Let me start out by saying I only know what I know, however, my knowledge isn’t based on my experiences alone. I know many writers (and behind closed doors, in “safe” environments, writers talk) and have been at this writing thing for about 13 years now, so my decision making is based on what’s happened to me personally but also what I’ve witnessed my friends going through. Like hell. And high water.
And I understand all the questions, because I’m pretty sure I asked all of them too, way back when I was using my phone to get calls not check my Amazon numbers.
So here are some answers:
You do this right by writing the book. And finishing the book. And then writing the next one. A website and a twitter account won’t get you to The End. You have to do that. And honestly, you’re just wasting your time with that piddling stuff when it’s all going to change anyway once your first book is out.
Yes, it’s hard. You can also learn almost everything you need to know about the business by befriending other authors and then sitting beside them and listening. Here’s a little networking tip, too. Don’t go with your hand out, go with your ears open. Authors are bombarded with requests. Ask your favorites what you can do forthem instead. (Read their books! Leave them reviews!)
Yes, commas are important but story telling comes first.
In the history of taglines, no matter how clever, I don’t think they’ve ever been responsible for selling a book. Neither have author photos, FB covers, premium foil-embossed 100 lb weight stock business cards or websites with moving parts. Some of those things might actually turn readers off.
And now, some advice:
Read. Read. Read. In the genre you want to write and in all the genres you don’t. Great books are the best teachers. Crappy books aren’t bad teachers either. Find books that speak to you then figure out why. Don’t feel guilty about the time spent reading either. Once you get published, a lot of that reading time goes away. Sadly.
If you think you don’t need an editor, you’re not ready to publish. Read that until it sinks in.
It’s great your mom likes your book, but she liked that popsicle-stick picture frame you made in third grade too. Liking your creative efforts is her job. Find someone with no skin in the game and ask them what they think. If you’ve been following along, one of those authors you befriended might even ask to see a chapter of what you’re working on. ONLY GIVE THEM THAT ONE CHAPTER. Not the whole book. You want to stay friends, right?
Lastly, don’t pay anyone to doctor your book before you submit it. Many of those people are going to leave you poorer in both book and wallet. I’m not talking about hiring an editor before you self publish, I’m talking about Joe Book Doctor who claims his course can turn you into the next bestseller for just four easy payments of $299. He can’t or he’d be writing best sellers too.