Aspiring Authors Take Note and Learn from My Mistakes

As the 1-year anniversary of the release of my debut novel approaches, I have a lot to reflect on. I am sharing my journey through the self-publishing process in hopes that other aspiring authors will benefit from it. Like so many new authors, I jumped into this with both feet and not a clue what I was doing. I always loved to read and write, so that should have been enough to make me a best selling author right? WRONG.

If I could start all over again the one thing I would do is actually research the publishing industry. Research publishing options and weigh the pros and cons of traditional versus self-publishing. Next, I would sit down and come up with a plan. Being an author is just like running your own business. Yes, I love to write, but having a passion for something does not make you an expert by any means. Anyway, back to my point about it being a business. Anyone and I mean anyone can sit down and write a book. It is also easy for just about anyone to publish his or her work. The hard part is taking the time to do research about the industry and developing a business plan. People ask me all the time was it hard to write a book. My answer is: No, that was the easy part. Everything since that time has been very difficult.

If I had taken more time to research the industry and the process, I would have been more prepared. I rushed from finishing my manuscript to getting books printed without having a solid plan for how I would actually sell my books. *Newsflash* People were not just waiting for my book to come out. Independent bookstores are a dying breed and the large chain bookstores do not accept self-published authors with open arms. Getting readers to take a chance on you, a new author, and spend their hard-earned money to purchase your book is not easy.

One key area that I failed in during my journey of becoming a published author was in editing. It’s funny that before I wrote a book and got smacked around by readers and reviewers about editing issues I never realized how prevalent of an issue this is in the industry today. Yes I did pay for an editor but what I didn’t realize is that there are so many aspects of editing and there are so many people who call themselves editors who have no clue what that means. Editing does not mean using spell check. It does not mean hiring someone to simply proofread your work for you. Proper editing should involve several steps and sets of eyes on your work. Someone, not your friends and family, should read your book to provide you with a critique. The first step should be a developmental edit to check for character and plot development. Make sure the story has a logical flow and there are no holes in your story. After this it should go to an editor for line editing. Last but not least, a final proofreading review should be done of your work. This process can take a long time and should be handled by professionals. Again, friends, this is where I made my biggest mistake. I take full responsibility for not handling this particular issue properly.

The next step is having a solid plan for marketing and distribution. Knowing the pros and cons of printing books versus eBooks is key. These are all things that I didn’t fully understand until AFTER my book was in print and I had cases of them sitting in my living room.

My story has somewhat of a happy ending. Over the past year, I have met some wonderful people and many of them have been so kind as to offer advice and guidance. I joined a Facebook group called All4One, which is a group of authors who share advice and information about the publishing process. If I had known about this group before the release of my first novel, things would have been very different. I have since had my novel re-edited by a professional and sales and feedback have improved. I recently finished my second novel and while it is going through the editing process, I am working on my marketing and distribution plan.

In closing, I would like to strongly encourage any aspiring author to follow their dream of being published but to only do so after doing proper research and developing a solid business plan. Your business plan must also include a realistic budget that will not allow you to cut corners and ultimately deliver a less than quality product to consumers. Remember, the readers will make or break you.

Terri D is a long-term transplant resident of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania . She is a single mother of three who has written poetry and short stories all of her life. Her children have always been her inspiration to push to get to the next level. She writes as a way to express herself and to document her inner most feelings. Terri D published her debut novel titled Yesterday’s Lies in 2011 and her second novel Today’s Truth will be released in the spring of 2012. For more information about Terri D please visit her website at or visit her Fan page on Facebook.

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