With the incredible changes happening every year in the publishing industry, it’s hard to keep up with what the latest advice is. Indie publishing or traditional publishing? Agent or no agent? Structural editor or line editor? KDP exclusive distribution or distribution everywhere?
With all these things to make difficult choices about as a writer, there are just a few things which are clear and simple. Here are the top 5 things that I consider essential to being a successful writer who is proud of their work!
1. Quality quality quality. This should be the first, middle and last thing you think about in your writing. The quality should be in the writing itself (the very best you can do, and a bit more!), in the editing and in the proof reading. Ensuring quality means investing in quality, so that means choosing an editor and proofreader with a great reputation; and investing in time which means giving it that extra edit and extra read before you publish.
2. Get an amazing cover. Your writing is the very best quality. You have invested in a great editor and proofreader. Now you need a cover that tells the reader that what is inside your book is fantastic. Its time to invest again. If you want the best of the best, go to the bookshop, find a cover you love, and find out who designed it (the name is usually on the back cover or inside). Google them and see if they do freelance work. Designers usually do. The next route is to find a designer with a good reputation and show them the cover you love. Ask for something similar. You’ll end up with a brilliant design that shouts quality and appeals to the readers you’re targeting.
3. Go for as many formats as possible. E-book is easy. We’ve all got that. Print book is also quite easy, although it takes a bit more quality control. But what about audiobook? With the advent of ACX (www.acx.com) it is now both incredibly easy and extremely fun to set up audiobooks. ACX is part of Amazon, which owns Audible, where most audiobooks are sold. This means that you are producing your audiobook directly into the distribution channel. It’s the audio equivalent of KDP or Create Space. With clear instructions, you explain what your book is about, set your budget (as high as possible for a great narrator), choose your narrator, and then wait for them to produce it. My own audiobook was produced in 2 months. No stress. No effort. But my work is now available for a completely new market of audio fans. No brainer.
4. Finish the book and start another. It takes months – sometimes years – to write a book. And the person you are when you wrote the first line is not the same person you are when you write the last line. You’re a much better writer, in fact. You’ve learned a lot while you’ve been crafting 50 – 100,000 words. So what do you do? Do you start again, and re-write the novel from the beginning, as the new-and-better writer you are? And when you’ve done that…. do you repeat the process? There has to be a finish line, and you need to be clear about your finish line. Stephen King recommends the formula “2 drafts and a polish” in his brilliant book “On writing”. For you, it might be 3 drafts and a polish. But then you need to stop! Get the line editor hired. Get the proof reader on it. And publish. Then start the new one. Because you book you write next will be a new, brilliant work, written with you as the new skilled writer you are. Know when to draw the line. There’s always a new book to write.
5. Be good to other writers. It’s a grueling job writing books. It takes months or years to produce one work. We put our sweat, emotions, hours, passions, open hearts, late nights and all our money into our books, and then we are dependent on people liking them to have any success at all. It’s brutal. But one thing we can do is share our burden by being good to other writers. Reach out and connect with them. Read their books and review them. Meet up with ones near you. Share your advice and knowledge and experience. Share your contacts – your best editor and your cover designer. Write blog posts for writing blogs! It may not directly help you to be successful, but it will make the journey more beautiful – and help you to have the stamina to keep writing until your masterpiece becomes a worldwide bestseller. We’re all sharing a dream – let’s help each other reach it.
Leonora Meriel grew up in London and studied literature at the University of Edinburgh and Queen’s University, Ontario. She worked at the United Nations in New York, and then for a law firm. In 2003 she moved to Kyiv, where she founded and managed Ukraine’s largest Internet company. She studied at Kyiv Mohyla Business School and earned an MBA. During her years in Ukraine, she learned to speak Ukrainian and Russian, witnessed two revolutions and got to know an extraordinary country at a key period of its development. In 2008, she returned to her dream of being a writer, and completed The Woman Behind the Waterfall, set in a village in western Ukraine. Her second book, The Unity Game will be released in May 2017.
Heartbreak and redemption in the beauty of a Ukrainian village
For seven-year old Angela, happiness is exploring the lush countryside around her home in western Ukraine. Her wild imagination takes her into birds and flowers, and into the waters of the river. All that changes when, one morning, she sees her mother crying. As she tries to find out why, she is drawn on an extraordinary journey into the secrets of her family, and her mother’s fateful choices.
Can Angela lead her mother back to happiness before her innocence is destroyed by the shadows of a dark past?
Beautiful, poetic and richly sensory, this is a tale that will haunt and lift its readers.