In today’s post, I am going to talk expectations here because many writers need a reality check–or some need to be reminded of essential things before going either the traditional or the self-publication route. I am not here to talk about which route is better or the goods and bads of either route. I am simply here to tell you what to expect when you go either route so you don’t jump in blindly thinking you don’t need to do much.
Let me start with expectations for the traditional route. I will have to touch on the expectations of the other route in another post.
Don’t expect it to be easy. That is such obvious advice, but many writers are flummoxed by a few rejections, and I just think ‘Expect your average to be around 50 or 100 before you land an acceptance. Also, expect that the agent or editor may not even be looking at your work. It is very possible a slush pile reader or an intern is looking at it first. You might even be going at it for a year or two for one book.’ For my literary magazine, I am the one doing the final vetting so the ones Mariah rejects (Executive Editor Extraordinaire) probably haven’t even been looked at by me. Don’t be upset. It saves time so you’re not waiting even longer than you would be without those readers and interns, and the slush pile readers or interns or whoever do have some skill in knowing what works and what doesn’t or else they would not have been chosen.
Also, even if you do hire an editor to work on your novel and that editor gets back quickly, expect it take a little while longer before you can start querying or whatever because if you find a good editor, that editor will tear your manuscript to shreds. I know many writers who hire editors, the editors get back to them within a month, and the writers are subbing the next month. That tells me either the editor didn’t do a good enough job or the writers were in such a hurry they didn’t bother really delving into their editors’ critiques (and some just work super hard, but many writers do have other jobs). Because a good editor will make you reconsider your story. It is very rare a writer can implement an editors’ suggestions flawlessly (it does happen but not a lot of writers can do it. Writing is a process, after all).
Now, of course, if you find a critique group and that critique group is just dang good, an editor might not have to tear your book to shreds. In which case, you probably don’t need one. You might just want one for proofreading.
This next point ruffles my skin in many ways because I can’t believe the nauseating naivety of even those writers who do study the market. Many will choose the traditional route because they don’t want to do the marketing themselves. Well, guess what? You’ll probably have to. Unless you’re a big name or your book has money-making promise, you might have to do it yourself.
I dare you to go into a bookstore and show me a book the author didn’t have to market him/herself. Many books I never would have heard of unless I scrounged through the bookshelves. Many books I would not have heard of without the authors marketing the books themselves. Oh, sure, some books get marketing bonus points because they’re shoved to the front at your chain bookstore, but that might not be your book. Most authors are mid-listers, and those ones will have to do the grunt work of marketing themselves.
So have a website, make sure it has a good following a year before publication; Twitter your fingers raw; Facebook, with a fan page; join writers’ forums and prepare to be involved in those; blog tours are amazing; press releases; perhaps your publisher will set you up with book signings, or you’ll have to set them up yourself; be prepared for the verity you may have to spend your advance on marketing. Some smaller presses have marketing packages, but you’ll still have to be involved in social media. Regardless of how much a publisher helps you or not, expect to have a presence in social media unless you’re rich and can hire an assistant to do that for you.
Now if you’re the lucky one with an entire package from your swanky publisher, the above is not for you. In any case, have any expectations to add, feel free to comment. I’ll have the next post tomorrow.