Friday, August 30, 2013

Ten Things I Wish I Knew About Being An Author Before Getting Published

Joseph Spencer

You’ve done it! You committed to writing the great American novel you always thought you could write. You put your butt in the seat, your hands over the keyboard and your words on the screen. It’s finished. Your debut novel is finished, and set to skyrocket straight to the top of the bestseller list. The lion’s share of your work is done, right? WRONG!

For most authors, this step in the process is where the real learning takes place. The reality is debut authors, particularly ones who aren’t celebrities or aren’t being published by a major house, have to work as hard or harder on the business and marketing side of the book to get their masterpiece in front of a marketplace which isn’t familiar with them or their work. People are looking to stretch their dollars further in these times of economic hardship, and they have to be convinced that your work is worth spending their hard-earned dollars on. With that in mind, here are some things to consider if you’re looking to be published for the first time and aren’t quite sure what your next step should be.

1. No Agent, No Cry

When I began my publishing process, I figured I had to have an agent before any publisher would even consider my manuscript. That’s just not the case. The truth is a majority of independent authors submit unagented manuscripts all the time. The right agent will definitely help, but you can be published without one. Also, when you query agents, don’t get depressed when you get form letter rejections. Every author gets rejected, and it’s common for rookies to get the cold shoulder.

2. Do your homework

Whether you’re querying an agent or a publisher, don’t expect to cut and paste a generic form letter and get great results. You’re writing professionals who see massive volumes of material every day. If you don’t stand out, you don’t get out of the slush pile. Besides, if you wrote a fantastic science fiction novel, you don’t want to submit it to a romance publisher or an agent who handles primarily nonfiction works. There are a number of online resources which can help. is one of the best out there.

3. Do It Yourself?

If you’ve submitted your manuscript and aren’t getting any bites from agents or publishers, there’s another decision to make. It’s up to you whether you think the reason you’re getting rejected is that the material isn’t professional standard, whether it just needs more polish on the editing table or whether the scope of your work hasn’t found its niche. Another alternative is self-publishing. It’s becoming more common for authors to publish their own work through companies like CreateSpace, Lightning Source and Smashwords. The author eats a lot of upfront cost, but also keeps more of the profit when the book sells.

4. Together Everyone Achieves More

The TEAM acronym isn’t just a corny slogan for high school basketball warmup shirts. Authors go a lot further when they find the right network of specialists to help them with creative and promotional services. Did you know there are companies to help you find the right agent ( Online resources can help you choose editors, cover artists, publicists, and other specialists to help whip your manuscript into shape.

5. Love at first site

In this age of social networking and content delivery on the Web, it’s important for authors to have a strong online presence. If you don’t have one already (get out from under the rock), you need to get Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads accounts to post announcements to promote your book both before and after it’s published. This will help get the word out to your close friends and family who will be your best salesmen to other prospective readers. Depending on your economic situation, you can choose to make your sites either author or book specific. Also, try to blog content frequently on your site.

6. Everyone’s a critic

It’s important for authors to develop a thick skin when putting their work out on the marketplace. Please keep in mind that suggestions made by professional editors are meant to enhance the book’s appeal. If an editor sends back your manuscript with a lot of corrections, it doesn’t mean you’re an unskilled writer. It just means that editor sees potential for you to make your work even better.

7. Just face it

It’s not enough to lock yourself away in an office and write. Our society loves celebrities. Even if you don’t feel any differently, others look at you as a big deal once you get published. Readers want to meet and talk to the people responsible for the characters and stories they love. Make an effort to do a tour of local libraries, local book stores and fan conventions which make sense. Also, it’s just as important to do blog tours with companies such as Full Moon Bites ( Remember, out of sight, out of mind.

8. Give to receive

Odds are that you never expected to be hawking pens, bookmarks, notepads, magnets and various other items when you started writing your manuscript. However, these promotional materials go a long way in trying to get readers to remember you and your work. Sites like sell a variety of material you can purchase cheaply and give to readers at your appearances.

