Jon Gibbs is the author of one of my son’s favorite books: FUR-FACE, which was nominated for a Crystal Kite Award.
Recently, my son and I took a ½ hour trek to a local library to hear Jon speak about the ten things he wished he knew before he got published. I love that I have the opportunity to expose my son to talks like this. Originally, he was going to look around the library—but instead, he listened to the talk, asked questions, and stayed at the end to meet Jon. What a great experience for a kid (not to mention for an aspiring author)
As always, rather than rambling on forever, I am going to chop this up into a series. How many posts… ummm, let’s think… Yay to everyone who said ten!
Lesson one: You are not alone
Most of you have already jumped this hurdle. I know because you are here. But it goes further than that. You need to connect personally with other authors as well. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. There are tons of authors out there who are more than willing to share what they have learned… you just have to ask.
Look for local writers groups. (Meetup.com, FindAWritingGroup.com) Meet others who are going through what you are.
For heaven’s sake, get yourself a beta partner, or two, or five. There is actually a girl in my writing group who has asked me several times what a beta reader is. Believe me… it’s scary at first, but they are worth their weight in gold. Make relationships now, so when you are freaking out as a deadline approaches, they will not hesitate to jump in and help you at the last minute. You will totally thank me for this advice someday.
You know what I’ve started doing, which is a hoot? I contact an author before I start reading their novel. I just say hi, and tell them I’m going to read it. Most of the time, I get a reply, and we cyber-chat a little. Then I get back to them and ask them questions when I’m done. Pretty cool stuff. You can find out a lot about someone, and their publishers/agents just by some friendly chat.
You are not in this alone, as scary as it might seem, take that first step forward and make an effort to introduce yourself. You never know who you might meet.
Note: The above are Jon Gibbs’s main speaking points, with my rambling opinions attached.
Jon is an Englishman transplanted to New Jersey, USA, where he is an ‘author in residence’ at Lakehurst Elementary School. Jon is the founding member of The New Jersey Author’s Network and FindAWritingGroup.com.
Jon blogs at jongibbs.livejournal.com
Thanks for sharing this, Jennifer
I would have loved to contact Mark Twain
before reading his great body of work, but
I’m afraid I’m just a bit late.
I think you have given some sound
advice. I’m the guy who wrote, “The Day I
Saved the Frog’s Life” a few weeks ago.
Please tell me more about “beta” later and
why this description or term. Thanks,
Great Story! I saved a frog too recently. You can view the post here.
A beta reader is a person who will read your story before you send it to an agent or a publisher to let you know if there are any overall plot problems, or sometimes help with editing.
Hi Jennifer! May I interest you in my latest post? The title of this post is:
Are You A Junkie Or Just Obsessed? (7/15/12)
(harmless rhetorical question)
Please have a look. http://wp.me/p196WV-3e
Great advice, Jennifer (and Jon)! Can’t wait to see the rest of the lessons. 🙂
Glad you enjoyed it
I never thought of contacting an author before OR after I read their book. I’m going to do it!
You never know
You may make a friend
Or maybe a contact to help you out later!
I’ve never thought of contacting an author – before or after reading their book. But maybe I will now!
It’s pretty neat just to get a reaction when you tell them you’ve picked up their book
For me, it puts a personality behind the name
Which makes me think twice before giving any novel a really bad review (I just don’t review them)
It’s great to know we’re not alone, right?! I have coffee mug envy now:-) Enjoy your weekend, Jennifer!
It’s great to know you’re not alone, isn’t it?! I have coffee mug envy now:-) Enjoy your weekend, Jennifer!
Jon is so right about contacting writers. I send a note that I’ve added their book to my kindle wish list. Then if I like it, I let them know when I’ve read it and I post a review on Kindle or goodreads. It’s a great way to meet other authors.
I also forward emails if I get an advertisement about their books. Sometimes Amazon sends a recommended read list. On author I just read was on top of the list and I sent it too her. She was excited to see how her book was being marketed. This is a fun way to get to know other writers.
I’m looking forward to the next 9 things I need to know!
I never considered that a writer might not know that their book is being pushed
Precious advice, thanks!
No prob 🙂
I’ll echo 4amWriter’s post since it describes me, too. 🙂
You’ve written so many helpful series like this. Have you considered setting up a page with links to them for easy reference? 🙂
I actually did one for gold mine manuscript
It was the last post that listed all of the articles
I intended to copy it and make it a permanent page
But — oops — forgot
I gotta get on that
Yes, finding the courage to talk to an author or people who are further along in the journey than I am is difficult for me. Sometimes I think to myself *She* doesn’t have the time for little ol’ me! But that’s just an insecurity issue that is my own and I have to work through it. I do well with people who are in the same boat, though. Thanks for the neat tips.
I’ve found that every writer I’ve reached out to is more than willing to help
They were in your shoes once
This is something I need to develop. I tend to work very much on my own and am not so good at all that networking business – although, I do it in the blogging world, so I guess I’m capable of it!
I’ve actually pocked up a few betas just from asking on my. Blog You may have a great resource and not even know it
Great advice. I’ve connected with several authors (thank to FB and Twitter) and have gathered a few beta readers. It’s amazing how many people are out there who are willing to help you if you just ask.
Yes there are
But I remember taking that first step too