A Year as a Published Writer: 10 Lessons and Reflections by Leonora Meriel
“The Unity Game” is science fiction with philosophy
WHAT IF THE EARTH YOU KNEW WAS JUST THE BEGINNING?
A New York banker is descending into madness.
A being from an advanced civilization is racing to stay alive.
A dead man must unlock the secrets of an unknown dimension to save his loved ones.
From the visions of Socrates in ancient Athens, to the birth of free will aboard a spaceship headed to Earth, The Unity Game tells a story of hope and redemption in a universe more ingenious and surprising than you ever thought possible.
Metaphysical thriller and interstellar mystery, this is a ‘complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel’ from an exciting and original new voice in fiction.
Reviews for The Unity Game
“A complex, ambitious and thought-provoking novel.” ~~ Kirkus Reviews
“Elegantly written, expertly crafted and a moving message. I found this book very hard to put down. Moving and poignant.” ~~ Lilly, Amazon US reviewer
“An engrossing, unique, and totally bizarre tale! I could not stop reading it once I started. Such a beautiful take on the afterlife, and its connection to those still living. A unity game, indeed!”~~ Brenna, Goodreads reviewer
About the Author
Leonora Meriel grew up in London and studied literature at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and Queen’s University in Canada. She worked at the United Nations in New York, and then for a multinational law firm. In 2003 she moved from New York to Kyiv, where she founded and managed Ukraine’s largest Internet company. She studied at Kyiv Mohyla Business School and earned an MBA, which included a study trip around China and Taiwan, and climbing to the top of Hoverla, Ukraine’s highest peak and part of the Carpathian Mountains. She also served as President of the International Women’s Club of Kyiv, a major local charity. During her years in Ukraine, she learned to speak Ukrainian and Russian, witnessed two revolutions and got to know an extraordinary country at a key period of its development. In 2008, she decided to return to her dream of being a writer, and to dedicate her career to literature. In 2011, she completed The Woman Behind the Waterfall, set in a village in western Ukraine. While her first novel was with a London agent, Leonora completed her second novel The Unity Game, set in New York City and on a distant planet. Leonora currently lives in Barcelona and London and has two children. She is working on her third novel.
The Guest Post
On 1 October 2016, I pressed the magical button on Amazon’s Create Space platform: Publish Book. Suddenly, my book was on sale. I was a published author. It felt so easy pressing that button. And yet, leading up to that moment was 12 months of hard work, financial investment, intense learning and wading through masses of information on independent publishing. A year on, I can now look back at the process with some perspective, and reflect on what I did right and wrong, and what I learned along the way. For anyone considering investing in their own career as a writer and going independent, here are some thoughts and pieces of advice to make the journey as smooth as possible:
Your name is in big letters on the front of your book. And it will be on all your wildly-successful subsequent books as well. But what does that name mean? What will readers think when they see it, or search for it on Amazon or Google?
Before you put your name out into the public domain, think about what qualities you want to be associated with it– and this will be your personal brand.
For example, I write literary fiction. So important issues for me are: beautiful design; highest level writing and editing; reviews from established sources; intelligent dialogue around the books.
When you have a clear vision of what you and your name represent, then you should refer everything back to this vision. It should help you decide your marketing choices, your cover and font choices, where you list your books. You are building a business based around your name – so make sure you are building something clear, defined and that entirely resonates with who you are and how you want to be seen in the public eye.
There are lots of shortcuts you can take as an independent author. Save money on a proofreader; cut out the 4 months it would take to hire a copy editor and make all the changes they recommend; don’t bother with an author website etc. In fact, a person could write a book in a day and have it published on Amazon by the evening. However, that book is not going to have gone through the processes required to be a professional product. Traditional publishers have entire departments covering editing, proofreading, cover design, marketing strategy, distribution, and more. The key to launching any book under your own name (or pen name) is – make it the most professional product that you can. You won’t start off with all the know-how of a publishing company, but if you do your best and are unwaveringly professional, then you will get close the first time you publish, and closer the second time. And that is close enough.
There are plenty of shortcuts you can take (saving months sending your manuscript to agents and publishers is the biggest one) – but never, never take a short cut that will lead to your book being less professionally written, edited, checked, designed, typeset, or produced in any way.
You wrote it – you are putting it out into the world. Be proud of it.
3-Emulate the Best
Every genre has its heroes. Stephen King for horror. Neal Stephenson for Sci-Fi. John Grisham for legal thrillers. In the indie world, Andy Weir, Hugh Howey and Jane Davis have succeeded to the top levels in their chosen genres.
