Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Life as a Debut Author - Guest Post Emma Jackson

I love inviting author friends onto my blog. Today, the lovely Emma Jackson, a fellow member of the RNA, is going to talk about her life as a debut author.

Over to you, Emma.

Life as a Debut Author

Your dream has come true – now what?

When your goal is to become a published author, it’s likely to be a long, hard slog and that moment of signing the contract or getting ‘the call’ shines like a pot of gold at the end of your sludgy rainbow. You battle through the slush pile and a publisher finally, finally, wants your manuscript (and maybe a second or third). It’s amazing and all your dreams have come true…


Where is the instruction manual?

If you have an agent, maybe this part isn’t so mind-boggling but these days more and more authors within commercial fiction don’t. I’ve heard it said that it’s easier to get published than to get an agent and we know how hard that is! So, if you don’t have an agent, you’re in new territory without someone dedicated to explaining everything to you and advising you accordingly on how to make the best start of your career. You probably expect there to be an editing stage or two but other than that, the reality of how your life is about to change will only become clear as time passes, and new challenges are revealed. I thought it might be helpful to lay out a few of the milestones I came across here:

Congratulations - now you are running a business!

Hold on, you might think, it’s all about the creativity for me. Well, I’m afraid I must burst that bubble. Of course, if you write, you do it because you love it. (Goodness knows you’d have to be majorly deluded to get into it for the money.) But, once you’ve committed to a contract with a publisher, you have obligations, deadlines, legal clauses to try to wrap your head around, tax to pay, and lots and lots of emails to deal with. Perhaps you imagined being an author under contract would mean you could finally find the time to drink tea and gaze out the window, waiting for inspiration because your talent has been validated and people would respect your creative needs? Hmm. Not so much. Instead, it’s more likely you will be hunched over your phone or laptop, agonising over how to word each email with your editor, whether it be about your account details for their financial department or organising the best time for your cover reveal on social media, which leads me nicely into…

Effective marketing or unicorns – which do you believe in more?

You have a hard-won deal to shout about and a cover and pre-order link to show off, so you are likely to take to social media and share it with everyone on the internet. Your publisher may or may not have a specific amount of marketing they want you to do – whether it means being present on as many social media platforms as you can stomach or simply making yourself available for a few days when your book launches. However, one thing is inescapable, unless you have signed a five-figure deal, the marketing will be left largely to you. Tread carefully. On the one hand, the internet and our smart technical gadgets make it a lot easier to market ourselves and our books. On the other hand, this means there is now a new, never-ending list of ‘to-do’s’ and the social media office never closes. If you’re not careful you can burn yourself out trying to promote your book. This may be a job but there should be a balance, because your career as an author has to fit alongside your normal life, just the same way your day job does (which you are likely to still have) and your responsibilities to family and friends and, of course, yourself still exist. Take a break, go for a walk, speak to people in the real world and put the phone down occasionally!  

Reviews – the Schrödinger’s cat best left in the box?

On a last note about keeping a healthy work life balance, I would just like to talk about the minefield of reviews. You want to know what people think of your book when it is finally out there in the public domain. After the creative expression of writing it, the thought of sharing it with readers was the point. Perhaps you imagined someone would read that really clever line you wrote in Chapter Sixteen and be moved to tears or laughter by it and how else will you find out unless you read reviews? But beware…where there are five starred reviews there will also, in all probability, be one-star reviews (particularly on the hellscape that is Goodreads). It’s a known phenomenon of our psychology that it takes five positive comments to repair the damage of one negative. Bad reviews can really knock you off you’re stride if you are a sensitive soul. And there is literally nothing you can do about them. Your book is out there and it’s scary because it’s going to get judged but you did your best so you may as well move on to the next story, or piece of cake, whatever makes you happy.

Finally, remind yourself at regular intervals that you achieved something amazing – it can be easy to forget as you get busier and busier. Be kind to yourself

Author Biography

Author of the Best Selling A MISTLETOE MIRACLE, published in 2019 by Orion Dash, Emma has been a devoted bookworm and secret-story-scribbler since she was 6 years old. When she’s not running around after her two daughters and trying to complete her current work-in-progress, Emma loves to read, bake, catch up on binge-watching TV programmes with her partner and plan lots of craft projects that will inevitably end up unfinished. Her next romantic comedy, SUMMER IN THE CITY, is due for release in June 2020.

Emma also writes historical and speculative romantic fiction as Emma S Jackson. THE DEVIL'S BRIDE was published by DarkStroke in February 2020.

You can find out news about Emma via her website or on: