Today, we’re excited to have Steve P. Vincent with us. His first novel, THE FOUNDATION (Momentum), was just released on September 11. It’s the story of a corrupt think tank, The Foundation for a New America, that enlists a Taiwanese terrorist to bomb a World Trade Organization conference. The US and China are put on the path to war and star journalist Jack Emery is pulled into a story far more dangerous than he could have imagined.
John Birmingham, author of the Axis of Time and Disappearance trilogies has this to say:
Great fun. A two-fisted thriller, escaped from five minutes into the future.
Steve hails from FutureLand (a/k/a Melbourne, Australia), where he lives with his wife in a “pokey apartment” in which he’s forced to write on the couch in front of an obnoxiously large television. When he’s not writing, Steve keeps food and flat whites on the table working for the man. He enjoys beer, whisky, sports and dreaming up ever more elaborate conspiracy theories to write about. He’s studied political science and history, and his honors thesis was on the topic of global terrorism. He has traveled extensively through Europe, the United States and Asia.
Advice to My Newbie Self
I never thought I’d make it. After sending off my manuscript, I waited for the “thanks, but…” response. Instead, I got acquired.
Without an agent or much of a “network” of writer friends, I’ve had to rely on sites like WU, the patience of staff at my publisher, and the kindness of strangers for advice. I’ve been overwhelmed by the willingness of others to help me out.
This is my attempt to give back: Ten pieces of advice that would have been useful as I stared into the floodlights of publication for the first time. It’s based on lessons learned on the path to publication, which I’ve written about on my website.
- The pitch itch
After submitting your manuscript, it will take longer than you’d like to hear back. You’ll be tempted to mash refresh on your email inbox, hoping for an answer. Don’t. Instead, estimate how long you think it’ll take to hear back, then double it. It mightn’t take that long, but if it does you won’t go mad waiting. While you wait, start work on something else.
- Dream the impossible dream
Getting published is difficult, but you’ve been showered with so much negative juju that you’ve developed a protection mechanism: the anticipation of failure. You know it: “The industry is tough, getting published is impossible, new authors have no chance.” But publication is difficult, not impossible. You need a good book and you’ll be up against lots of competition, but you’ve got a chance.
- To be, or not to be…
You shouldn’t be afraid of asking questions throughout the publishing process. If you don’t have an agent, this is particularly important. It’s your book and you have a right to understand what’s going on. Get your contract looked at, negotiate, understand the steps, have your say. Your publisher won’t resent you for asking any question. They’re professionals.
When you’re editing, it’s fun to picture your editor as a giant, manuscript stomping, red pen-wielding monster. But you know the truth. Your editor is smart and respectful, loves your book, and is working their behind off to make it better. You know those giant story-killing holes that you’ve missed until now that make you feel a little bit silly? Your editor can help you find and fix those.
- It’s not you…
You don’t like letting go, but take a break from your work while it winds its way through being acquired. Going back to it fresh after a few months will give you an amazing, fresh perspective. You’ll see things you didn’t see before, including problems. You’ll still have a granular understanding of the characters and plot arcs, but the dumb things will stick out like a pink battleship.
- But I don’t wanna go to school!
Writing isn’t always fun, and neither is editing. When you receive your structural edit, there’ll be lots of positives, but you’ll also be challenged to fix some things and think differently about others. The manuscript you thought was “finished” when you submitted it is anything but. Just remember that while this stuff is hard work, it is also a privilege. It’s also what you signed up for.
- Let it be, let it be…
Trust your editor, spot the problems, fix them, and put in the work. Then know when to let go. You could keep playing with your book forever, but the law of diminishing returns kicks in. Stop tinkering. It’s good. Sooner or later your publisher is going to want you to hit send on the final final copy. Besides, you’ve got other books to write, sales to make, yachts to sail, and mansions to build. Right?
- The Mod Squad
Respect the array of professionals that your publisher brings to your book. From editors to illustrators to marketers to corporate, seeing the whole orchestra in action is great. Not all books succeed, but this army of support staff gives your book every chance to. Help out when you’re asked, input where you can, let them get on with their jobs, and do your job well.
- Brand schmand?
Publishers handle marketing, right? Wrong. They will do their thing to market your book, but if you pitch in as well, you might find something that works, too. Your publisher probably expects this from you as well. The console in front of you is confusing and you don’t know what buttons to press, but you owe it to your publisher to mash the buttons madly.
- Stop, smell the roses, then get back to work
You set your sights on writing a book and getting it published. Well done. Celebrate and have a few weeks off—then get back to work. You want to get more books published, make some money from them, and maybe try to make a career out of this. You’ve got your wings, but now there’s more flying to do. Reset your goals and get on with it, remembering the lessons you’ve learned.
Any additional lessons you’ve learned? Let us know below!