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Author of the Night Angel trilogy and The Black Prism

New Writing Advice

(new for March 2015)

What skills have you had to develop as a published author that don’t have to do with writing your novels?

Once you get your deal to get traditionally published, you have to look at that as entering a new phase of your professional life. It’s like being a CEO versus working in the mail room. Well, minus the CEO compensation, golden parachute, and Learjet. You have to decide what you’re going to do, out of thousands of options.

What is your marketing going to look like?

What social media platforms are you going to use?

What content will you put on each of those platforms?

How often will you update your website? Is it a blog? Do you talk about incendiary issues? Do you keep it international?

How much do you pay attention to the analytics? That is, how many “likes” each kind of post gets, what your rankings are on Amazon, what your Bookscan numbers are?

What are your website posts? How many comments does your website get? How many pings and trackbacks? And how much do you care about all of that?

How much do you follow your reviews? How do you deal with it when somebody posts a review that has factual errors? How do you deal with mean-spirited reviews? And sadly, how do you deal even with glowing reviews that compare you with writers you don’t respect at all? How do you deal with glowing reviews that are too glowing?

How do you stay the same person you were, or should you?

How do you deal with your editor when she wants to make changes that you really, really don’t want to make. Especially if this is your first book, and have no clout in this relationship whatsoever? (Imagine working on a film and Steven Spielberg is directing. He suggests some changes. How much are you going to fight him?)

What if you get a cover you hate? What if your agent doesn’t email you back for a week, or two weeks?

How are you going to deal with the emotional trough of your book coming out, there being a bunch of publicity, and then… nothing happens. You walk into a Barnes & Noble and they have tens of thousands of books, and you go to find yours, and there it is. One copy or two. Not face out. And you feel devastated. Or, maybe, there’s an empty slot where six of your books used to be. And every time you visit that bookstore, there’s that empty slot. And you’re like, “For the love of man!! Could you please buy more books? They’re selling out! What the hell is the problem here?”

And then if you’re so lucky, you might get fan mail. How do you respond? And if you’re luckier, maybe you get a lot of fan mail. And soon, your policy of responding to each gets unwieldy. How many original ways can you answer the question, “Are you ever going to make a movie of this book?” (Because you obviously have $100 million with which to make your own movie, right?)

And what do you do when you find your first dedicated troll?

Then, if you’re so lucky, when do you decide to hire a CPA? When do you hire a lawyer? Can you hear that sound? It’s the sound of $20s flying out of your wallet! How do you get one you can trust?

Are you going to set up your own webstore? Are you going to sell your own books? Are you going to be self-published? Everyone says self-publishing is the way these days! Are you going to commission cover art? How are you going to find a good cover artist? How much do you pay those people?

Are you going to go to conventions? Which ones? Just the professional ones? The fan ones? Or the mixed ones? What is your purpose there? Just to have fun? To sell books? To make connections? Who are you trying to make connections with? How mercenary can you be about that?

Then, if you’re even luckier, are you going to hire an assistant? What will they do for you? How much do you pay them? What if they do it wrong? What kind of paperwork do you have to have to hire somebody? How do you do quarterly reports? Can you ask them to bring you coffee, or does that make you a horrible person? Do you set up a 401(k)? Health insurance? How much health insurance is reasonable?

Why is your wallet empty?

Then, oh yeah. Write a book. Faster than those last books when you were just writing books, please.

“Oh, it was all right. But I like his earlier work.”