When I first started this journey I thought that everything would be all ponies and rainbows. I was so wrong! So here is a list of 10 things I wish I had known when I first began this journey. I hope this helps someone!
- If you *think* you are done with your novel, you are wrong! I don't know how many times I told my friends that I was almost done, but then over a year later I was still working on it. Writing is rewriting and editing. Until you have a solid release date with the final version uploaded, you are not really done. It may seem like the finish line is always moving because it is!
- Your writing is crap. At least that is what you will tell yourself a billion times before you publish. It doesn't mean your final product will suck. The first draft or two of anything is awful in comparison to the final product. Don't listen to your self doubt! Use the Pee Wee Herman defense, "I know you are but what am I?"
- Writing a novel is much harder. Flash fiction and shorter stories can be rewarding and feel easy to write. Novels are a completely different beast. My novel weighs in right around 60K words which in some genres would be considered a short story (Looking at you Epic Fantasy). Writing a story of that length still presents quite a challenge. With a shorter story it is easy to stick to the main points in the beginning and ending without much filler. In a longer form the middle takes up a much larger portion of the book. You need side quests for the extra XP and Level Up. In speaking with other people who write, the middle is what everyone seems to struggle with like a baby smashing their first birthday cake. It is like trying to push a boulder up a mountain of butter while it's raining.
- Writing is work! If you want your writing to matter then you have to put in the work. It is just as much a grind as anything else. The harder you work, the more you write, the more research you do, etc... Everything helps make your work better. If you don't put the work in then it will show. Butt in chair, fingers on the keyboard! *cracks whip*
- Blogging has many benefits! It doesn't matter if people show up to read it. Although one of the benefits is to help build an audience. That doesn't mean the people who enjoy your blog will support your professional life. Writing on your blog can help you get thoughts out and work through problems. It is also a great opportunity to practice your craft. Every word you write is practice for every word you write after that. Just don't call your blog your friend so you can say you have a friend with benefits, that's creepy.
- Social Media is not for promotion! Even if you hate all of the social media outlets, writers need to get on them. Everyone has heard the stories of things going viral and people making money through some form of magic. Well none of this works that way! Social media is for interaction with others. Spamming people with links will cause them to stuff their ears with cheese and duct tape their eyes shut to avoid it. Think about it. If you run up to random people at the mall saying "BUY MY BOOK" repeatedly then you might get tackled by a mall cop.
- Lists will save your sanity on Twitter. Twitter is by far my favorite of all the social media outlets. Once you follow a lot of people it is impossible to keep up with all of those tweets. The best way to do that is to separate them into smaller groups by using lists. Then you can check each list as if it were a completely different Twitter account. If I could go back in time, I would have told myself to start building lists from the start.
- Other authors are super helpful! Make connections with other authors and bloggers. They will be the ones most likely to help when you need it and you WILL need help. They are the ones who are most likely to understand the problems you face as they have probably already faced them before. If you feel like you're losing your mind and want to stab someone, there is another author out there that has been there and knows how to hide the body. No one has all the answers though. Sometimes it's like we're all stumbling around in the dark, but at least other authors are willing to hold your hand while you stumble.
- Unfinished ideas/stories will haunt you! I have so many ideas and a few stories that don't feel finished. These keep me up at night. I have an idea notebook that I keep nearby to write down these ideas. It's the only way to get the voices in my head to shut up! Yesterday I came up with 2 new story ideas and I couldn't concentrate at work until I wrote them down.
- Formatting is super easy! I made the formatting of my novel more complicated than it needed to be. There are a ton of online tutorials for KDP formatting that will lead you down the road of confusion and wanting to burn everything. That includes the tutorials on the KDP website which look as if they were written in ancient Aramaic. Even for someone who comes from a programming background it was hard to make sense of it all. I got a version to look great in Calibre, but when I tried to upload it KDP rejected it! The Horror! However, there are many tutorials for formatting a novel in Word which are very easy to follow and work on the first try! Amazon's conversion tools are very good as long as you prepare the Word document properly.
Be sure to check out Virtual Wars: Booting Up, a collection of prequel stories to my first novel. It is available for pre-order right now with the release date of Friday 10/28/16. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M6V05AT
The first novel in the Virtual Wars series, titled Initialization, has a release date of Tuesday 11/22/16. One lucky person who has signed up for my newsletter will receive a free copy. You can sign up for the newsletter here: http://brianbasham.blogspot.com/p/blog-page_29.html