Am I a Stephen King expert? No. But do I have a certain amount of expertise on the subject as a published author? Yuh damn right. So, take my advice or not, let’s get into it.
How can you stop saying “I’m writing a book,” for years, versus saying, “I wrote a book.”?
You don’t know? I do.
10: WRITE WITHIN YOUR WHEELHOUSE
I mean it! You wanna write a western romance but you’ve never watched one and you hate them? Okay, it’s totally up to you, but if this is your debut book, you’re a brave little soul. I’d nix the western aspect unless I conducted tons of research first before bridging the two. You are free to do and start things the way you wanna, but I always say, be smart, especially when it comes to your passion. You wanna make the best impact possible. You wanna promote with the upmost confidence. There’s a certain ease that comes with writing what you know and running with that. Please don’t think I’m promoting narrow-mindedness or fear. We are creatives and you should always steer your own wheel, but just don’t let readers smell a wreck.
The last thing you’d want is for your beautiful tone and story to get lost in the sea of murkiness. I mean, look at Debbie right here trying not to fall to her death all unskilled-like. I don’t know about you, but if this is what uncharted territory looks like, then give me the path most traveled. Okay, I may sound like a scaredy-cat, but my readers appreciate the art I’ve created, because I wrote what was coursing through my veins. If you’re committed to the concept of walking on uncharted territories, then go. Just put on your best walking pair and get going. But don’t cry when you get bunions.
9: HAVE A VISION
You see this goof troop up here? 👆🏽
Yeah, him. That should be you. You should be happy that you can write knowing that your brain has envisioned scenes ahead of time, that you can see where this thing is going, that your characters are mapping the way. Where is your roadmap? A jot here, a jot there, everywhere, jot-jot. Look into this man’s computer screen. Now, I don’t know what the hell that is, but it looks like conceptualization. If you don’t have a concept as to what will drive this book, who will steer it and where will it crash (climax, plot twist?) baby you gon crash. And this crash ain’t the good one. See, every book has a crashing moment, but it’s a good one. But without any vision, yours will be a bad one. Find out the ‘why’ behind the book before you get going. Otherwise, it’ll become a “Why read this?”
8: HAVE NO EXCUSES
Look at this nice lady having the nerve to smile like that while you can’t produce. Have I been there before? Yup. Here’s what I think. Writer’s block is really the author waiting for the right answer of what to write next and to come and hit them on the head. This is the part where the characters freeze up and them bastards go silent on us. Ohhhh! So you had all that yickedy-yack the first time, but now you’ve nothing to say? Ain’t this rich?! So, what happens? We sit for weeks while the characters are PMSing and we get stuck with the blood. Mudda chuckas!!! Listen, this is when you sit down and write one sentence and even if you keep scrapping it, re-write until that one sentence sticks. Then go from there. One may say, you can’t force it. I’ve preached that. But, listen. You lose precious time that you’ll never get back. Sit down in a quiet space. Write! It’s actually your head coming between your heart and hands. I promise you. The words are there. Writer’s block is purely mental, a block in thinking, and the last time I checked, our thinking took place in the head. Luckily, you still have a heart which houses the passion. Now write.
6: NOURISH THYSELF
Wait a minute. Wait a hot-ham minute! I didn’t say like this. Kids, out! Where the parents at, again?!! I’ll venture to guess these are siblings thus giving them the benefit of the doubt, cuz that kid ain’t coming around my future daughter with eyes like that. Boys... sigh. I digress! Listen. You see these kids are happy? Hell! Everybody posted been happy except for shaky Debbie up there on the makeshift bridge and possibly you! These kids are making time for themselves. Do you? Do you write hungry, tired, and unsexed? Okay, you don’t need the sex, or do you? Hey, it could only help, but coaches tell athletes no sex. If you write romance, the fork only splits two ways here. Either you can go have sex for research purposes and write about the moves and feelings in the book, or you can refrain and let the characters play out your fantasy, get you hot, then the readers will, too, and then go do something about it. Listen. Sex or no sex, that ain’t my business, but you need food and sleep. Oh! And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. Your characters don’t wanna be duped cuz you ain’t got your act together. Wrong them, and the readers will know. 🤷🏽♀️Dass all I’m sayin’.
5: HAVE MULTIPLE TOOLS
Fools. Not like this. Dang. Y’all so dirty. I meant writing tools that follow you wherever you go. I write on my phone using the Word App, and I use my laptop that goes in my fashionable backpack. I leave my other laptop that’s too big to carry in my portable bag and my desktop at home. Take a trusty laptop and your phone for just-in-case moments. Ever have a poppin’ scene in your head but just don’t have anywhere to put it? Not me, cuz I got my tools. Ever been somewhere where you need to be invisible or you’re treated that way? Whip out your phone or your non-needing internet laptop and write! No excuses! You should be able to write in a pool on your phone with your arms resting against the concrete-rimmed wall. But just don’t drown the characters. Please!
