Today it’s my great pleasure to introduce you all to a wonderful author and RAVE REVIEWS club mate, Janelle JALBERT. Janelle is the latest RRBC member to receive the SPOTLIGHT AUTHOR accolade as a result of her tireless support for other members of the club and for being so generous with her time and energy in profiling, propelling and promoting proud indie authors. I’m delighted to be hosting her here on Day 2 of her week-long blog tour, but that’s enough from me – take it away Janelle!
Letter to Me, the Author
I remember the moment I decided to take the plunge and commit to being a writer, not just an “aspiring author”. If only I knew then what the journey to publication would entail. Being a successful author requires navigating the publishing equivalent of the school of hard knocks. With that in mind, how would I help myself as an author if I could go back in time? Let’s see…
Dear Yet-to-Publish Me,
Congratulations! You have FINALLY realized that it’s time that you do what you were meant to do. I’m so proud of your courage, and I’m writing to help you get your footing as an author. It can be a hard and bumpy road, but I hope that this helps you navigate your path. You CAN do this!
First of all, stop focusing on having the next best-seller or a huge publishing contract. Overnight sensations are a myth – like the unicorn or the friend-of-a-friend-whose-cousin’s-best-friend- threw-together-a-book-and-sold-millions-of-copies-before-signing-a-movie-deal. Get over it. Start on solid ground, with real-world goals, rather than in fairytale land, if you really want to have a career as a writer.
With that said, don’t forget to dream. Take notice of everything around you because inspiration comes in many forms. If something lights you up, believe in your talent. There will be more than enough naysayers to claim something is impossible. Believe in the gift of inspiration or you will find that inspiration stops visiting you. Be prepared at any and all times…the Muse likes to strike at some of the oddest times.
To be a writer, you MUST write. It’s far too easy to make excuses to put it off. Would you keep any other job is if you put off showing up and doing the work? Exactly. Get writing! It doesn’t matter what you write, just make sure that you do it…regularly. The magic formula for the author is simple:
Inspiration + Dedication + Perspiration = Publication
Memorize it and live it.
Once you have some drafting under your belt, think like a businessperson. After all, you are going into business as an author. Decide what you want to accomplish, make a plan and start learning. You’ll never know everything. Your plan is going to be refined constantly so stay flexible. Be willing to try anything but be savvy. Check, recheck, and research anything that comes your way. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is, so be smart.
Here’s one of the major decision points when it comes to publishing. Which direction are you going? Do you want to go with a traditional publisher, self-publish, or do a combination of the two? Nothing has to be set in stone, but it helps to have an idea at this point. There are two totally different skill sets for submitting to a publisher versus self-publishing. Don’t think that a publisher will do it all for you (as in promoting your book or handing you a huge advance) if you go that route. That so doesn’t happen anymore unless you’re a celebrity. Sorry, honey, you’re awesome…just not a celeb.
Start reaching out to others now. No author is an island, no matter how solitary you think writing is. You need the help of others no matter what, and you need to let people know you’re creating works that are meant to be read. That means developing a following. To get a following, you have to be willing to give as well as receive and let people know about your work.
Start small. Begin by getting a manuscript completed. You can’t publish a book without a manuscript. That’s the basic requirement. There’s no getting around it. The irony is that drafting a manuscript is probably the easiest step in the process, so enjoy the ride while you write and create.
If you have the means, start reaching out to editors and do “try outs” while you are drafting. They can help you get a better sense of what you are writing even as you are pounding it out. Editors that understand your style and what you are trying to accomplish can be hard to find. It’s a very personal relationship, like a marriage, so aim to find someone that is not just qualified professionally but also works well with you personally. Editing can be the most costly part of publishing, so don’t be surprised if you get a little sticker shock. Also, they tend to book months in advance. Despite that, it’s definitely worth it, even if you plan to submit to traditional publishers.
Be prepared to edit your book countless times before you have something solid to share with others. Understand the difference between beta readers and editors. Beta readers will help you know what’s working and what isn’t. Don’t depend on them for the fine tuning. They are big-picture readers. Ask them about plot, characters and alike. Once you send it to the editor, make sure you stay in communication. Don’t be afraid to speak your mind. You are the parent of your “book baby” as such you are the voice/advocate, but you need to remain willing to embrace constructive criticism. It’s not personal. Be prepared to tweak things even after the initial “final” line edits.
There’s oh so much more to discuss (like the beast of book marketing), but that will come in time. Every book you write will add another level to your knowledge and many more items to your to-do list. As I said before, never think that you know all there is to know and always be willing to reach out to others. If you do that, the rest will follow.
No matter what, remember to always believe in yourself and your abilities, regardless of the push back you may get along the way.
Take care and happy writing!
Your older, more experienced (and published) self
Janelle Jalbert is the award-winning author of WINGDOG: Soul Pup, A Magical Mutt Memoir as well as Triangulating Bliss, Book 1 in The Mystique of Living Series, medalist for cross-genre fiction in the 2015 New Apple Book Awards, and Flash 40: Life’s Moments, winner of the 2015 Readers’ Favorite International Book Awards Silver Medal for Anthologies. She worked as a ghostwriter, a copywriter, and a motorsports reporter. Jalbert enjoys bringing stories to life that celebrate the magic in everyday living. Jalbert currently lives in Southern California, though she regularly returns to her second home in North Carolina when her pack of pups grants her a vacation. Learn more at http://www.triangulatingbliss.com or http://www.janellejalbert.com.