Wednesday, June 17, 2009

New Kid on the Block

And no, I don't mean the 80's boy band that took America by storm... I'm talking about being a new author in what seems like a genre of veterans. You know the kind, so green they blend in with the grass. The ones who want to jump in with both feet and join every blog, chat and group they can just to feel like they belong. And I suppose there's no one better suited to the title here at the "gem" than yours truly.

So let me introduce myself. My name's Kris, and I'm so new you won't even find my books listed yet. So you can imagine how strange it feels looking around and seeing all the beautiful cover art and the endless lists of titles under each author's belt. But, even though the only people googling my name are family and friends (yes, twenty dollars still goes a long way) I didn't want that to stop me. After all, who better to give you the insight of a work in progress author, than one in the thick of it. And if I've learnt anything over the past month, it's... there's a lot to learn.

Originally I figured writing a full, 90K novel was the hard part. I didn't know I'd have to write query letters and make tag lines and blurbs just to catch the editor's attention before they'd even open my sample chapters. So off I went, spending another seemingly endless amount of time trying to summarize my book into one line and finding a creative way to outline the theme in a couple of paragraphs that will have my novels jumping off the shelves, or in a lot of cases, downloading off into cyber space. I scrutinized every page, reading it so many times I couldn't have found a grammar error if it'd jumped off the page, constantly pondering if the few thousand words I cut were the ones I really should have kept. But, finally, there comes a time when you ask... what do I do next? Is it ready to hit an editor's desk? Do I really think I've got what it takes to make it past their slush pile?

Thankfully the answer was yes, but success rarely comes instantly and if you're going to pursue a career in writing, be prepared for your fair share of rejection letters. Whether you submit directly to a publisher or try to get an agent, it's tough to get past that initial selection process. But with determination, some talent, and a bit of luck from your old rabbit's foot, your day finally arrives... an email that doesn't tell you "they hope you find a home for your novel," but one that asks if you'd like to "contract it to them!"

So once you finish picking yourself up off the floor, be prepared. 'Cause now the real work begins. Who knew you'd have to have a website, a blog page, an email for fans? I know, I sat there staring at the request thinking... I'm going to have fans? I'm not sure about other authors, but I can honestly say, fans weren't the reason I wrote the book. I wrote it to please those voices in my head that wouldn't seem to quiet down until I told their story. (And no, I'm not completely insane yet, but thanks for asking.) And quite frankly, the thought of fans seems very surreal. But I'd be lying if I didn't say I'm looking forward to the first piece of fan email... another milestone down the road of becoming published. Just as soon as I start a myspace page and don't even start about the twitter thing...So, the reality is, there is still a ton of work to be done, even though others may think you've already made it.

Thus, to all you aspiring authors, take heed. Start now. Get a website. It doesn't have to be fancy and for quite a while mine was pretty meager. And while I've managed to fill it up, since my first book isn't due out until November, it's still just mostly for my pleasure. But it's there, ready to go, for my soon to be adoring fans. (yes, I will believe! If I make it, they will come.) And once you've got that done, start blogging. It doesn't have to revolve around only writing. I talk about everything, from relearning my 10 year old's math, to trying to rename a novel. All that matters is that you've got it all in place. Trust me, it'll save you a lot of frustration when that magical day finally happens.

So there's the tip of the iceberg, folks. There's much more to being the new kid than just making blogs and websites, but as I said, I'm learning as I go. I still don't know much about promo's and getting yourself out there, but each step is another down. Besides, those are great fodder for another post.

Here's to staying focused, and letting the crazy out slow.

Kris Norris

    Romancing life... one adventure at a time.


Genella deGrey said...

Hi Kris!

I'm a relatively new author as well - I have one ebook that came out in late April. :)

You've given us some very sound advice - And I can honestly say, from the lofty speed bump on which I sit (and block traffic,) you're on your way, girl!

I'm going to look up your website!

Kris Norris said...

Hey Genella

Great to have you around the RP blog. And congrats on your release in April. I'll be sure to look it up.

And thanks. It's like being on a roller coaster, and definitely the best ride ever.


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Glynis said...

I am a newbie, I self published 2 poetry books, but am now venturing to write a novel. I have my blogs and my new author blog Glynis Smy. I have not thought about a website, maybe I will. Thanks for the advice.

Kris Norris said...

Hi Glynis

Thanks for dropping by. And trust me, the more you can do now, the better. Besides, with two self-published poetry books, having a website would be a great way to promote those items as well as any upcoming novels you write. I've been told getting your name out there is half the battle. And like I said. It doesn't have to be fancy. Start off slow and build as you go. You'll be thankful you did. Let's face it, the web is the best promotional tool you'll ever have. So jump right in and don't worry... you'll swim.


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