4: START HUNTING AND GATHERING
No. I’m not talking about food, because according to point number six, you should’ve eaten by now. I’m talking about hunting and gathering your editors, book designers, book reviewers, and tribe. You’ll just need to put some clothes on first when you do. Listen, do it about right here, when you now have direction of the book, something to work with material-wise, and confidence that you’ll finish the book. Now that you’ve built a fictional world, you’ll need to start building one that you can touch. Enter, a new kind of world. That’s right. You done got all comfy with thinking our lives are just typing sprees, huh? Nope! A-haaaaaa. Fooled juh. Start outsourcing your needs. Have a list on standby. What can you hire others to do to make your dream a reality? You’ll need a team. I have one. I have a team of people whom I pay, and a team of readers, or ARC reviewers. These people will review your books for free to start placing them in an unbiased lane in which your book will take off in. They are readers who will give you an idea of how other readers may receive your work. The giggles stop here. Find an editor and proofreader who’ll glam up your work. No, I didn’t say will write for you or steal your voice. I’m talking about people whom you trust and can work effortlessly with. Mutual respect, trust, and understanding. If you don’t know who you can call and depend on when it’s time to outsource and recruit, you’d better get on that. Don’t wait until the book is completely written. Some people need to be booked. I’m guilty of that with reviews, but I am willing to wait in line. However, you wanna be mindful that everyone has a life beyond you, even bookworms and those who need your money. It’s hard, but try to plan accordingly. You’re self-published and still a professional.
3: GET YOUR SUBSCRIPTIONS
Nope. Nah. Sorry. Netflix, Hulu, and the like won’t cut it. I’m talking about places that will embellish the dream or foster it. Maybe one to Adobe for PDF, Books and Main Bites for romance authors, BookBulb, Shutterstock—WEBSITES. Look. Whether it’s free or not, you’ll need to know who’ll be taking out your money per month/year and have your ends right. One hiccup could through you off or delay progress. Commit to who you can afford and make it work. You’ll be pumped to have platforms to show off your work and pics to tell the story, that you’ll continue to write. When people are expecting something, you’ll have a better chance of making it happen. I promise! You’ll be amped up by seeing your world with a visual and not just with words. You’ll salivate at the thought of someone telling you that they’re reading your book. You’ll get beside yourself picturing someone with a pint of rocky road at beside turning your pages. If you’re not subscribing, you’re gonna be subjected to social media only. If they pull the plug on that, there goes your connection.
2: BUILD YOUR SUBSCRIBERS
Well, looky here. This woman should be working on her schoolwork, but she’s signing up to be a part of your tribe! She wants to see what you have to say. Just don’t spam her or him! Look, if social media pulls the plug, you’ll need to know how to get in touch with your readers. If they’re fans, they’ll wanna formally hear from you. Choose your mail service and set it up. I struggle with the template I want to use for my newsletter, but please, don’t let anything come between you and building your tribe of readers. When you do signings, and you will, hand someone a freebie, get a face-to-face purchase, always snag an email. Ask them to sign up on your website. Take them there or enter it for them. I like doing it digitally. I don’t have to worry about deciphering handwriting and it’s instant. Again, rely on social media for interaction, not the connection. Yes, you connect with them there, but you cannot lose your base because they leave social media or social media pulls the plug. You should have a way to connect to readers via email. They’ll be able to see what’s new in your life via the newsletter as a whole and all at once. You’ll stay in their minds shall they choose to leave social media, temporarily or permanently.
1: GET THE WORD OUT!
Loooook. I hate to be morbid. I really do. But baby, it’s time to market that book. Even if it’s incomplete or complete, you gotta get the word out. Everyone should know you’re writing a book, and they should know it’s out! Why do you think there’s a skello sitting on top of those books? Hanh? Cuz the author stopped caring or never did. The book died, lost traction! Well, pull it back on the road, but don’t let it happen! Don’t just sell your books, but sell yourself. Put yourself out there. Also, determine where you want to sell the books. Spread your wings beyond Amazon while including them. Just don’t let the time run out like that hourglass beside the book. Look! There ain’t even no sand in that glass! Sand—snatched! Time ain’t coming back, hence the skull. But it never has to be like that for us, unless you ignore your own book. When you preplan all these steps, I assure you, the book will get written. You’ve paved the way for it like a parent does for college when their child is still in pampers. You should be so meticulous in planning, that if your book talked back like a child and said, “Mommy (or daddy), I’m not going into production,” you’ll look at it like, “Da funk you mean you ain’t going into production?! Do you know how long we’ve been planning for this moment?” If you can’t say this, then my friend, you will be hustling backwards, and no pimp has ever lined his hos on the corner without having the block picked out first.