Raise your hand if you want to give up. I’m waiting … that’s what I thought. No hands up. Once you’ve given birth to a plot, and created characters you swear you know better than your own mother, there is no escape. You’re hooked.
The pitfalls, however, are many. Starting with your first novel, avoid the dangers of being what many refer to as ‘just another indie author.’ Believe me, I’ve fallen into the pits, and will go to any length to avoid that frightening, dark abyss again.
1. Do not employ a friend to be your editor. Let me reiterate: Don’t do it! Save a friend, and avoid the reviews that, even if the book is well edited, might come back to drive a wedge between your friendship. Employ someone who has a proven and successful background in editing in the genre you write. Check their references, and ask them to edit at least one chapter before you start. Even after all this, send that edited chapter to someone else to review before you commit.
2. Do not tell another author you will trade reviews; a five-star for a five-star. These are easily spotted, and hold absolutely no merit. In fact, I have heard that an overall four-star review holds more merit as readers will believe the reviews are honest.
3. Never respond to a bad review. Hit a pillow repeatedly, throw several glasses across the room, or bite down a bullet as it is what it is; even if it isn’t factual or true. Read it once and never read it again.
4. Do not underestimate a “street team.” I started a street team a year ago and they are indeed “the wind beneath my wings.” There are only fourteen of us that make up the Hush team. And it is a hush team. No one shares anything we discuss, and the page is totally private. The purpose for starting the Facebook page was duo fold; they shout out news about my books, or book signings, or interviews, and we share what we wouldn’t share with our regular social network friends. We value friendship before my work. We all know, however, that if someone else shouts out our praises, their words hold more merit.
5. Do not tell everyone you have written the next greatest American novel; not even your best friend. Humility carries more clout. You write because that’s what you do. Period. Finish your first novel and make the next one even better putting to use comments from reviewers, authors, friends, and even enemies. Find two or three beta readers willing to read your book and then compare notes. Suck in every piece of advice you hear or read and then apply it.
Publish your book, sit back, draw in a breath, and say, “I’m a damn good writer. Even if I’m never well known, and at times people nail me to the cross with reviews, I am a damn good writer.”
Kimberly Shursen, one of the original founding members of Underground Book Reviews, is now a successful self-published author of three gripping novels: Itsy Bitsy Spider, Hush, and Lottery. You can find her at kimberlyshursen.com.