Writing is a business. Here are some of the things I’ve learned along my writing journey that I wished I had known at the beginning.
- If you are going to go the traditional route of publishing (querying an agent, submitting to publishers…), you will find that it is a slow process with a lot of waiting. Use your time wisely and write your next book in the down time.
- Your book needs to be the best that it can be before you start querying agents/publishers. It is rare that you get more than one shot at an idea. Make sure your query and manuscript are as polished as you can make them.
- Agents/Editors/Publishers receive a lot of queries. They are looking for fresh ideas that will sell. Your manuscript needs to stand out in a pile of others. You need a unique hook that draws readers in. They are also looking or quality work. If you don’t follow submission guidelines, have something that’s riddled with typos, or don’t follow the conventions of the genre, you make it easy for them to move it to the reject file.
- Read everything you can get your hands on. Read books in the genre that you want to write. Make sure you know the conventions (rules/traditions) and word/page counts for your genre. Follow readers that you like on social media and watch what they do.
- You may be very fortunate, and your book is the next international best seller, but for every one that tops the charts, there are thousands or millions of other books that don’t. Dream big, but be realistic in your planning and your expenses.
- Writing is a business. It’s work. If you want to be an author, you need to put in the time to learn/hone your craft and market your book. But don’t get too bogged down in reading “learn to write” books that you never actually start writing.
- Rejection, bad reviews, and negative comments are part of the process. They stink. Nobody likes them, but you need to be able to learn from mistakes and keep trying if you believe in your work.
- Self-publishing and book marketing (even if you are traditionally published) can be expensive. You need to set your budget and plan your strategy and spending.
- Publishing is a business. Make sure you have a statement of work or a contract if you hire someone to do work for you (e.g., editing, formatting a book, designing a cover, planning a marketing promotion).
- Watch out for scams on social media. You will be bombarded with offers. If they seem too good to be true, they probably are.
- There is no other feeling like typing, “the end” on your manuscript. Celebrate. But this is really just the beginning. You need to make this work the best it can be. Editors, proofreaders, critique partners, and beta readers are invaluable. It is a rarity that anyone’s first draft is in a state ready to be published.
A Jules Keene Glamping Mystery: Book 1
There is nothing like finding a dead body, clad only in red satin thong, on your property to jolt you from a quiet routine. Jules Keene, owner of the posh Fern Valley Camping Resort in the Blue Ridge Mountains, is thrust into the world of the Dark Web when one of her guests, Ira Perkins, is found murdered in the woods near her vintage trailers. Jules quickly discovers that the man who claimed to be on a writing retreat was not what he seemed, and someone will go to any length to find what he left at her resort. Jules, along with her Jack Russell Terrier sidekick Bijou, has to put the rest of the missing pieces of a blackmailing scheme together before her business is ruined.
Jules’s resort, set in the heart of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains near Charlottesville in the quaint town of Fern Valley, offers guests a unique vacation in refurbished and upcycled vintage trailers. Hoping to expand her offerings, she partners with her maintenance/security guy to create a village of tiny houses, the latest home DIY craze, but a second murder of a reporter interrupts Jules’s expansion plans. Curiosity gets the best of her, and she steps up her sleuthing to find out what Ira Perkins was really doing and what he hid at her resort.
Through the years, Heather Weidner has been a cop’s kid, technical writer, editor, college professor, software tester, and IT manager. Vintage Trailers and Blackmailers is the first in her cozy mystery series, the Jules Keene Glamping Mysteries. She also writes the Delanie Fitzgerald Mystery series set in Virginia.