What happens when you’ve taken all of that college writing advice about pre-writing, drafting, editing, peer reviewing, proofreading, and revising? You turn in your paper to your professor, and the conversation usually ends.
But there’s one part of the writing process college doesn’t quite prepare you for, at least in my experience. It was never brought up or discussed at length in my undergrad or graduate programs, and the furthest the discussion ever seemed to get, was regarding the on campus literary journal or college newspaper, which is of course read by dozens of people.
I’m talking about getting published.
A few weeks ago, while catching up with my friend and author Kim Belair (her debut Pure Steele is out now via Blind Ferret), we were discussing our books… and that college doesn’t really prepare you for that final part of the writing process. The part where you’re published and your work is out there.
Maybe it’s an essay, maybe it’s a bit of journalism for a newspaper or magazine, perhaps it’s an article for a popular blog, or maybe you’ve secured a book deal. And now people are going to read it, and have opinions.
Here’s a list of my suggested classes for the upcoming semester. Professors and colleagues, take note. We graduated writers could have used these.
Eating Your Feelings 101: This is a core course that will be important, and you will refer to it throughout your post-publication education. You’ll learn how to internalize your feelings of sadness, rage, and confusion by devouring an array of delicious foods, none of which are even remotely good for you, as to give you comfort in your time of distress.
Included in the course are field trips to corner stores, pharmacies, and fast food restaurants. Here, one can learn how to stock up on pints of ice cream, remember the dates that holiday candy, be it Christmas, Easter, Halloween, or Valentine’s Day, goes on sale, and of course, getting your dollars-to-feelings worth at your local Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and in emergency (crave) cases only, White Castle.
Building Your Support Network 102: You can’t eat your feelings every single day. If you do, your health will decline and you probably won’t be able to write another book. This course will teach you the importance of building a network of support, colleagues and fellow writers who can be there for you when times are getting tough.
You’ll learn the importance of surrounding yourself with people who are a.) going through this at the same time you are and b.) have already been through it. Both will be valuable assets as you progress.
Learning How to Market Yourself 103: While your publisher is going to do a lot of work to get your book out there, what with a full sales and publicity crew at your back, you will still need to hustle.
This course will focus on getting your social media presence up and will teach you how to master interviews and discuss your book with your friends and colleagues without alienating and making them hate you.
Discovering How Not To Respond 201: As your work starts to get out there, people are going to leave comments about it on various social networks. Maybe it’s on a book website, like LibraryThing, Goodreads, or BookLikes, or a retail outlet like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Perhaps it’s on a blog, and your book is getting reviewed. Or maybe it’s on Twitter, Facebook, or any of a number of other social networks. Sometimes these comments will be amazing, and sometimes they are going to hurt.
Remember to not last out at people’s criticism. It fuels the fire, will get you worked up, and it’ll upset that person and that person’s audience. Take whatever valuable advice you can from them. Sometimes your strongest, harshest critics will give you incredibly insightful advice, provided you can read it all through the tears.
Wow, Arrested Development GIFs really nail this one. But yeah, move on, and remember what you learned in Eating Your Feelings 101. This course is only for people who tested out of the entry-level course, Don’t Read The Comments 200.
Advanced Nervous Crying 202: In the world of writing, Nervous Crying is absolutely an appropriate reaction to things. Sending your book to agents, working through acquisitions with a publisher, etc. This course will focus on the advanced level of Nervous Crying that comes with the oncoming publication date.
Okay Seriously, Stop Checking Your Amazon Ranking 203: This course focuses on the pre-publication buzz that will be building around your book before the book hits stores, and the importance of not loading up Amazon every single time a person tweets, blogs, or talks about your book in passing to you while out at the bar with friends. Nothing good ever comes out of it. Don’t go crazy stressing yourself out over book sales.
Learning Not to Hate 301: A class that focuses on post publication, this course focuses on the importance of not hating on other authors who are doing better than you are. You’ll learn about reasons why you shouldn’t compare yourself to others, why you shouldn’t keep checking Amazon rankings of other authors, and why you should seriously stop subtweeting that one author with a book that’s similar to yours.
The Zen of Audiobooks & Gym Memberships 302: Your book is out there. The publicity is winding down, the press isn’t really hitting that hard anymore. You’re relaxing and taking it easy.
However, after embracing all you learned in Eating Your Feelings 101, you realize its time to hit the gym and lose what you’ve been calling “book weight” to your friends, family, and significant other who has hopefully stayed by you despite the fact you keep eating all of their food. This course will focus on downloading audiobooks, signing up for gym memberships, and what treadmills will make you look the least ridiculous.
Conquering Your Fear of New Blank Pages 303: Now that the book is out there, it’s time to write something new. But that blank screen is absolutely terrifying.
This course will help you conquer your fears, and comes with free cups of coffee and access to WiFi.
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