What is something you wish you’d known when you first started writing, is an interesting question. It can pertain to my craft or career.
I’d like to hit a point or two on both. There a lot of things I wish I knew when I started in this crazy business. Some things seem rather simple and like everyone should know. The thing is, not everyone knows those simple things.
One craft thing I wish I knew when I started writing was finding a beta reader. This probably seems simple. Duh, have someone else read it before you send it. But I didn’t know that. I *assumed* authors wrote something, sent it to an editor and poof! They were published. Yes, I knew the editors did work on the MS, don’t get me wrong. But I had no idea there should be beta readers in the mix. I also didn’t know you have to be SUPER touchy about who beta reads for you. I don’t mean finding someone who will tell you the story is great. That won’t help you at all. I mean, finding someone you can trust. See, that trust thing, another thing I didn’t know right off, is something you need. If you can’t be sure that person won’t be truthful and not steal your work, then you probably shouldn’t be working with them.
On the career front… I have a couple thoughts here. One is never ever engage, especially to the negative, with reviewers. Now, I’ll admit, I do engage with some reviewers. Why? I’ve met them in person or they’re fun people. That’s no biggie. I don’t expect reviews from them, and if I get them, fine. What I’m talking about is the negative stuff. There will always be people who don’t like your work. You can write the greatest novel out there, but someone will hate it. That’s life. What I learned very early in my career is don’t engage. Seriously. Don’t. Why? You might think, if I’m nice and talk it out with them, they might change their mind. That’s probably not going to happen because they aren’t reviewing YOU. They’re reviewing YOUR BOOK. Second, brow beating them because they said your book wasn’t fabulous only makes you look bad. Reviews are there for criticism—constructive or otherwise. If you don’t want to look at negative reviews or they aren’t constructive (Like saying your work is crap and you should never write again), then don’t. I didn’t know that was a thing. I thought authors should clamor for any and all reviews. You can, but you don’t have to.
Another career thing I came to understand and wish I’d known to start with is this is a crazy business and connections are vital. But it’s also a SLOW business. It’s not quite as slow now that self-publishing is in vogue, but if you’re with a publisher, don’t expect the book to come out tomorrow. It won’t. It takes time for edits, cover art, final edits… It’s not all fast. Oh, and promotion is mostly on you. I wish I’d have known that. I might have done financing a little differently. But again, that’s on my end. I should’ve known. Right?
Those are some things I wish I knew when I set out in this business. I don’t regret making the leap to becoming a published author. I love what I do. But it might have been nice to know where the potholes were before I hit them and wrecked a few tires.