Saturday, May 17, 2014

Between the Bindings with Elly Helcl

Elly is a pretty cool lady.  I met her on BookLikes after winning the first novel in a series she has written, then a month or two later won the second one, which caused me to just HAVE to go purchase the third one the day it came out :)  Since then, we have had several interesting conversations over there.  How could I not ask her to be on here, to offer some little tidbits she's learned?  And I'm glad she did because, well, you'll see ... 

My Advice to All Newbies
When Meghan at  The Gal in the Blue Mask asked me to give new authors some advice, I was  honestly horrified.  Give new authors advice?  OMG!!!  What if I give the wrong advice?

And then I realized something ... She said, "Be yourself."  Well, I made mistake after mistake when I first started out.  I didn't know ... anything.  So, I am going to share my adventures, or misadventures, and hope you take this advice to heart.

My very first novel was "Tia's Folly."  I was so proud it was finished and overly anxious to start the SPA (Self Published Author) process.  I had a friend (who is also a writer) edit my book, I used createspace to make a cover, and I published it.

Mistake #1

Never, under any circumstances, publish the first write through of your book.  No matter how polished, no matter how "perfect."  Even Stephen King said the first draft of your novel is for the author.  Just don't do it ... you will be shocked how transformed your novel will be after a second or third write through.  I promise, it will be worth the added time.

Mistake #2

Createspace is an awesome platform for SPAs ... their covers?  Not so much.  Take the TIME to find a cover artist that you like.  You should LOVE their work.  Your cover is the first impression readers will have of your book.  We all know how hard it is to live down a bad first impression.

Mistake #3

I had a friend edit it.  Never ever have a friend edit for you.  Even if they are great editors, they aren't the kind of editor you need.  Hire a professional BOOK editor.  It isn't worth the spanking you will get from your readers and it will be hard go live that mistake down.

So, I was published!  Yay me!  I went ahead and jumped onto the Amazon Forums and stupidly didn't educate myself about them first ...

Mistake #4

Under no circumstances should an author EVER promote themselves online.  Experience has taught me that this is a "Period" kind of thing.

Mistake #5

I stood against an author who was calling readers "book hoarders" and saying that anyone who picks up a free copy of a book "owed" him a review on Amazon ... Wow ... the backlash was amazing ... I am cyber stalked by STGRB and their followers now.  If you don't know what STGRB is, consider yourself lucky and just stay away from them.  Do NOT engage in online drama!!  Ever!  Just say NO!

How I fixed my mistakes was simple.  I rewrote my book, got a professional editor, and found an awesome cover artist ... I LOVE her work and I will probably use her in the future.

I didn't learn all my lessons the first time ... a few of them I continued to make for about a year and a half.  I allowed myself to be drawn into the world of online book review drama.  It took a lot of time away from my writing and it took a lot of energy.  I was frequently frustrated and I seriously considered quitting writing after my series was published.

Last year, I barely wrote and I couldn't find the inspiration to finish my trilogy.  I felt like I had lost my ability to write.  So, this was my New Year's Resolution.
  1. Lose weight (I am down 73 pounds ... though a weight loss surgery assisted with that)
  2. No more internet drama (Have avoided it completely)
  3. No more reading STGRB (Good resolution ... it should be one of yours too)
  4. To write again (Half way through my next novel)
There is no shame in making a mistake.  Just be careful to avoid STGRB.  I can't say that enough times or stress it enough.

Stay off of online forums (such as Amazon) unless you are doing so as a reader.  BookLikes, Goodreads, whatever site you want to insert here, do not promote yourself.

So, how do you get your name out there?

Well, I do book giveaways (especially e-copies).  I do interviews for bloggers.  My absolute favorite though?  Let people find me.  I am registered as an author, they can see I am an author ... I review books, I interact with people, I am just me ... Just being yourself can make people interested enough to pick up your book.  A lot of people are interested in reading a book written by someone they know.

My final bit of advice is this.

Don't write to become rich.  Write because you love it, write because you can't live without it, write because it makes you happy.  I don't care if I ever make it big.  As long as people are reading and enjoying my writing, that is enough for me.  Let it be enough for you.

Great advice, Elly!!  (See what I mean, guys?)  Thank you for being brutally honest and sharing what you have learned through your time as an author.  I appreciate you joining us here on The Gal :)

Until next time y'all ...  

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