Friday, March 30, 2007

The Construction Zone 16. - You're Published! What's Next....

I recently did an article for my local RWA chapter on “You Got the Call. Now What?” In it I used quotes from several other newly-published friends about what was the hardest thing to adjust to. When you sell, it’s important to remember, you’re not alone. Others have, and are, going through the same thing. And I’ll touch on a few of the biggies so you don’t get the contract and get smacked in the head with reality without SOME warning.

First of all….enjoy the feeling and never lose that sense of excitement. 

Then, you should be prepared for being inundated with congratulations, invitations to join loops, places you “need” to be when you’re added to the “club”. My advice would be join. Try them out briefly, and decide which ones are most valuable. I can say right now that the ‘newbie’ loop that I joined was SO beneficial. Newbies from a few years ago are now helping out the newest additions and it is a wealth of great information.

If you don’t have an agent, you need to look at your contract yourself, and this is also where having friends in the know is good. You’ll know what you can and can’t negotiate, as well as little things to keep an eye out for.

Your contract is sent in, so now little things will crop up. You’ll likely have to send in an author bio, dedications, maybe dear reader letters…your editor will probably want to see what else you have on the go, you may get asked to fill out Art Fact Sheets. At this point you might be feeling quite overwhelmed even though the euphoria of having sold hasn’t worn off.

You need a website, copy edits arrive for you to do and send back in a ridiculously short amount of time, and you realize you haven’t written on a book in a month. People are squawking about self-promotion. The house looks like a tornado blew through and your kids have miraculously learned to make their own meals.

And suddenly, you realize you THOUGHT you were good at time management and you really had no idea.

It happens. It just does. Some handle it better than others, I was a mess. Not fall-apart-completely a mess, but certainly out of the zone. And it took about 4 months for me to get it together. It’s an adjustment, plain and simple. So give it time. Realize it happens, don’t be too hard on yourself, and let yourself settle into a routine.

The other thing with selling is that you may now have a deadline for book two. And you are excited until you put CHAPTER ONE at the top of the page and freeze.

What if you’re not good enough? What if you peaked with your sold book and you can’t duplicate that success…what if you’re nothing but a fluke?
Again – all part of the process and you simply have to write through it. It will be fine. Repeat this to yourself as often as needed. Personally I think my book 2 came out really strong and it’s my favourite I’ve written to date (like children, we shouldn’t have favourites but we sometimes do).

After that…get used to worry. I think realizing that nothing is guaranteed – that we still have to write books to a standard, and keep improving – keeps us on our toes and makes sure we don’t get lazy. You can’t assume every book is a done deal. Others will say, “Oh, it’ll sell, don’t worry, blah blah” but you still have that little bit of “I hope it’s good enough” in the back of your mind. It’s a pain, but I think it’s good for the writing.

The last thing….and this really has been the purpose of the whole Construction Zone series. ASK QUESTIONS. It’s really okay to ask someone who knows. It might be an editor, an agent, a writer friend, someone published. I’ve yet to meet an author who minded me asking a question. And I appreciate it so much (because you NEVER stop having questions) that I’m happy to return the favour if I can. And if I can’t – I can probably send you to someone who can.

I hope the series helped you in some way at some point. I know I’ve enjoyed putting it together and even learned new things along the way. On Monday, I hope to have the whole series posted to my webpage so all the topics will be easily accessible.



  1. Anonymous1:23 p.m.

    Carolc said...

    Donna this has been a brilliant and much appreciated series that I will constantly refer back to. Thanks for passing on your experience and knowledge and being so generous in answering questions.

  2. Ditto. I came late but caught up quickly because the information was so useful and applicable. I always enjoy when authors share from their personal experience in a way that helps while reminding me they're still human too. Just published. :)

  3. Nina B.10:39 a.m.

    Donna -

    Thanks for this series. It is really helpful. If you have time can you address contests? I submitted something to the Harlequin American Romance contest and have never heard back from them. Do we get anything back if we don't place - any type of critique? How long does that take if we do? I'd just like some feedback and wondered if we get any. Are contests worth entering, in your opinion?

  4. Nina, some people swear by them, some don't.

    I hardly ever entered contests. I entered Harlequin's Ultimate Kiss contest and was a winner, but that was a few years ago.

    IMO contests are good if: it is specific for what you're doing, it offers GOOD feedback, and if it gets your work in front of someone who can buy it. However I've seen lots of people enter contest after contest and it distracted them from the ultimate goal of moving forward with new work, which is the very best way of improving.

    Now that I think of it, I also entered the Romance Junkies first chapter contest a few years back. It caught the eye of Trish Wylie, who offered to critique together...and her help certainly made HIRED BY THE COWBOY a stronger book. I also got offers on the book that I'd entered. I'd say go ahead and enter, but be selective and smart about it and perhaps the best way to do that is talk to people who've entered those particular contests before. :-)

  5. Thanks Donna! I think I'll keep concentrating on my writing and focus on the emotion and layering!