Resources for Writers
Really Useful Links for Writers: After the Deal
It’s the dream. The traditional book deal. Although self-publishing is already a significant factor in the industry, most of us who’ve made that decision, “I want to be an author”, are shooting for the big book deal. We want the three-book contract and the movie adaptation and the gala signings. And that’s what it’s like, right?
I wish! When I got my first book deal, I thought that my life would be changed forever. It was, don’t get me wrong, just not in the ways I was expecting. I thought I’d be packing in my day job within a year or two, and seeing my book on shelves everywhere I went.
My first book was released in 2012, 19 months after I’d been offered a contract. That was a long wait, I can tell you. And that was just the first of the illusions I had shattered. It was published by a small house based in Utah, so it was difficult to get bookshops in Ireland to stock it. And being a new author, I was responsible for almost all of the promotion and arranging my own book launch. This is the reality of the industry. It’s certainly not for the feint of heart.
Thankfully, there are boundless resources available to help guide you on what you expect and prepare for as you near your goal of publication. Now, I’ve delved into both traditional publishing and self-publishing, and I’ve found each to have their own unique challenges and rewards, but today I’m talking about traditional publishing, specifically. I’ve got some useful articles gathered here for you, from a wide range of sources. These are some of the best and most honest assessments of what you’ve got waiting for you down the road.
Firstly, let’s dispel some of the more common myths of the traditional publishing deal. While Write Nonfiction Now is a site dedicated to advice on non-fiction work, the information here applies to fiction just the same. These are some of the most common assumptions new authors make when they start on their writing journey, and you can bet you’re in for a shock if you don’t temper your expectations.
With that out of the way, stop over at The Write Life for some on-the-ground truths about the process of a book going from contract to release. Elizabeth Evans is a literary agent and everything she says here comes from personal experience. There are aspects of any industry that you’ll never realise until you’re in it, and any artistic career is always more glamorised than the reality. Learn from those who’ve gone before. It’s much better to be prepared than taken by surprise.
Graham Storrs visited The Creative Penn a couple of years ago to talk about what he’d learned from his first book deal. His words offer a valuable insight into the experience from the author’s perspective. As much as we can dig up information from publishers and agents, it can be easy to forget that even the best advice from those professionals won’t necessarily prepare us for our own emotional journey. Graham’s article is particularly useful for this list of links as he had made the decision that self-publishing simply wasn’t for him, and it was a traditional deal he wanted.
Just this week, Elizabeth Spann Craig had Bryon Quertermous on her blog, to talk about the importance of managing your expectations after a book deal. As I mentioned above, things probably won’t go quite as you expected, even after you land your book deal. You not only have to face the realities of the industry and the additional work ahead, but also your strengths and weaknesses as a writer. The parts you might have enjoyed writing most might not have been the most successful and popular parts of your book, and as an author, you have to decide where the right balance lies between your artistic vision and your ability to make your next book sell.
Finally, I’d like to share an article that went up last month, on My First Book Deal, which gives a little hope to all of us. Shane Hegarty, former arts editor for The Irish Times, landed a great book deal for the Darkmouth series in 2013. Here, he shares his feelings and experiences, and reminds us that at any time, the dream can come true.
Next time I’ll be talking about self-publishing, and drawing your attention to the highs and lows of this latest opportunity for writers to get published.
(c) Paul Anthony Shortt