The joy of selling your first romance novel is unparalleled. Whether you’ve been writing for months or years, it’s a hard earned achievement and you deserve a huge pat on the back. You’ve accomplished something most people only dream about. Here are ten steps to celebrate selling your first romance novel.
#1 Take a day to celebrate the accomplishment. You may, at this point want to share the news with friends and family, it’s recommended to keep your achievement to immediate family and save the big news for just another day or two. Why? Because there’s actually a lot of planning to do at this point and you’re going to have a lot of questions. Simply taking the day to relish the news and celebrate with your immediate family will help give you some perspective and time to figure out the answers to those questions before they’re asked.
#2 Reward yourself. Did you promise yourself something when you published your first novel? I promised myself a ring when I contracted with my first agent. Every time I look at my right hand I remember signing that contract and the joy I felt knowing I had good representation. Now you don’t have to buy yourself a ring, you can go to the spa, buy yourself a new pair of shoes, go out to lunch with your friends, the point isn’t to spend the money you just earned but to reward yourself for your accomplishment.
#3 Create a writing plan for your next book. Sitting back and resting is fine if you don’t want to make a living writing romance, however if this is your chosen career path and dream, then the next thing you absolutely want to do is get working on your next book. Publishers like to know that you’re an author that can produce and if you can pitch your next book before your first is published then they’re going to be responsive and you’re going to get your next book contract/deal rolling and that means a consistent income.
#4 Take a look through your old manuscripts and see if anything is salvageable. If you’re like me, you have a stack of old manuscripts, some complete, some partials, that are collecting dust. Pull out your old manuscripts and see if any meet the needs/guidelines of your current publisher. If so, polish them up and pitch them to your publisher. (Be sure to ask your publisher how they’d like to be contacted and if they’re interested in receiving additional submissions from you before you assume.)
#5 Share the good news with everyone you know. This step can be taken at the same time you’re communicating with your publisher about the future. At this point you may have the publication date for your novel, or at least an estimate and you’ll have a plan for the future. People are going to want to know when and where they can buy your book.
#6 Publish the news. If you have an author website or blog, share the good news. You’ll repeat this process several times, when you have a publication date, when you have the cover art and when you have a blurb and a link to buy your book. Promoting your first book is a HUGE job and the more book sales you have, the more likely your publisher is to buy more manuscripts from you.
#7 Make sure you have PLENTY of time in your schedule for edits, revisions, and communicating with your publisher. You may think that once you have a book contract the hard work is done but it’s only just begun. Your publisher is going to want several rounds of revisions. Make sure you have the time to turn these revisions around quickly.
#8 If you don’t have a website, get busy creating one now! You’ll want the online visibility and the ability to promote your book. If you don’t know how, or don’t want to, create your own website, check out other author websites you like. At the bottom of the website is usually the name of the person or company that created it. Or you can simply contact the author and ask who created their website.
Creating a website doesn’t have to cost a lot. WordPress is a blogging platform that can be easily customized including a static front page, sidebars to post links to your books and a whole lot more. And WordPress is easy to use. You can find a free template you like and simply outsource the customization of your template or have a custom header created for less than $100.
#9 If you don’t already, start participating in industry groups. Join RWA, participate in romance industry forums and blogs – always linking back to you website. Get the word out and enjoy the prestige of being a published author by participating in a unique community of people.
#10 Share your knowledge. Whether you spent months or years trying to get published, you can relate to the struggle and you know that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people still experiencing the struggle. Share your experiences with others so they can be inspired and educated on the process.
Getting published is a huge accomplishment. Enjoy it and set yourself up to continue selling books and signing book contracts. Don’t let the dust settle but keep your publisher in the loop and sending them manuscripts that fit their guidelines. If you have other manuscripts that don’t fit your current publisher’s guidelines, let them know, give them right of first refusal and then use your published author status to pitch to other publishers. Share your good news, share your experiences and enjoy yourself! Congratulations!