A good friend of mine, Tina Radcliffe, just sold her first book to Steeple Hill Love Inspired. Oh the partying and celebration that went on in her honor! After years of perseverance, the dream is now firmly in her grasp. All her family and friends are so happy and proud of her.
So the party decorations are all cleaned up, the last guest bid adieu, and the door closes on the thrill that is the First Sale.
Writers that strive for years for their first sale sometimes aren’t prepared for the change in chores that now lie ahead. Speaking as one who has seen a number of friends sell their first books over the past two years, I can give a little insight.
1. Be prepared to jump into action quickly. Not saying I know how all publishing houses operate, but when you sell a book to Steeple Hill, they have a pub date ready for you in the same breath in which they utter the longed for words – We’d like to buy your book and work with you.
2. Don’t be a diva. Now that your dream has come true, don’t buck the system. Very few books are sold and published without revisions of some sort. Trust your editor. Of course you can discuss changes that rub you the wrong way. Just don’t earn the label of being difficult right off the bat. Your long awaited career might come to a grinding halt.
3. Schedules are crucial. Looking at my own writing habits, I’m a pretty firm seat-of-my-pants writer which means I write what and when the mood strikes me. Since watching my friends sell their books, I’ve been working on structure. I set small goals for myself and make certain I achieve them. There are masses of details that need to be attended to once you are contracted, and they all need to meet your publishers’ deadlines. Be prepared!
4. Have a loose idea of title and cover art. I say loose because, really, the editors have been at this a long time. They know what works and what doesn’t for their lines. If you insist on a title or whine when they change it, number one, your editor will probably say sorry if they’re so inclined toward graciousness; number two, you’re headed toward that difficult label again. Remember, discussion is fine, just handle it courteously and professionally.
5. Finally, KEEP WRITING!! Keep churning out those stories! Publishers invest a lot of time, effort and money in a new author to create a name and a brand of their own. Don’t be a one hit wonder! Be enthusiastic about your next project, or better yet, have completed manuscripts to offer. Put a smile on that editor’s face and develop a relationship that keeps your name in the forefront of all of the others knowing they can come to you with projects above and beyond what you submit. They can rely on YOU.
There are so many details and responsibilities that come along with selling your first novel. Hopefully, I’ll be able to fill you in as a published author soon : ) In the mean time, I’m working on more books, keeping my eye out for cover art, schedules are always at hand….
Have a great writing day!