I’m often asked what advice I would give to writers just starting out. The question always leaves me stumped with my mouth gaping open like a fish. What kind of advice could I possibly give to writers? In the past, I’d mumble something and quickly move on to the next question. In the past few months, though, I’ve realized I do have an answer to the question. Because I’ve spent the past months doing things I should have done at the start of my writing career. So, here’s my advice – start where you want to end up.
What the heck do I mean by that? It’s simple, really. Set up your writer business as a professional from the get go. Here are some examples:
Newsletter. When I started a newsletter, I went with MailChimp. It seemed like a no-brainer – you can have up to 2,000 subscribers for free. BUT you can’t do any of the fancy things like have a on-boarding sequence or divide your list into different groups. I don’t need that, I thought. Well, let me tell you, at some point you will need all that fancy functionality. I know what you’re thinking – I’ll just change over when I need it. Take it from someone who spent an entire month switching from MailChimp to MailerLite (more on that in the coming weeks), DON’T DO IT.
Amazon categories. When you publish your novel on KDP, you are allowed to choose two categories. Turns out you can actually have your novel put into ten (10!) categories. I thought this wasn’t a big deal and let it slide. Then, I suddenly found myself with almost twenty published novels and wanted to add them all to more categories. It’s recommended that you only add one new category a day (don’t want to anger the Amazon gods), which meant it took me months to get my books added to the categories they belonged in.
Covers. Get it right the first time! Do not go for the easy solution. Spend some time – a LOT of time – researching your genre to discover the types of covers readers of the genre expect. Do not do like I did and make covers you like that don’t sell. Trust me, you will lose sales. (More on book covers and all the mess ups I did here and here)
Editor. You absolutely, positively no doubt about it must have an editor review your novel before publishing. No matter how great your English is or how educated you are, you will miss things and make mistakes. Trust me, I know. I published my first two novels after only doing self-editing. Those bad reviews due to poor editing will never disappear. Plus, you lose potential readers of your future books by publishing a poor product.
Website. Research website providers. Stalk other authors and see what provider they are using. When I started my website, I had already built a website for my B&B. Naturally, I thought I knew what I was doing. *Slaps forehead* I had no idea. Every business has different needs. For example, I didn’t have a blog for my B&B website. When I wanted to add a blog to my writer website, I had to add functionality. I had no idea what I was doing and it showed.
Blurb. The mistakes I’ve made with blurbs. *Shakes head* I recommend listening to podcasts and reading blog posts about how to write a blurb. I didn’t do this. Of course, not! I know how to write a summary. Why would I need to study blurb making? Um, because a blurb is completely different than a summary.
So, that’s it. My advice to starting writers or, as I like to call it, the list of many of my beginner mistakes. Beginner’s luck. Nah. That I know nothing about.