Erin shares her views and personal experiences of what it takes to become a published author from scratch.
Click the tabs below to view her responses to each title.
Beware the procrastination demons
Since I was ten I have been writing. I have written countless books that I began and then just stopped for one reason or another. It was frustrating because I had so many things that I wanted to put down and that I wanted to follow through with but I just couldn’t force myself to do it! Procrastination is real, people, and to be honest, when writing, it’s pretty typical. We all have lives and for some of us, writing is not our sole means of income. So if you have a job, chances are you don’t have time to sit down and write an entire book in a few months because time just doesn’t permit it. Forget throwing a husband and children in the mix because that’s a whole other hurdle.
My answer to all of this is, just do it! I know it sounds corny but it’s really a good slogan. Who cares how long it takes. We all have our everyday distractions but it can be done. Even if that means if you have an hour lunch at work, you use half of the hour to eat and then head back into the office and write the other half (that’s how I got most of my writing done). Get a support system. Maybe drop your kids off with someone or have your husband watch them while you get an hour of writing in. It can be done. Just do it!
How social networks are the key to good networking
I started out just putting small posts about how excited I was with having written a book. Then once I actually had a publisher and a release date, I created a Facebook Page for my book and I was shocked with all of the attention it got. Listen, I am not a salesperson so if I had to do what I am now doing on Facebook on my own, I’m not sure how good of a job I would do with it. I cannot stress it enough to you. It is so important to use every networking site that is available to you.
Twitter is a horse of a different color and often, not so cut and dry. So I would suggest really surfing the site and seeing where you will fit in. And It’s important that you follow any and everybody that you can. Anyone who will listen! Hash tag your book! It will catch on but you have to be prepared to put in the work because Twitter is not going to sell your work for you. You need to keep everyone informed every step of the way. Even if you feel like you’re being a pest, post anyway! Someone is listening and they will tell someone else. These sites are all about getting the word out and are MUST HAVES!
How to avoid the rejection blues
Before I was published with GMTA I had found a publishing company that had been written by someone that I knew. I worked with this company for a while. I actually was still writing my book while working with this company and to be honest, I have to credit them for the fact that I finished my book because they pushed me to get it done. I was excited to have a publisher because I knew how hard it was to be published by a traditional publishing house. Once I had finished my work and submitted it to the company I was overjoyed and extremely anxious to get my work out to the masses.
All of that ended however, when I got back from vacation and opened my mail. I was shocked to receive a letter from the company telling me that they were terminating my contract because my novel “did not fit with the company.” Oh Boy! I went from having my publication practically handed to me to being without a publisher and a bunch of family thinking that I would have a published book in a matter of months! That wasn’t going to happen.
At first I was angry. I felt like my time had been wasted. Why didn’t they tell me from the door that my writing style did not fit their mission?! Surely they had to know what my book was about from reading only a few pages, right?
So immediately, I went to Twitter and searched through all of the companies that had webpages of their own on Twitter. I queried those that would allow them without agents and sent my manuscript to companies that would accept it. Still no bites. Rather, no bites that I felt fit my needs anyway. Over and over again I submitted my work and was turned down. I almost had given up because, honestly, there is just so much beating an ego can take!
Now I can tell you that I am a published author with a traditional publishing house. I’m happy and extremely grateful that the process didn’t drag on forever.
I was dropped by my first company in August and picked up with my current publishing company in February. It seems like a long time but in publishing time, it really isn’t.
I say this just to say, don’t get down because someone said no. And don’t give up because then no one will be able to see your potential. Keep sending out your work, accept the rejection as a part of the process. There will be ‘no’s’, but there will be a ‘yes’ eventually. You just have to keep pushing.
How to make your characters believable
When I wrote my book, I wanted to make sure that my characters were real to the readers. If they were too silicone, I knew that I wouldn’t have a good book. I know because I hate reading a book and rolling my eyes because one of the characters did something that was so clearly not real!
