Or … The joy of being a newbie writer.
July 1 marks the official release date of Rogue Gadda, the third and last book in the Dream of Asarlai series. It hasn’t even been two years since I got the email from the HarperVoyager publisher, Stephanie Smith, that began ‘Dear Nicole, I love your book…’
What a rollercoaster of a couple of years. I’ve written the other two books, edited and copyedited and proofed all three books and spent I don’t know how many hours promoting it all.
Then in August 2010, I delivered the manuscript for Rogue Gadda to the publisher and I found myself in the unique position of not knowing what I should be writing. No more deadlines. I still had work to do, based on editorial feedback, but the creative process was done.
It was at this point that I realised one of the great mistakes we make when we’re starting out on this mad journey to publication. We’re so focussed on the end result, on the dream, that we forget the joys of the present.
For example as an unpublished author, you can write anything you want. Any genre. Any style. Any voice. Experiment. Go mad. Let the muse take you to far off lands.
Once you’ve had that first novel sale, however, you suddenly have this thing called a career, and career comes with restrictions. Publishers have expectations. They’ve signed you to contracts, established marketing plans. They’ve started to brand you, and they need that brand to continue.
Readers have expectations. They’ve invested time and money in you and now that they love your work, they want more.
So suddenly, you’re having to make decisions. Sure, that fabulous rolling epic fantasy looks GREAT, but perhaps you’re better off sticking with the urban fantasy genre you first published in. Or you want to write some short stories in your world but oops – the contract says the publisher owns the world and you can’t. Or you have a fabulous idea for a YA book but damn it – no point writing THAT until you know you’ve got more than one book, so you can establish a career as a YA writer…
Then as an unpublished author, you don’t have to worry about promoting yourself. You don’t have to spend money on creating bookmarks and posters for events. You don’t have to attend conventions to meet with folks. You don’t have to spend hours each week writing blog posts or contacting review sites or interacting with readers (and don’t think signing with a major publisher saves you from all this – IT DOESN’T!)
Then there’s the fact that as an unpublished author, you can sit back and watch the current upheavals in the publishing industry with interest but without feeling that every bookstore that closes is going to ruin your career. This might be contentious but honestly – if you don’t have to chase a major publishing contract right now, I’d suggest you don’t bother. Sit tight for a year or two, perfect your craft and wait for the dust to settle.
Does any of this mean that I’d give back my contract, or that I’m not trying for another one? Absolutely not. Being a contracted author is hard, hard work but it’s also the most fun I’ve ever had. I love my books. I love my world. I love that other people love my books and my world.
But there are days that I pine for the time when I didn’t have a contract, when I didn’t have a career to nurture and I could just write what I wanted.
Great days, my friends. Great days.
Giveaway question – if you could write anything, what would it be?
Nicole’s favourite response will win a copy of Rogue Gadda.
Rogue Gadda cookie
Connor handed it over carefully, making sure he didn’t touch her. The slightest contact of skin on skin would be enough to have his power draining into her and disappearing forever.