So you Call Yourself a Writer? Good!

Where to look, who to follow, which risks to take, and how to stay strong: a few tips for the freshly sprouted author.

I recently gave myself the title of Author. Well, Children’s Book Author and Daydreamer to be exact. I do a lot of daydreaming in between writing sessions. But when can you take the risk and call yourself a writer? The answer is now! You just have to take the first few steps. Hell, make them leaps because there’s no time for hanging around. So where to start?

Instagram. Twitter. Facebook. Youtube. Website. Start here. Get this platform up and running. I have subscribed to articles from Katie Davis. She is giving indispensable advice and helping writers to build their platform. Don’t underestimate it. You need it. If you book them, they will not come. They need to be enticed. Katie has an awesome book available called How to Write a Children’s Book. Get it! I also use Wix as my base. A super simple website building tool that will boost you like nitrous oxide.

I am still learning. Every day I am reading something new and trying to find my voice. But I am not stressed over it. It’s exciting. I am excited and you should be too. Write in various genres. Throw the ones that don’t feel good. You will quickly discover which you are hot for and which ones you want to give the cold shoulder.

Look out for courses such as those offered by Wappo. These are invaluable. I am currently taking one called Learn to Write Amazing Children’s Books. I’m taking it slow because inspiration is coming to me from all over the internet, but this course has kicked me into play from the off.

If you have some work that you are proud of: a short story, a novel, a poem – whatever it is, now is the time to start throwing it around. I used Kindle Direct Publishing to get my first piece of writing out there, and the responses have been positive. My family has been crazy supportive, so have friends. Maybe I am lucky, but I think you will be too. If you love the work you are doing chances are that someone else will.

Search for publishers that are working with genres you enjoy writing in and send your work to them. Don’t fear rejection. Embrace it. Use it as a tool to improve. Stay positive and don’t let anything or anyone stop you. Write every day. A good start is 1000 words. It isn’t too much and I know that you can smash through that goal. I told myself yesterday I will write 1000 words each day and I wrote 1500. There’s something about being challenged that forces you to do better than is expected.

It can feel scary when you are fresh on the scene: the new kid on the block. The competition is fierce, but I have found that the writing community is an embracing one. Follow people on Twitter that are writing in genres similar to you. They will share your posts, they will support your self-published work. Tweet, retweet, repeat!

A great way to practise your writing and to find your voice is to use writing prompts and enter competitions. Here are seven you can enter before the New Year, but keep a look out. Do some research. There’s a lot happening in 2017. And even if you don’t enter these competitions, you can use their guidelines and prompts to practise. I have enjoyed the Crimson Comp. The prompt is inspiring. Here are ten creative ways to practise your writing and if you are wondering how your finished book should look, here is a cool list of the parts of a book 

These are just a few ways that I have propelled myself into the world of writing. The articles and inspiring people have made a huge improvement in my confidence and ability to get the job done. I hope the same rings true for you. Last but no least – and in the words of Journey – don’t stop believin’. Write!

New authors, learn from my mistakes.

The power of preperation

It is almost embarrassing that I learned this entire process the hard way. Maybe I can help you by learning from my mistakes. I only completed the eighth grade. Not my fault, just a fact. I am a story teller, a very good story teller. I am NOT an English major. Publishing a book isn’t only having a good story or a great story teller. There are technicalities that MUST be addressed first.

Ten or eleven years ago, I got in at the very beginning of the self publishing era. If you were fortunate enough to have found a publisher then none of this is for you. I am talking to self published authors. Today everything is different than back then. I only had a couple of choices to go to for self publishing. It cost quite a bit to have this done back then. Now you can realistically self publish for almost nothing. Here is my best piece of advice to all. Don’t rush ahead of yourself, and don’t edit your own book unless you were an English major.

I did just that. I was so anxious to get my book done that I didn’t spend the time, or the money to help myself professionally. I was so sure that a great story is all I needed. I thought people would overlook editing errors because my books were so good. WRONG, I received all 5 star reviews on Amazon. My covers were great, the stories were great. Interest was high and things were moving right along. Until I got my first one star review on Amazon, and it said, “I couldn’t finish this book because of the lack of editing.” Well that was that. I had to stop promoting my books. I just couldn’t sell an inferior product. After spending all that money to publish three of my books, and all for not. At the time I didn’t have the money to completely re-do my books. A few years went by and things happened. Finally my publisher called and said that a Hollywood production company was interested in one of my books. “ENTER” they paid to have Hollywood coverage done on all three of my books. That is where a professional reader does an in depth review of the book, then it goes on a list of producers, actors, and film makers. So anytime these movie people are looking for new content for media, my books are on that list to choose from. Well once I got the reviews back, everyone (including my publisher) was shocked at how good the reviews were. One of them actually said “Could be an Academy award level film.” Soon after that I was contacted by a real publishing company. They wanted to completely re-publish “ENTER” They didn’t want my other two books, just that one. New everything from editing to a new cover and all. I jumped on that and now “ENTER” will be out as a new book next month. After having that happen, I realized this was my opportunity to fix my entire mess. I hired a professional editing company and had both of my other books Edited and re-formatted. I am also going through Amazon (create space) to publish these new versions. Through Amazon, I will make twice as much on each book, and the only cost is to purchase books.

If you need anything from editing, cover design, e-book formatting, or anything you can’t do yourself, Create space has someone who will do it for you at an affordable price. If not, they will walk you through almost anything your books need so you can do it yourself.  Once I got rolling, I went through APEX reviews and had trailers done for all three books for under $300.00 total. They turned out so good, I decided to get “ENTER” done as an Audio book. It too will be done next month. I truly believe that Audio books are the future. Go to Amazon (ACX) and get your book made into audio for free, if you are willing to give up 20% to whomever does it. If you want to do it yourself, you can learn how at ACX also.  If you are not computer savvy, it is worth the 20% to have it done right. Or you can flat out pay for the read and not give up any percentage.  I truly advise that you give it a try.

So here I am, ten years later and it looks like I am going to get another shot at this. Next month my three, edited, books will be out, my audio book will be out, my trailers are done and I have my Hollywood coverage.

I have a good web site and now, if you google my name, I come up first. I am going to use everything I have learned and do this right. I hope through this post, it helps even one new author keep from making just one of the mistakes I made. Maybe it will at least give you some ideas on things you hadn’t thought of. I hope it helps someone.

Thanks for listening

April O’Brien