Before being interviewed by my students on Skype, Erin Rhew has just shared her huest writer's post!
Thank you so much Erin!
Here is her website.
Thanks so much for hosting me today, Marie!!
Things I Didn’t Know About Being A Writer
I think most new writers start out a bit naïve about the process. When you look around, books just seem to sell. A big named author releases a new novel, and BOOM, it’s a bestseller. No one ever mentions all the behind-the-scenes mayhem that contributes to that bestseller or how many rejections that person received before he or she hit it big.
The first thing I didn’t know about being a writer was the process of publication. I just thought I’d write the next great American novel (as each writer aspires to do), and it would be published. Wham-bam! Just like that. But noooooo, there is a long hard road that must be hoed on the path to publication. First, a writer must send a query letter to prospective agents or publishers. And wait. Note: Waiting is the theme of a writer’s life, which is tricky for someone with ADD. Sometimes the rejections are instantaneous, and sometimes you receive them a year later. You think, “If only this person would READ my book, they’d love it.” And then, angels sing the day you get a request from someone to see more of your work. Elation fills you as you think this one may be “the one.” More waiting—sometimes as long as 6 months. And then there is the rejection—the heart wrenching, soul-crushing rejection. The person actually read your book and still said no. It’s a knife to the heart. But the day comes where someone says, “Yes,” and you jump up and down, squealing like a maniac, in the middle of a pet store. Or was that just me? ;)
I don’t think I realized how many people aspire to be authors. There are so very many of us. Thankfully, the process of publication has shifted. People have options for their books—traditional, small-press, self-published, and any combination therein. Some choose self-publication and end up with small press contracts. Some choose small press and end up with traditional contracts. While others choose self-pub or small press and are happy to stay that way. And some dabble in all—like Jennifer Armentrout. There are also new ways, besides querying, to receive contracts. #PitMad on Twitter and other similar contests are new avenues by which an author can get his/her work seen. I think it’s a special time for authors with this smörgåsbord board of opportunities and options.
Writing itself is a fairly solitary process. But after having been through it, I realized just how much support a writer needs. First, I needed a support team to help me get my writing done. I call them the Dream Team! They kept me on track and motivated while I wrote and then later as I queried. When I cried over rejections, they told me, “Stay the course! It only takes one ‘yes.’” I also needed help from my critique partners: Mary Waibel, Meradeth Houston, Michelle Pickett, T.C. Mckee, and Deek Rhew. Since they are all writers as well, they could help hone the more industry necessary portions of my piece (reduce adverbs, maintain a consistent POV, etc.). Once my book got picked up by a publisher, I received the help of professional content and line editors who shaped and molded my story into something better. And when the time finally came for marketing and promoting, I really needed other authors, bloggers, and book reviewers to help get the word out about my novel. So, what starts as a solitary endeavor grows into the work of an entire village.
Here’s a little slightly off-topic-but-still-related story: I didn’t know writing could lead you to your soulmate. Deek started out as my critique partner. I received one of his short stories to critique as I am the resident “grammar nerd” of our group. Editing his piece began a friendship that, over a period of time, grew into something more. Now, we’re married. Without writing, I would never have met him. So, being an author can change a person’s life in a myriad of ways! You never know where “the one” might be hiding! ;)
I think the biggest thing I didn’t know about being a writer is how much time I would need to devote to marketing and promotion. Even the traditional publishers are leaving most of the marketing work up to the authors. Gone are the days of authors being given high-powered publicists with their hands in cookies jars around the world. Now the authors themselves must do that work. It takes away from writing time. Whereas I used to sit and write for a solid hour, I must now promote for 30 minutes and write for 30 minutes. My process is slower. I’m not churning out the stories as I once did. Time flits away from me like a fairy I can’t seem to catch. I feel stressed, always behind. But at the same time, I’ve met amazing people. I’ve created lifelong friendships and invested myself in amazing people.
If you have written a book and are looking at any level of publication, I encourage you to pursue it. It’s worth the sacrifices. You’ll grow and change in ways you never imagined. And more importantly, you’ll never have to say you didn’t try. Always chase your dreams!