Someone told me recently that I live the dream. I’ve been a full-time writer for a while now, and just landed my first book deal last month. Currently my novel The Automaton of Miss Ada Stirling is being released weekly as a JukePop serial, and if it’s popular enough it will be released into bookstores and libraries. True, I’m not scheduling book signings or seminar appearances, but things are finally starting to look up. So what’s it like after someone decides to take a gamble and publish your work?
1. Editing. So much editing. As in, I miss the days when I used to look at a blank white document and wonder what would come next. Of course there’s nothing stopping me from writing new stories. . . but it’s a lot harder with deadlines and drafting. I need every chapter to be perfect as I release it to keep up my reputation (and popularity). So now after I get out of bed, I spend several hours reviewing my writing and fixing it up as well as I can.
2. Paranoia. I’ve had to learn to look at my ratings only once or twice a week. I have an analytics page on JukePop that tells me how many people are reading my book, what their demographics are and how long they spend on each chapter. Every time a new person votes for me I get an email that makes me feel like Automaton just got accepted all over again. . . but when a new chapter sinks in votes, I feel like I’ll be swallowed up in disillusionment, working hard on my novel to please an audience that doesn’t exist. I also keep catching myself comparing my novel with other JukePop novels, cheering when I see how far ahead I am of some and cringing when I see how far behind I am of others. Publication is a serious competition.
3. Sudden expertise. I’m still new to the Steampunk genre. I heard of it only a few years ago, and just got interested in it a few months before I started writing Automaton, which was originally supposed to be futuristic science fiction. Now I feel like I know everything. I listen to Abney Park every day while editing and get excited at the mention of cogs. After all, you could say I wrote the book.
4. It’s complicated. Automaton is not available in libraries and bookstores yet. You couldn’t purchase a copy online even, and the only place where you can find it is obscure to most people. So am I really a published author? I’m not entirely sure. But I’m leaning toward yes—my book had to be accepted by an editor on a platform that doesn’t blindly accept anything. There are strict guidelines that I need to adhere to when preparing my chapters, and it is promoted alongside other books. There’s even the possibility of getting paid, if it’s popular enough. But it’s a small start.
5. Your rights are important. Most people are aware of that fact, and one of the biggest reasons people want to avoid being published traditionally is the loss of rights. If your book doesn’t do well on the platform that accepted it, you might have screwed yourself over by signing that contract. But flexibility varies. When signing my JukePop contract I was relieved to learn that my rights are still mine—I can still publish my book through other means, as I plan to to increase publicity and visibility.
6. There is still some glamour. At least, it hasn’t faded yet for me. The thought of being a “real” published author thrills me every time it comes to mind. I might not be famous. I might not even be earning royalties. But my book was accepted, and people I don’t even know are reading it and enjoying it. And that’s one of the best rewards I can think of.