Thanks so much to Jen and Jessica for helping me celebrate the release of my debut contemporary romance, Under Her Spell. I’m excited to be here today at Romancing the Book!
Recently, an author friend wrote a guest post at Dear Teen Me, a blog where authors write letters of advice to their teenage selves. I commented on what advice I’d give to myself as a teen. This later had me thinking about what advice I’d give to myself as a newbie author 12 years ago. If I knew then what I know now, my road to publication would likely have been much easier and faster. So here are my words of wisdom.
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Dear Newbie Author Me:
Congratulations! You just finished polishing your first book. Celebrate! Drink a glass of wine and call everyone you know to share the news. After all, this was the hard part on your road to publication, right? Wrong. Reality check. Writing the book is the easy part, well not easy, but easier than finding an agent or editor who thinks it’s as good as you and your mom do. So, here are a few words of advice that might just help you get published sooner.
Don’t take no for an answer. Don’t stop querying agents after only 20 rejections. This is a drop in the agent bucket. There are hundreds of agents out there. One of these 20 agents will request your full manuscript, which is a HUGE deal, even though she ultimately rejects it. Don’t let this dishearten you and make you think your first book isn’t ready for submission, it is. Don’t give up on a book until you have queried a minimum of a hundred agents and editors. Seriously. If I told you how many agents and editors you’ll have to query before you sell, you might freak out and quit right now. So that’ll be my little secret.
Get feedback on your book. Yeah, you travel a lot for your job, so it’s hard to meet with a critique group on a weekly basis. You’ll make a lot of writer friends through online groups and at conferences. See if one of them is interested in being an online critique partner. A lot of contest judges will click with your book. Ask them if they’re interested in reading it and giving you feedback. You have nothing to lose. (FYI, you’ll be a two-time Golden Heart finalist, which will be really cool.) If you can’t find a critique partner, ask a local book club or a library’s advisory board if they’ll read it. A library’s teen ad board will prove very helpful with one of your young adult books. However you do it, get feedback.
Make sure your book has a strong hook. Write the query letter before you write the book so you know you can pitch it to an agent or editor. With all the thousands of books out there, having a strong hook is critical so that your book stands out. Believe me, it’ll be much easier to have a hook on the front end than to try to add one once the book is done. Been there, done that.
Learn to be patient and consider taking up yoga or meditation. I know you can’t ride an escalator without walking up or down it, but you’ll learn to. Be patient. This applies to numerous areas of your writing. Don’t submit a book until it’s ready. Let the book sit for 1-2 months and start a new project. Then go back to it and read it with fresh eyes. I know I told you to query a minimum of 100 agents, but don’t query them all at once. Query 10-20 agents and get feedback before querying more. Yes, you might be waiting at least three months to hear back from agents, but again, be patient. This industry is a waiting game.
Good news is you’re going to be a published author! Yay! Even though it might take a while, you won’t give up because you have perseverance. Luck and timing, not so much. But as with so many things in life, your perseverance will get you there. If you take my words of wisdom, I’m confident your road to publication won’t be as long, and you won’t need to take a few years off along the way to feed your disheartened muse.
So hang in there future published author and don’t ever give up!
What would your advice be to yourself five, ten, or twenty years ago?
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Eliza Daly’s first attempt at creative writing was in fourth grade. She and her friends were huge Charlie’s Angels fans and she would sit in her bedroom at night writing scripts for them to act out at recess the following day. She was Kelly Garrett. Fast forward to the present, she’s still writing stories about beautiful women who always get their men. The journey from fourth grade script writer to published author wasn’t an easy one, but it was always an adventure and the final destination was well worth it.
When Eliza isn’t traveling for her job as an event planner, or tracing her ancestry roots through Ireland, she’s at home in Milwaukee working on her next novel, bouncing ideas off her husband Mark, and her cats Quigley and Frankie.
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Thanks for stopping by today. Please check out the upcoming stops on my blog tour, October 22-November 21. I’ll be giving away a variety of gifts, such as e-books, writing journals, Amazon or B&N gift certificates, and chocolate on Halloween. If you comment on 5 or more of my 20 blog stops, and are a Facebook fan, you’ll be entered in a drawing to win one of two $25 Amazon or B&N gift certificates at the end of my blog tour. Winners will be announced on my website’s news page the end of November.
For today’s stop, we have a journal and ebook up for grabs. Check out the Rafflecopter widget to enter: