As I said in my previous post, I wrote Next 9 by chance and out of necessity. My first novel is now available on Amazon as eBook and paperback and still I found it unbelievable that I was able to publish a book. This project took me 4 years to complete, and I wonder if anyone outside of my circle of friends will buy it. But it really doesn’t matter to me how many people read it: I’ve learnt so much from the process of publishing this book, and I would do it all over again.
Here are the 6 things I learnt along the way:
1. Writing the story is the easy bit.
Everything that comes after is incredibly hard. Editing is a painful, but necessary process. I had to delete several passages, and re-write others. Then came the search within the publishing industry in Italy, the choice of a publishing format, of a literary agent (two, in my case!), the cover design (actually two!), the translation and the promotion. In the end, I invested less time in creating the narrative, than I did in anything else.
2. Publishing a book is not a solo effort.
Like any other successful project, you need a team, a strategy, and execution. The image of the solitary writer, looking out the window for inspiration and publishing a book by himself is a fiction. Publication is a complex process, with lots of different phases to go through and complete successfully, and remember: no one is an expert at everything. Finding the right people to help you is crucial.
3. Work with professionals.
Much as your friends’ help is important, nothing compares to a professional opinion. I was convinced I had written something of little interest, which is why the novel stayed put on my computer for over a year. It was only thanks to Barbara Sonzoni’s opinion, and her experience in the publishing industry that I understood it was worth trying, and learnt what to expect when publishing my first novel. But choosing the right professionals wasn’t without its share of difficulties. (but that’s a story for another post).
4. Create your own Personal Brand.
The concept of a Personal Brand is a trending topic at the moment, and had it not been for my novel, I never would have grasped the true meaning of it. During the publishing process, someone told me: “Ana, you’re invisible online. If you want anyone to read your book outside of your circle of friends, you need to build yourself an image on social media and promote your work”. Thanks to that frank assessment of my online presence (or rather, my absence), I started working on my own personal brand, I launched a blog and started to use social media constructively (read here who helped me with this process) .
5. Don’t take yourself too seriously, but do believe in yourself (even a little bit).
I always knew I wasn’t working on the next great novel, and I never for a minute thought I would be the next J. K. Rowling. In other words, I didn’t believe in my work, or myself as a writer. And that was a huge mistake because it just delayed the whole process of publishing. The novel was always a low-priority project in my otherwise busy life. But at a certain point, I had to believe in it and put the work in.
6. It’s the journey that matters.
This may sound cliché, but it’s true: I would advise everyone to write a novel and publish it. What I learnt from this editorial project is invaluable. It’s been such an important personal journey, and no matter how the sales go, Next 9 has helped me discover my love of writing!