Five Things I Wasn’t Prepared for When I Got My Book Deal

Getting a book deal is a magical, dream-fulfilling thing.  You cheer, you dance, and then you get down to work.  But this ‘work’ may not be the work you anticipated. Here are a few things I wish I would have been a little more knowledgeable about:

1.  Revision. This is where you say, “Becky, you are an idiot. You knew you’d have to revise.” I did know, but I wasn’t prepared for the difference between an editor-guided revision versus a critique partner revision. I’m actually planning an entire post on what I’ve learned from my editor because there is just SO MUCH STUFF.  But to keep this short, an editorial revision is deep.  You look at your characters, their interactions, their motivations, their world, their interaction with the world, their history, how their history effects their decisions, etc., etc., etc.  If you thought you knew your characters before, well, by the time you’re through with an editor-guided revision, you will know the color of their pocket lint. 

2.  How much I suck as a writer.  I felt like I had a pretty good handle on my writing ticks. I did…at least the ones I knew about.  But apparently, I cheat on transitions between paragraphs and I overuse similes. I think the only way to identify your ticks (most of them) is to have a lot of people read your work before you query or submit.

3.  Promotion.  I thought promotion was something you did six to eight months before your pub date.  It is.  But it takes months to plan, build, and execute a promotional campaign, and there are a LOT of platforms to consider like Facebook, Twitter, author websites, Pinterest, Goodreads, and so forth.  Getting the same message with a consistent look is a tricky process too!

4.  Taxes.  I felt lucky to get an advance. Until I tried to figure out how to pay taxes on it.  I took my agent’s advice and hired an accountant who is familiar with artists, authors, and small businesses. After that, there wasn’t very much advance left.  For more information, I found these articles really helpful: here and here. Now I’m looking for write-offs.  I totally wish I was kidding. 

5. Expectations. As soon as you have a blurb in Publisher’s Weekly, people begin voicing expectations. It’s awesome and it’s scary. Your mom is sure it’s going to be on the NYT Bestseller list (haha). Your cousin wants to buy a copy for a friend’s neighbor’s son because she’s sure he’ll love it.  Strangers say they are excited to read it (hooray!) OR say they’ve read it and hated it (wha?!?).  You want to deliver on all the positive expectations and exceed the negative ones.

And (see that’s me cheating on a transition),when I come across anything else, I’ll be sure to post it here. 


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