So what I wanted to do was create a girl next door type of person. Someone who I could picture myself having as a friend because let’s face it, we have all had a book that we hated simply because we couldn’t identify. Like, EVERYONE in your book can’t be filthy rich! I don’t know anyone who is filthy rich! I had to have someone who we normal people could relate to. That’s what we as authors have to understand. Making a character is pretty easy. But making one that is real and believable is really hard. I have stopped reading books for that reason alone.
Develop your characters. Sit down and write everything about them. Right down to what they like to eat and how they like to dress. And when you HAVE to have the dreaded character who everyone HAS to hate, you have to develop them just the same. They have to be a believably horrible person. Not over the top (well in my opinion anyway). That’s all I can really say, work on developing your characters and they will be more real to your readers.
How to Write by the Seat of Your Pants: Outline or No?
Not only that, but also, you have to know where you want your book to go from beginning to end. That way you have a point of reference. If you should forget something and you have written an in depth outline you don’t have to worry about a thing. You can always go back and read what you wrote long before you actually started writing your book. Learn from me. I didn’t do that but as I started to write my second book I did write one and I’m glad I did. I already can see that there are far fewer inconsistencies than with my first book.
Also, you’ll find that you won’t spend as much time staring at your screen because you have writers block. If you break your book outline up by beginning, middle and end, you will know where you need to go and you’ll be able to do it much easier than if you were just writing freestyle.
What inspired me to write
I had two and three books going at one time. And then when I got a little older… my imagination got to working and I started making up a lot of stories(lies). Anything to make my life seem more interesting and exciting than it really was. And the lies were good too because everyone believed them! I used so much detail for things that were not even true that they were believable. It didn’t hit me until I was an adult (and no longer a pathological liar) that I should become a writer.
I have always been a dreamer. I daydreamed all the time and still do to this day. And because of that I knew that I could sit down and make all of my stories come to life. I wasn’t always happy that I couldn’t concentrate for longer than five minutes without drifting off but writing gave me a purpose to do that. In a sense, it was a way to be ok with my ‘ADD’-like spells of daydreaming.
There was a purpose. I was writing and it was ok for me to “dream” these things and then write them down and watch them come to life in the coolest way!
My favorite books of all time
- 50 Shades of Grey– Don’t judge me! I love the book. Christian Gray was my boyfriend in my head for 3 months or so. I kind of miss him to be honest!
- Friends and Lovers by Eric Jerome Dickey- He is one of my favorites and that book was one of his earlier works. It was passionate and gut wrenching! As a matter of fact, where is that book? I think I’ll read it again!
- The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia)– I read this book over and over again when I was in elementary school. I have a really over active imagination and this book really took me to another world. I think it was a little advanced for me when I was younger so I didn’t really get it until I was older.
- Any book by Rochelle Alers. And believe me, she has a lot of books so it’s hard to pinpoint any particular one that I have read!
- Soul mates Dissipate by Mary B Morrison– Mary is not afraid to take risks and her books are sexy and drama filled. Everything I love in a good book.
My book's soundtrack (movie version)
- Summertime (performed by Will Smith)
- That’s the way it is (Celine Dion)
- Irreplaceable (Beyonce)
- Just my imagination (The Temptations)
- Reflection (Christina Aguilera)
- If I was your man (Bruno Mars)
- Changes (Tupac Shakur)
- Mirrors (Justin Timberlake)
My Favorite Vacation Spots
My second favorite would have to be Jamaica. I’ve been there twice. Once on my Honeymoon and then again last year for my family trip. It’s beautiful and the people are nice. I’d probably go again but there are so many other countries I have to get to. Preferably ones that have beaches!
Who would I cast if my book was turned into a motion picture?
- Michelle Marshall – Jurnee Smollett
- Tyler Austin – Idris Elba
- Helen Marshall – Phylicia Rashad
- Tiara Jordan – Meagan Good
- Malcolm – Blair Underwood
- John Marshall – Keith David
- Chanel – Jill Scott
- Tiffani – Eva Marcille
- Mya – Zoe Saldana
My favorite foods
My favorite movies
- The Best Man
- the Fast and the Furious (pretty much all of them…except for Tokyo Drift. Totally missed the mark on that one!)
- The Hangover
- 28 Dresses
- You’ve Got Mail