Things I wish I’d known when I got published
I’ve written a lot of posts for Writing Wednesdays and in general about publishing. Most of you guys know how I got published, but for those of you who don’t:
Basically I began posting a book called The Kissing Booth back in 2011 which I posted online to Wattpad.com where it became super popular and then it was published in 2012 and I’ve since had three novels and a short story published. So yeah, that’s that.
If you want to read a more in-depth post about how I got published, click here for that.
I was seventeen when I got published. I didn’t have a literary agent at the time (I do now). I’d researched ‘how to get published’ before that, but it was all still very new to me. And I know that for a lot of you guys who want to get published someday, the whole thing can feel very scary.
For a post explaining how to get published, you might like this one right here.
Which is why I wanted to write a post with some of the things I wish I’d known when I got published.
You need a literary agent.
At first I thought I didn’t need one and an agent was like a sort of middle-man who helps you get a contract and takes a cut of your money (and like, they do, but they do so much more). But your agent is a super important person and I’m so happy with mine, and kind of wish I’d gotten an agent a bit earlier on in my publishing career.
You get an editor, publicist, etc. when you get a publishing deal.
I kind of assumed this, but wasn’t totally sure until I was published. You’ll get an agent, a publicist, someone to make you a cover, a copy-editor… There’s a whole team of people in the publishing house who help you out with the whole process. You get a lot of support (especially if you have an agent!)
You have to do some self-promotion.
I did a lot of self-promotion around Rolling Dice, and practically all the promotion around Out of Tune was what I did. I was used to this from self-publishing on Wattpad. To be fair to the publishers, they have a lot of other authors and books to promote and it certainly can’t hurt for you to Tweet about your books.
You earn money from a bunch of different sources.
Your advance, your royalties, bonuses, translation rights, movie and dramatisation rights, merchandising… I didn’t really know how the breakdown of money worked, but basically, you earn royalties (a percentage) each time you sell a book. These add up and when you earn out your advance, you earn those royalties.
You may not ever earn royalties. (Yeah, some authors may not ever earn out their advance to be paid their royalties.)
The advance may be only a few thousand.
(I say ‘only’ – it’s still great to earn anything from writing!) But you see all these headlines about six-figure book deals and in reality, many (if not most) authors have an advance in the region of £5-10,000.
You can charge for events you do, including school visits.
I had NO idea about this until a few years into my publishing career. I was always excited whenever I was told I’d be paid for something I was doing – an article, or speaking at event, but I’ve since learnt that you’re totally within your rights to ask to be paid for these things. Sure, you can do them for free – but you need to earn a living somehow, and you’re allowed to set yourself a fee and ask for it. Or at least ask for expenses to be paid.
If you’d like to know more about how authors earn money, including how royalties and advances actually work, check out this post.
Just because you’re published, doesn’t mean the pressure is all gone.
If anything, I felt there was more pressure to write – and more importantly, write good things – once I was a published author. A publishing deal didn’t automatically make me feel like a good writer. People saying they liked my books, and a lot more practice at writing, made me feel like a better writer.
You might also like this post on how to get over your fear that your book sucks.
A lot of authors have a second job.
Or maybe writing is their second job. Basically, a lot of authors don’t actually earn enough just from writing and events to be able to live off. (Again with the money, I know.)
You don’t actually have to worry about a cover or things like that.
Like I said earlier in this post, you get someone who creates the cover. You get someone who does all the formatting for the ebook. You get someone who edits. You get someone who sells the foreign rights. Seriously, there are people for pretty much everything, and you get a lot of input, but they take a lot of the worry away from you. (I know this is kind of reiterating an earlier point, but it’s one of the things I’m asked about most with regards to publishing.)
Movie deals are rare, and movies are rarer.
Quite a lot of books have the rights sold for TV/movie adaptations, but very few are actually made into adaptations. Often, the rights are bought up, tied up for about two years, but there is no obligation for whoever bought them to actually make the movie. Also, I’ve been told that Hollywood will buy up like, a dozen of the same kind of thing, but only work on one, and if that one isn’t yours, your movie rights are gone for quite a while before you can get them back.
It usually takes about eighteen months from signing a publishing contract to actual publication day.
Sometimes it’s sooner (in my case, a lot sooner: the ebook was out within six weeks) but a year/eighteen months seems a pretty standard time, from what I’ve been told.