Publishing World Wisdom from Anne Louise Bannon
Welcome back to author Anne Louise Bannon as she shares her publishing and writing world wisdom with us. Anne previously visited this space in her post Switching Things Up. I met Anne through our membership in the Blackbird Writers, a fabulous and supportive group of mystery, suspense, and thriller authors. She has published many wonderful books, which are featured along with her sage advice!
Today, Valerie Biel has asked me to answer two questions, both of which are totally legitimate.
The questions are:
1. If I could go back and talk to my pre-published self, what advice would I give?
2. What do I wish I had known before publishing my first book?
It is utterly important for new authors to know the answers, not because I’m any great fount of publishing wisdom, but because my experience may help them manage their way through the publishing morass. Any experience is good to share with new authors.
Let’s be real. Scammers abound out there, preying on our dreams. There are plenty of times when we get in our own way. And even in our current chaotic market, there are things we can do to make our lives less crazy. We can be smarter about how we approach getting our work ready for public eyes, and then try to market it. We need to develop persistence in the process, and get with other professional writers’ groups, such as the Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America. There are other genre-specific groups out there, as well. Even an experienced writer like me can learn from others, and I am always learning.
But at the same time, I’m kind of glad I didn’t know then what I know now. Yeah, there was a lot that I learned the hard way, like learning how to listen to critiques and how to trust my gut. But those lessons being hard-won have stuck with me in a way that simply being told those things would never have.
There’s the scene in the movie Back to the Future where Doc tells Marty that he does not want to know too much about his future – that it’s dangerous. I play with that in my time travel novel, But World Enough and Time. It’s the first of a planned trilogy, and the second book, Time Enough, won’t be out until next year. However, much of what is driving the bad guy’s behavior in the first book is that he knows something about his future and he’s trying to bring it about. That’s just between us, by the way. Other readers won’t find that out until the second book happens, but there are hints.
So, what would I tell my past self? I’m not sure I’d tell myself anything. There’s no point to telling myself to hang in there. I already was determined to do so and did. I wouldn’t want to say how hard it can be, partly because I wouldn’t want to discourage myself, and partly because I couldn’t possibly have understood that.
So, I guess the upshot of all this is, advice I’ve got. Email me and let’s either go back and forth. Or let’s sit down with some time and a good cup of coffee and we’ll talk. I want to hear your experience and if sharing mine will help you avoid some of the pitfalls and discouragement, then, yes, I will happily share it.
But that one golden nugget of wisdom that I’d wish I’d had? You know what? I think I have it after all.
It’s okay to make mistakes – you will recover. I did and have. It’s okay not to know how all this is going to go. Life seldom happens the way you expect it to, and more often than not, I’ve been glad that things turned out the way they did in mine. Writing is not unlike everything else in life. You keep writing and you keep going, and while there are a lot of disappointments, there are successes, too.
I don’t know if that’s worthy of Moses coming down from the mountain. I hope it helps, but if you need more, you’ve got my email address.
Anne Louise Bannon just released Death of an Heiress, book four in her Old Los Angeles series of historical mysteries, featuring winemaker and physician Maddie Wilcox. She also features on her blog fiction serials, and the current one is book eight in the Operation Quickline series, A Little Family Business. You can find out more about these stories and others on her website, annelouisebannon.com. Book nine in the Quickline series will start serializing on August 5, 2022. Or check out the wine blog she writes with her husband, Michael Holland, oddballgrape.com.
Submitted by Ann Dallman (not verified) on June 21, 2022 - 9:02pm
I enjoyed her comments--so right on. As for becoming a member of groups, SCBWI and UPPAA have been wonderful sources of both help and inspiration. As has been the amazing Valerie Biel!
Submitted by valeriebiel on June 21, 2022 - 9:08pm
Thanks, Ann! Your books are an inspiration!!
Submitted by Anne Louise Bannon (not verified) on June 23, 2022 - 2:09pm
Thanks for the kind words and the extra groups. There are so many and they help a lot of people!
Submitted by Saralyn (not verified) on June 23, 2022 - 3:25pm
Anne, your non-advice is great advice. Writing, like life, is delightfully unpredictable. We wouldn't have it any other way.
Submitted by gp (not verified) on June 23, 2022 - 4:11pm
All true. I advise new authors to join groups before publishing (as you say - Sisters in Crime, MWA etc). Also go to a few conferences and make friends!
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