Having a book published is an accomplishment. Celebrate that accomplishment even if you have to buy your own champagne.
The second lesson: There are countless “experts” who are thrilled to tell authors the secrets to selling books—often for a price. Social media sells books. Social media doesn’t sell books. You must blog. Blogs are dead. Take all advice with a grain of salt. The author who swears Facebook ads are a waste may have created an amateurish ad without a clear call to action. The author who claims a hundred newsletter signups a day may be exaggerating. The lesson? There are two. What sells one book won’t move a single copy of another. Find a couple of social media outlets that are comfortable and forget the rest.
The third lesson: Write. There are so many variables in publishing and authors control only one of them—the quality of the next book. The lesson? Write a good book.
The fourth lesson: No one in your regular life—not your soulmate, your best friend since first grade, or your mother—will understand stalking Amazon numbers, the thrill of a positive editorial letter, the agony of editing, or the stake through the heart of a bad review like another author. The lesson? Your writer friends are priceless. They will keep you sane. Mine are called to action often.
The fifth lesson: Your editor is your friend. True, that friendly feeling may not be evident when you’re reading a revision letter that twists your guts into unholy yoga poses. But—trust me on this—you both want the same thing, the best possible book. The lesson? Read revision letters then put them away for a day or two. Ponder. Consider. And, if there’s still something you completely disagree with, talk. Publishing a book is a collaboration, not a dictatorship.
The sixth lesson: On February 17, 2014, I hoped to one day be published. Two years later, I’ve seen three books make their way into the world. This year I will see another three. It is all too easy to get caught up in deadlines and word counts and editing. The lesson? Remember your dream and take time to savor your successes.
Julie’s latest Country Club Murder is Guaranteed to Bleed. Her next one, Clouds in My Coffee, releases May 10, 2016.