Whatever your genre is, make a close study of what the very best writers in your area are doing. Note the cover design. Note the fonts. Note the typesetting style inside the books. Note the size of text. Note the book length and how long the chapters are. Do the chapters have names or numbers? Are they uneven or are they all 10-pages long?
As the best in their field, these choices will have been made to satisfy audiences of millions of readers. And they will represent the current best practice in that genre. Possibly the most valuable thing you can do as a new author is learn how to create a book using the principles of your genre-hero. Once you have done this, your book will be instantly recognizable to that audience of readers, and you will have a chance to gain traction in that field.
4-Know your Game Plan
Do you want to sell 10 million copies of your book? Or do you want to win the Nobel Prize for Literature? Maybe both. But you should know where you are heading before you get in your small boat and set sail on the sea of publishing. And you should also have a map – even a fairly simple one – of how to get there.
There are well-documented techniques for selling large amount of books as an indie author, and if this is your main goal, then do some research, pay for some on-line courses that will teach you how to do it, and follow the instructions. The starting point for this journey is an incredible cover that will be irresistible to millions of readers.
If your goal is to see your book on the shelves of Barnes & Noble, then make a game plan of how to do this. The starting point for this journey is quality. B&N won’t stock anything that isn’t produced to the highest standards.
Along with the author branding, know who you are and what you want. Then it will be a joy to build your career in your chosen direction, step by step.
5-Give it that bit extra
Your name is about to be in print. 50 – 100,00 words of yours are about to be read. The world is going to start forming opinions and sharing them widely. Have a look at the work and the brand you are about to release – do you have a small worry that something could have been a bit better, or something needed an extra set of eyes, or the page numbers should be in the middle, rather than on the left? If yes – do it now. The small things that took one step extra are often the ones I think about late at night before going to sleep and think – ‘I’m so glad I did that.’ Your book is going out there – give it the extra love it deserves and then let those millions of readers enjoy it.
6-Make safe choices the first time
If you’re reading this post, you’ve probably already found out what an enormous amount of information there is on independent publishing. A lot of it is contradictory. A lot of it is relevant for some genres and author branding strategies and not for others. When you’re making self-publishing decisions the first time – play it safe, and protect your money and time. At the simplest end of the solution, go with Amazon’s cover and editing services to produce a decent product. At the higher end, go to Reedsy.com and find a team of professionals to guide you. Whatever you are tempted by, take the safer choice the first time, and you can always go wilder with your second book when you understand the market better.
You’re going to spend hours and weeks and months on your writing career over the next few years. Marketing, promoting, connecting with other authors, writing the next book. Make sure you’re enjoying it! And figure out which bits you enjoy the most and make sure you’re doing more of them than the bits you don’t like. The more you enjoy it, the likelihood is – the more successful you will be.
8-Don’t expect to sleep
Once you’ve pressed the ‘publish’ button – that’s it. You are an entrepreneur. Or an authorpreneur, as it is now called. You are in charge of production (writing the books), distribution, marketing, design, communications and…. everything else! It’s going to be intense. It’s going to be incredibly fun. But don’t expect to get much sleep.
9-Get your family/close ones involved
Every entrepreneur knows the toll that running your own business takes on your family and friends. You are working 24 hours a day. You are obsessed with your sales and customer feedback. You are busy creating the next product. The best thing you can do is find some angles that can get your family and close friends involved. My partner loves it when I run promotions and he can see hundreds or thousands of sales roll in – so I get him involved with these and we all get excited and celebrate together. He’s less interested in the daily grind of garnering reviews and connecting with authors so I don’t talk about that too much. My mother loves to hear about book clubs and has persuaded her own book club to read my first novel. My daughter is my number one promoter on Instagram! Get everyone around you to be on your team in a way that is fun for them and beneficial for you. Then they won’t mind you spending all your time on your authorpreneur businesses – because they’re part of it.
10-Share what you have learned. Help the next writer to get it right.
By the time you hit the ‘publish’ button, you will most likely have received help and advice from a large number of published writers. One of the big surprises of my own journey was how generous independent writers were to share their hard-earned knowledge and experiences and to help out with hours of free advice and information.
Well – now it’s your turn. You might not know much yet, but you probably have some key facts that will help someone who has just finished their final draft and has googled “independent publishing”. Share those facts. Be generous. Help someone to not spend all their money on the wrong thing. Persuade a writer to use a proofreader. Point them towards Reedsy.com and the Alliance of Independent Authors (Alli). It works best together.
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