In the increasingly popular field of cozy mysteries, Jana DeLeon is a rising star. Her latest book series, The Miss Fortune Series, regularly hits the NYT Bestseller list every time she publishes a new book. Beginning as a technical writer ten years ago who penned fiction on the side, DeLeon put her no-nonsense attitude and dogged determination to work, finding the success that many authors only dream of. For the last decade DeLeon has given the same advice to beginning authors who want to make it big in the publishing world. Here are her best no-nonsense tips for getting the career you want.
Learn Your Craft
Study your craft, then study it more. Sure, everyone points out the latest great novel that turned a nobody into an overnight sensation, but that's lightning in a bottle. If you want a long career as an author, learn how to craft a novel. Even small things make a huge difference over 300 pages.
Editing is Crucial
At a minimum, hire a professional editor to review your work before publishing. If you’re brand new to writing, I suggest coughing up the funds for a developmental editor to help you strengthen your work. Never assume that you can edit your own work. Authors are the worst to review ourselves because we read what we meant to write and not what is actually there. If you have the funds, I highly suggest a proofread after you make changes for the edit. One, because even a great editor will miss things, and two, you will introduce new mistakes while making your editorial changes.
They Do Judge a Book by its Cover
Get a professional cover. If you’re not a professional graphic designer or a very awesome amateur, don’t even attempt to design your own cover. Readers are savvy and the first thing they use to screen books is the cover. An unprofessional book cover design makes readers think you haven’t put effort or money into other things such as craft and editing.
Don't be Too Eager to Jump Ship
Don’t quit your day job. Writing books is the arts and let’s face it, the arts are sketchy. You can be up one month and down the next. Before I quit my day job, I made sure I had made three times as much as the day job for two years, had paid off all my debt (except house), and had two years of bill money saved. If you’re worried about how to pay the rent, it’s hard to be creative. So many authors who quit jobs over the strength of sales over a couple of months’ time are looking for jobs again.
Treat it Like a Business
Publishing is a business. If you’re an indie author, you’re now an author and a publisher. Don’t neglect the business side of publishing. If you aren’t good at accounting and don’t want to be, then hire an accountant to handle your bookkeeping, tax returns and quarterly estimated tax payments. Nothing kills a creative buzz like problems with the IRS.
Keep the Faith and may the Force be with You!