Let the Author within emerge!
Becoming a successful published author takes passion, patience and trust. Why I say trust is because many writers make the biggest mistake of not trusting their inner voice, and that little spark of an individual identity. A huge intimidation to a budding author lies within the fine print of reading other authors work. We read something we completely fall in love with, whether it's the style, the spunk, the spark or the refined quality and usage of language, and what do we do? We compare our own work to theirs and oftentimes rearrange our own work to fit the model of what we have read. Not everybody has the same style and that's how it should be! A great author knows his or her own identity on the page, even if he or she becomes a ghost writer. And writers should trust what they put on the page, regardless if it matches another successful author or not. Where we get stuck at times can come in a most unnoticed way, which lies within the submission guidelines of publishers. Whether it be a magazine, an E-Zine, or a traditional book publisher, one of the ways in which publishers appreciate authors submissions and take notice of them outside the piles of submissions, is when the author points out his or her work in comparison to others that the company has already published. Yes, this shows that the author has done their research of the company, but it is a fine line between showing whom they are compared to, and losing their identity in a publishers desktop of submissions within a body of work that mirrors something they have already put into print. They want originality even though they often model the successful authors they have yet to publish after others they've published. It's a fine line. And you as an author needs to stand out. That is the point. So trust your identity on the page.
Do you know what genre' you fit into? Do you know what topic or general category you write about? Categories, as boring as they may be when it comes to caging in the work you've written, are a life saver with publishers if you know how to catalog the work you've submitted. Most publishers don't have the time or the patience to help an author identify what category their manuscript falls into, let alone want to waste their time with someone they feel is too much of a novice in their approach, especially if they're a big wig among publishing companies. Many authors that get into the zone, start writing without an intention of where the manuscript will end up. And that's the best way to go because the manuscript will flow naturally as it should. In the final editing process of revision, this is where it gets a bit tricky, especially if the manuscript falls into multiple categories and the author is unsure of which to promote. In this case, it's best to promote what is most popular that the manuscript can be categorized as. So know your genre' and go from there.
One of the most beautiful components that brings a good writer into the ring of being a great writer, is vulnerability. Have you ever read something that made you fall apart, even in a good way? Or how about something that angered you or impassioned you, and you were compelled to respond, even if that means throwing your fists up at the universe, because the author stripped themselves naked on the page in front of you, leaving himself or herself completely open to you, the anonymous reader and it pulled at you emotionally? To soar high among the sea of dead manuscripts that will go nowhere, or even a sea of compiled articles that float lifeless in an abyss of mediocrity, you need to be completely open and vulnerable. You cannot hide behind your words forever, thinking it detracts from you professionally. Instead, the way you perceive your words are everything and they are your key to freedom. Your words of truth are as much a part of you as your vision, your deepest silent dreams, your non-spoken fears and your fingers that type the keys every time you sit at the computer. By connecting with your readers through authenticity, you will find yourself to be a lighthouse, guiding those through a genuine form of inspiration, rather than a structured set of pretty words that are merely a blanket to what you really wanted to say. So set your words free and be real on the page.
Revise, revise, revise! Publishing companies have changed a lot in the past couple of decades and they don't have the time to give editing suggestions that will help your manuscript become approved for publication by their company. That's an editors job and most publishing companies are doing away with in-house editors. It's a natural step in the corporate functioning of their company infrastructure. So, let's say your manuscript is finished. That's awesome! Now what? Let the ego go. What I mean by the ego, is the attitude of thinking you've done everything to bullet-proof your manuscript from rejection without consulting a professional editor. If you're fishing for a high profile publishing company, you need your manuscript to emulate a high profile refined quality. And as an author, we get blinded by our vision and message that our manuscript portrays. An outside opinion is golden but be careful not to employ just a friend or family member who has little to no experience in the publishing world, because what they might believe is incredible work, potentially will be critiqued by a professional. Take all editing suggestions as a constructive form of criticism. Remember, editors want your work to excel, not fail, and with a professional editor, you will hear what you need to hear, not what you hope to hear. Also, be careful not to fall into the trap of your own making by becoming your own editor. You as the author are too close to the project. You need an objective point of view to keep your work in balance. On the other end of the spectrum, some authors tend to over-edit their work to a point in which they lose the meat and potatoes of the manuscript. They erase the originality and unique story by refining the story so much that it dissolves within "too much change".
So you've gotten your manuscript edited, great! Now, have you researched the market of whom you're competing with or how you stand independent of them? This is key. But even beyond that is choosing how to be part of the marketing of your manuscript. Finishing your manuscript is just the beginning. Now comes the promotion, advertising, networking, and creating a buzz about your work as well as creating a polished and quality query letter for your manuscript proposal . Publishing companies, depending on which one you go with, will do part of this and of course they will take a percentage of your sales, depending on their contract with you. But that's another topic. With marketing, you are just as much a part of your books success as the promoters and advertisers. And there are many ways you can go in a multilateral direction to increase your book sales, revenue as well as fan base and exposure. Social networks are a great way to go, and email campaigns too. Book signings, radio interviews, and written interviews that can be published in magazines and on websites will do you a huge favor in being able to stand out among the multitudes of other authors who are seeking the same thing. Consumers don't have the time to find you. You have to go to them and the more avenues you have to branch out, the better. The internet and air waves can be your best friend or worst enemy. Establish your reputation, keep your profile current in the stream of "what's new" and your sales will have an even better chance to jump. You have six weeks on average once your book is out in the public eye to flourish. Six whole weeks. So take advantage of your marketability and take matters into your own hands too. If you're not on the internet, airwaves or television, you might as well be a ghost. If you've made it far enough to receive a contract by a reputable publishing company but die in the wings of the launch, then you only have you to be responsible for. So have fun with it! Get out there! Get seen! And see how amazing your career as a published author can be!
And when you're ready to negotiate the rights of your contract, you'll have the confidence and professionalism to yield success!