Some of the authors looked absolutely terrified to be sitting there with us. Others felt that this-is-my-15-minutes-of-fame-and-dammit-you-better-give-me-your-attention and were actually quite rude and pushy.
While we agreed that the event could have been vetted and planned better, there were a few authors who made it all worth while for me; pitching their books comfortably and naturally, catching our attention, and making lovely conversation with us. Sandra Brannan was one of those memorable authors. She was pitching her novel Lot's Return to Sodom and even brought some rock candy, in lieu of business cards. I can still recall the story she shared with us about the motorcycle gang...
Today, I'm thrilled to be sharing a guest post of hers, and helping her celebrate the upcoming release of Widow's Might - the third installment in her Liv Bergen Mystery series - which drops on August 7th:
What I Know Now That I Wish I Knew Then…
Writers ask me for advice, seeking the holy grail of an answer about how to get published, the secret to making that very important leap from writer to author. Pages and pages of blogs and books are dedicated to the subject, yet the secret continues to elude us, right?
The answer is certainly that there really is no secret. Understanding it’s a little bit of luck and that there’s no substitution for hard work will help a writer muster the patience publishing that first novel requires. Every writer has control of his or her destiny to a point and then it becomes Destiny’s decision on which of us becomes published authors. So ‘what I know now that I wish I knew then’ about three commonly given words of advice is this…
We’ve all heard this over and over and over, but what I didn’t know is how basic that concept applies to what I know. Like most people, I find other people interesting yet can’t imagine what I have done would be even remotely interesting to anyone else. But as I go across the country, I’m realizing how abnormal… strike that… not normal I really am. I thought everyone applied for a concealed weapons permit, handled explosives and drove heavy equipment at one time or another, ate what they hunted, and traveled with a survival kit, bolt cutters, and snake stick in the back of their vehicle. Now that I’m worldly, I understand my idiosyncrasies and instead fancy myself ‘western rural sheik’.
Read books, not just in the genre you’re writing, but in all genres. Most of us want to fit in while standing out. It’s human nature. To gauge the business of books, time must be devoted to what books are selling so you’ll know how to best position yourself for an agent and publisher. I had no idea the power of reading until I had the honor of being a judge for an international association and read 30 books in a row, only to be so motivated to take a week off to write what I believe was my best novel to date.
Most of us put so much of our time, effort and emotion into that first book that we think it deserves our utmost attention. Sometimes we edit it dozens of times, only to wonder why we can’t get an agent’s attention. We muse that surely they’re simply being shortsighted and will eventually come around to recognizing this beautiful story, right? Try this. Write that first novel and move on to a second. Then a third. Maybe even a fourth. By the time you’ve written three of four novels and you go back to the first to reread, I can almost promise you’ll see what the agents are seeing. I wrote ten novels before getting published and I am so grateful I never sold my first, second, even third novel. No one could have told me that back when I wrote my first. Ask my husband… by the way, honey, you were right, I was wrong.
Sandra Brannan debuted as an author in 2010 with In the Belly of Jonah, the first installment of her acclaimed Liv Bergen mystery series. The novel was chosen as an Indie Next List Notable by independent bookstores and librarians across the country and went into a second printing just one month after its release.
Sandra’s success in the literary world led to her being named one of the top 25 most fabulous women by Black Hills Magazine. In 2011, the e-book version of In The Belly of Jonah landed Brannan on the top 100 mysteries list nationally.
The second book in her mystery-thriller series, Lot’s Return to Sodom, released June 1, 2011 and revolves around the legendary Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in South Dakota. Picking up right where Lot’s left off, Sandra releases Widow’s Might on August 7, 2012. She’ll follow those with Noah’s Rainy Day in 2014.
You can connect with Sandra on twitter and facebook.
Thanks to Marissa DeCuir Curnutte of JKSCommunications - Literary Publicity for making this guest post available.