First, I’d like to thank Jessica for reading (and supporting) my memoir, SEVEN LETTERS FROM PARIS. I’ve known Jessica “virtually” for almost five years now. (I can’t wait to meet her in person one day!)
Not only is Jessica a remarkably talented author and a great friend, she is the go-to gal for writerly advice. So, today, in keeping with theme of my memoir, and Jessica’s amazing blog, I thought I’d post my top SEVEN tips regarding the crazy world of publishing and writing. Some of this advice you’ve heard before. And some of it applies to how I actually sold SEVEN LETTERS FROM PARIS.
1) EARN YOUR RACING STRIPES!
Work on your craft. Connect with other writers. Learn the business, albeit traditional or self-publishing. Read in your genre. Build up your platform, your social connections. No matter how supportive she is – your mother is NOT a critique partner or a beta reader! And neither is your sister, spouse, or best friend. Put your work out there. Yes, with strangers. One of the best resources on the web to learn the business AND connect with other writers is http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums. Also, if you write middle grade or YA, check out Verla Kay’s “blueboards,” now located on The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators site: http://www.scbwi.org/boards/
2) REVISE. EDIT. REPEAT.
Unless you are extremely rare (or an alien from the planet Wordsmith), your first draft will most likely be a steaming pile of cr@p. But you haven’t wasted your time. The great thing about writing is you can always dust yourself off and turn the page. Revise. Edit. Repeat. It took me four drafts and many revisions before SEVEN LETTERS turned into a saleable manuscript.
3) DON’T LET CRITIQUES or REJECTION or BAD REVIEWS GET YOU DOWN.
Take critiques with an open mind and never get angry. Let advice simmer for a day or two before sending off a scathing email. Your writing partners want the best for your story. When critiquing others, I always apply the sugar, salt, super-sugar method. (What’s good about the story, what needs work, and what totally rocks). Separate yourself from the story, especially if you’re writing a memoir. We’ve heard this time and time again: publishing is subjective. It’s true. And I think we can apply the same principals to bad reviews. Remember, people aren’t critiquing you. (If you ever receive reviews attacking you personally, these people have severe emotional problems. And we can’t fix them.)
Note: A friend of mine recently offered this advice: don’t focus on reviews or book stats; write your next book. (I’m about to cross this bridge. I’ll let you know how it goes.)
As for rejection, the first ones buzzing around in your inbox sting like an attack of malicious killer bees. Just remember, although there is pain, you’re not going to die. You’ll know you’ve become a seasoned writer when you can actually laugh at rejection. In fact, I received a rejection from an agent I’d queried one year earlier...the day I sold my memoir to Sourcebooks. Ha-ha-ha! Instead of responding, I opened up a bottle of wine. Cheers!
4) HIRE AN EDITOR.
Whether you want to self-publish or ease (ha!) on down the traditional publishing road, I really can’t stress how important it is for you to hire a well-seasoned editor. I did. And it was the best decision I’ve ever made. My editor didn't change my voice, or fix grammar issues, or re-write my story. He asked me the hard-hitting questions. He suggested cuts. And additions. Things my alpha readers didn’t catch. I told him to “bring it on,” that I had thick skin, and could handle whatever he threw at me. We revised the manuscript again. We polished the book proposal up. Then, I enlisted an army of beta readers. Once I could no longer stand to look at my manuscript, I sent it off in the world, trying to land a new agent.
This didn’t happen.
It was then I decided to take my book into my own hands and I pitched SEVEN LETTERS to Sourcebooks. I figured if I didn’t sell the manuscript, I’d be in a much better position to self-publish. A few weeks later, the unexpected happened. Sourcebooks offered me a publishing contract, which I signed once I stopped doing a happy dance. A year later, they sold foreign rights to Random House Australia and, so far, translation rights to Lithuania and Bulgaria. So, yes, hiring an editor to fine-tune SEVEN LETTERS was worth every damn penny. But the work didn’t end there. My editor at Sourcebooks, Anna, and I revised my manuscript two more times before it was sent on to copy edits. Which brings me to my next point...
5) PREPARE TO WORK HARD! BE PATIENT!
It took me five books and seven (there’s my number) years to land a publishing deal. Now, I have two books coming out within two weeks of one another. (Tangent: I’m probably the only author with a romantic memoir and a middle grade about mutant kids coming out at the same time. Who needs a pen name? The truth? It always comes out!) Once an agent/editor picks you up or you make the decision to self-publish, the work doesn’t stop. If you thought writing a book was time-consuming, just wait until you enter the marketing phase. There are endorsements to snag, events to plan, guest posts and interviews, and more. Look at what our friend, Jessica, has accomplished with her White Lady tour! (She’s on my blog today, which brings me to point six...)
6) SUPPORT OTHER WRITERS!
Honestly, I’ve been in the midst of launching two books, so I haven’t been on the blog scene much. But I am here behind the scenes, offering my support to my network. I do what I can when I can. I buy books (when I have the money). I leave reviews. I sign up for blog tours. I critique my writing group’s manuscripts. There are about twenty-or-so people who I can call on when I need them, and, likewise, they can always call on me. We’re all in this together.
7) NEVER GIVE UP!
Twenty years, seven letters, and one long-lost love of a lifetime
At age 40, Samantha Verant's life is falling apart-she's jobless, in debt, and feeling stuck... until she stumbles upon seven old love letters from Jean-Luc, the sexy Frenchman she'd met in Paris when she was 19. With a quick Google search, she finds him, and both are quick to realize that the passion they felt 20 years prior hasn't faded with time and distance.
Samantha knows that jetting off to France to reconnect with a man that she only knew for one sun-drenched, passion-filled day is crazy-but it's the kind of crazy she's been waiting for her whole life.
Watch the book trailer:
|Jean-Luc and Samantha in Paris 1989.
Praise for SEVEN LETTERS FROM PARIS
“A charming story, and a delightful tribute to the power of a good old-fashioned love letter.” ~ Peter Mayle, bestselling author of A Year in Provence
“Seven Letters from Paris is a real-life fairytale. You’ll be rooting for this bubbly American heroine and her prince charmant.” ~ Elizabeth Bard, author of Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes
“Enchanting. A captivating real-life fairytale romance that will have you reading slowly so you can savor every delicious word. Castles included!” ~ Janice MacLeod, author of Paris Letters
Buy the Book:
|Photo credit: Stephen Fisch
Connect with Samantha:
Web | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter
You’re invited! Join Samantha at her “virtual” book launch event on Facebook tomorrow, where she’ll be giving away copies of SEVEN LETTERS FROM PARIS!