I left for the Colorado Christian Writers Conference about two weeks ago. When I got on the plane, I thought I had a pretty good handle on things.
I HAVE NEVER BEEN MORE WRONG.
So here's 10 things I've learned very recently that writers kinda sorta should be paying attention to.
1. Talk to everyone.
I'm an INFJ personality type. I get so burnt out socializing with people. But, if I want to be even remotely successful as an author, it's highly recommended that I talk to people. Talk to other writers. Talk to agents. Talk to publishers. Talk to everyone. Even if you're like me and hate talking to people and get stupid exhausted from it.
2. Altitude sickness is a real thing.
So drink water. For realsies. You'll be super hydrated, but you won't feel dizzy or woozy.
3. Hodgepodging a book proposal is always an option.
I'm sitting at my computer two days before the conference trying to find a proposal example for a young adult fiction book. Everything I Google takes me to nonfiction proposals. There was a point where my brain was just kinda screaming relentlessly, "I DON'T NEED A BLASTED NONFICTION PROPOSAL NO ONE WOULD WANT TO READ ABOUT ME." So I found a couple fiction proposal outlines online, Gerry-rigged it to a format and style that I thought worked and said, "That'll do." It wasn't perfect, but I got some solid comments on it.
4. Google the basics.
The number of people I ran into during the conference that were first time attenders and didn't know who their target audience was, or what the genre would be for their writing was a little surprising. I already knew this, because it was one of the things I had to learn a long time ago when I studied writing in college. So seriously, do yourself a favor and Google the basics for a proposal - that'll get you at least started on the right foot.
5. Platforms are basically the biggest thing riding on your writing career.
I, like many writers, thought that the publicizing came after the book was under contract and on its way to publishing. That's a big fat nope. Some publishers won't even look at a book if the author doesn't have a social media/web platform in place. It's such a big deal that it's practically all I learned at the conference and I'm still trying to wrap my head around it all.
6. There's like, a bajillion web developer sites out there.
Oh. My. Gosh. So many to choose from. Thank God there are people out there that research this stuff for me.
7. My professor wasn't kidding.
This is a real job. It's exhausting and time consuming. And that's just the actual writing part of it. I knew that on some level, but I had never thought it was basically being self-employed and having to shell out expenses for things like websites, profile photo shoots, conferences, and high tech software to be able to even be noticed.
8. Everything relies on you.
If you think a writing career is easy, I'm here to tell you it isn't. It takes hard work and dedication, time and money. You're the driving force behind your book's success. If you choose to not make a platform or buy a website or make yourself look like a professional, it will show and you could lose a book deal over it. Be prepared to feel a little crazy and out of your mind. I know I certainly do.
9. Beta readers are everything.
I'm lucky enough to have lots of friends and family that are willing to read my book. Recently I've kicked it off to other people that may or may not like the genre I'm writing for, but their feedback will help immensely, because they might not be my target audience, but they're my target audience's parents.
10. Just keep breathing.
It's hard enough writing and crafting a story. It's harder still to build a world, give it laws and physics and depth. I feel like I've come to a mountain of a hurdle with this whole building a platform thing. I have to keep telling myself to just keep breathing. I'm exhausted because time is being spent doing that rather than writing, and I'd much rather be writing. But, if I can get my head around this, I'll be able to develop a system and have more time for the craft I really enjoy.