Practical Advice for New Authors by Denise Dowdell-Stent
The most fundamental piece of advice, and a realisation I have learnt through experience, is to trust your instincts! If something doesn’t feel right, stay away from it!
My first big mistake was approaching a number of UK literary agents, before my manuscript was completed and before I had done any groundwork and preparation into what I should present to them. This resulted in numerous rejections before I had barely begun. My second, most costly mistake, was employing the services of a company that claimed to critique the first three chapters of a manuscript and help to prepare a perfect package to present to literary agents. They took a large amount of money for their services for very little return. These experiences were both very disheartening and detrimental to my already meagre bank balance. But as with any adversity in life, one can lie down and give up or dust yourself off and carry on.
I would definitely advise spending money wisely on a reputable professional editorial and marketing service such as Standoutbooks; they will perfect your book and help it achieve the prominence it deserves. This is not an area to scrimp on – there are far too many badly edited books out there (in fact, I wonder if some of them have been edited or proofread at all). This does not present a professional package; it is immensely irritating to read a book riddled with errors, many of which include bad grammar and avoidable typos. Content editing can be expensive so if professional services are out of the question, find someone knowledgeable and whom you can trust to do a meticulous, thorough job. In my case, my first three chapters were critiqued by a company providing editorial services; I took on board the comments I felt had some validity and dismissed those that did not. After this, my husband proofread my manuscript. However, it was not until I employed the services of Bronwyn and Alex Hemus at Standoutbooks (http://www.standoutbooks.co.uk/), and had my first three chapters content edited by Bronwyn, that I realized that the rest of my novel needed a much more comprehensive edit. Unfortunately, my finances did not permit me to have this done professionally so my father took on the job of content editing my manuscript. As before, I took on board all the suggestions made, which not only involved corrections, but also shortening certain scenes and adding some scenes and paragraphs. Following this, both myself and my father repeated this process twice – I then submitted my manuscript to Bronwyn for a professional proofread – I once again made corrections, my father and I read through it making further corrections, and then Bronwyn checked it again before it was finally ready. So, even if not using professional content editing, save the pennies for professional proofreading.
A solid marketing strategy is fundamental, so explore the possibilities and utilise what feels right for you. Writing is a creative endeavour but to sell your book it also important to treat it like a business venture. I have a website www.eternaluk.com which features information on my book and myself, a photo gallery, trailers, a blog, a newsletter, sample chapter downloads, a media kit and links to retailers selling Eternal. I also use Twitter, Facebook, Google + and Pinterest. Guest blogs on literary sites and reviews for your novel also garner much more publicity and exposure for your book. Additionally, I have a listing on http://findagoodbooktoread.com/fiction-book-list.php, author interviews, guest blogs and hopefully a forthcoming professional book review. Especially important if selling on Amazon is to obtain a few positive reviews – this will help to improve your ranking and potential future sales.
Writing is my passion and provides an escape route from real life allowing me to indulge in my imagination and fantasies. When I am writing, I am living vicariously through my female protagonist, feeling her emotions and thoughts. I believe this really helps create an authenticity and realism that would not otherwise be there. However, although I find writing provides solace, it can also be quite isolating at times; this is part of the reason I enjoyed making my trailer – it was a wonderful experience to work with others who shared my vision and we had a lovely camaraderie between us.
However, one more essential that should be implemented is a professional, beautifully presented website. For me, the trailers were also imperative as they provide a visual representation of my book and allow readers to experience the world I have created in my novel.
Another author gave me a great piece of advice: your family and friends are your greatest asset. Friends and family provide a great network of support and offer great scope for future sales as they are more vociferous in helping to promote your book through writing informative reviews and spreading the words to their friends, who in turn will hopefully tell other friends and so on.
One final word: establish a good support network. A life/work balance is important so spend time with family and friends and enlist their help.
About the Author
Denise Dowdell-Stent is a YA Fantasy Fiction author but also writes scripts, poetry (published in various anthologies such as 'A Passage in Time' and 'Speaking of Love' by Forward Poetry), song lyrics, and maintains a blog at http://www.eternaluk.com.
She has just released her debut novel, Eternal as an ebook on Amazon, iBookstore, Kobo and Google Books (retail links on website). She lives in Cambridgeshire, UK with her husband and young son. Eternal is a YA Arthurian themed Fantasy, chock full of adventure, romance, suspense and intrigue.
Amazon (USA): http://amzn.to/1ecaVA8
Amazon (UK): http://amzn.to/1fU46yX
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre - YA Fantasy
Rating – PG 13