9. Upon Further Review…

There are times when all it takes to break open a treasure chest of potential readers is a favorable review from the right online blogger, media critic or genre-specific site. Sending out review copies costs money, but it’s essential in winning over readers who are on the fence about buying your book. Attempt to get as many reviews as you can because people are more likely to give you a shot when they see your material was liked by other readers.

10. Be Good to Each Other

Believe it or not, other authors can become your best allies when you’re trying to attract your following of loyal readers. Creating a network of writing friends, whether it’s a local group which can help you work on your skills and read your work or whether it’s an online group which can give you tips on promotion or help you cross-promote each other, is a rewarding and potentially lucrative experience. On my site, I do a weekly blog post of author interviews. I let other authors know they are welcome to promote themselves because it drives traffic and visitors to my site, too.

Joe Spencer is the author of Grim, a paranormal crime thriller released by Damnation Books in September 2012. It’s the first in the planned Sons of Darkness series. His second book, Wrage, is due out in 2013. He can be reached at

Joseph will be awarding a $25 Starbucks gift certificate to a randomly drawn commenter during the tour.


Sometimes the toughest fight lies within yourself.

As more dark secrets come to light, the battle for souls pushes Prairieville to the brink of war in the living and supernatural realms.

Jeff Wrage swears a blood oath to Abaddon, the supernatural avenger of murder victims, to hunt the crooked cop who butchered his wife. Jeff wonders whether he can be the executioner Abaddon requires. Their pact throws the supernatural realm in chaos and threatens to trigger an apocalyptic fight for control of the afterlife between the Sons of Darkness and Sons of Light foretold in the Dead Sea Scrolls.

Orlando Marino sees the death of Cyrus Black as his opportunity to restore the Marino family's stronghold in Prairieville’s organized crime scene and become a mob kingpin. He unleashes a plague, turning its victims into mindless followers. Cyrus' heir is busy rooting out a traitor and is unable to stop the coming turf war in the realm of man.

The fate of all rests with Homicide Detective Anna Duke, who steps into the shoes of her mentor while coming to terms with unrequited love. As she tries to clear the fallen hero's name, she takes on a case where corpses go missing. Her new partner is reported dead. She learns the truth about her true identity and uncovers a trail of secrets questioning her tragic past. She journeys to avert the destruction of all creation.


As a boy, Joseph Spencer immersed himself in the deductive logic of Sherlock Holmes, the heroic crime fighting of Batman and Spider-Man, and a taste for the tragic with dramas from poets like Shakespeare and Homer.

Before Joseph took to spinning his own tales, he pursued a career in print sports journalism, graduating summa cum laude from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. He covered such events as NASCAR’s Subway 500 race in Martinsville, the NBA Draft Camp in Chicago, the Junior College World Series, and Minor League Baseball’s Midwest League All-Star Game during a ten-year career throughout the Midwest. Now, he works as an emergency telecommunications specialist with an Illinois police department. The combination of years of writing experience with a background working with law enforcement professionals gave rise to his writing aspirations.

Joseph was married to Dr. Amy (Waggoner) Spencer, an accomplished veterinary doctor, on March 14, 2012. He received word his debut novel was accepted by his publisher, Damnation Books, the next day. Joseph is hard at work on the rest of the series. Book 2 – Wrage – was released June 1, 2013. The Spencer family enjoys reading Charlaine Harris, George R.R. Martin, Mary Janice Davidson, and most paranormal stories. The Spencers also enjoy quoting movie lines from “The Princess Bride”, “Rain Man”, “Bridesmaids”, and “Office Space.”

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Book Video Links: (Grim trailer) (Wrage trailer)


MomJane said...

Sounds like an exciting sci fi detective story.

Unknown said...

Love the excerpt.. Suspense.. secrets.. crafty way of writing.. love it. Here's to continued success.

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