Insights for New Authors

My name is Stephanie Paasch. I started my writing venture in 2018. I have released my first two books. I am working on a few more Sparklepants book project right now!

I get asked this question all the time, “What advice would you offer to a new or aspiring author?”

I have been answering individual calls, messages, texts and emails about this topic for the past year and a half. I knew this subject needed to be covered by next blog! So, here goes!

Here are some of the tips I have shared with other aspiring authors:
• Step 1 write daily and then re-write it several times. Your first draft needs perfected. Work on it like it is the most precious story you have ever read. Then write it again. And again… One of my books had 17 versions before I felt it was ready to publish.

• Step 2 join local and national writing groups in your genre. There are tons of groups on FB that are amazing, a wealth of knowledge… I am currently learning from 7 groups.

• Step 3 research best sellers in your genre. They are bestsellers for a reason, what draws your eye to the cover/ or the character/ or storyline?
Learn from the best and tweak your story to provoke the same interest in your book. I even took note of illustrators designs that I was drawn to (pun intended).
I took note of editors mentioned too.

I researched for about 2 years prior to writing my first book. I still have a lot to learn, and I love learning about other books and things that worked for them.
Reach out to authors, many of us like to help other authors! I private messaged a question to a fan page and that author e-mailed me the answers! I had read over a dozen of her books and didn’t think she would really answer bc she is a best-seller- big time author, but my words struck her and she felt a connection and offered her advice! That meant the world to me. I have bought 3 more of her books since then and will always be a huge fan.

All the other steps I worked through including:
I formed my own LLC and publishing house brand. I went the independent publishing route.

I sell my books on Amazon in paperback, hardback and e-book form. I sell paperback and hardback on my website.

I started a PO Box for all the registrations, banking, bills etc.

You will need to fill forms out for an operating agreement and a fictitious name form along with LLC forms on the secretary of states website. I also filled out both of my LLC names on there. I have an LLC for Author Stephanie Paasch and one for Tea Time Publishing. My CPA advised me to do it that way for future growth.

I have a business bank account at a bank separate from my personal bank.

I have a Square reader for credit card processing and I can e-mail invoices from their app.

I added merchandise for my in-person events. I have T-shirts, tea blends to go with my tea party book, puppy necklaces and earrings, keychains and other things that sparkle to go with my Sparklepants theme….

I made my own website, FB author page, Amazon Author Central page, YouTube channel, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest- it is a lot to keep up with! Building a brand is hard work but it will all pay off!

Take classes from your local chamber and networking groups- most offer free classes and are always looking for topics to cover- make a suggestion! I loved the classes I took on digital marketing, photography, and social networking skills!

Hire an editor, one you can be open and honest with and get someone who specializes in your genre. Ask for references of projects they have completed and actually read those books before you share yours.

Get a NDA- non-disclosure agreement contract. Have your editor, illustrator, layout person, beta readers, anyone who reads your unpublished manuscript, etc sign it before you share your manuscript.

Write your story multiple times. I re-wrote my first book 17 times before I felt it was ready to be shared. I re-wrote my second one 12 times.

Record yourself reading your manuscript out loud. That will help you hear where you need to make any changes before you get your final draft and spend a ton of money on ordering copies to sell.

I used Bowker to buy my ISBN and barcodes. You can get them from a bunch of places but all of the authors I questioned and my layout publisher all recommended Bowker.

Yes, Copyright your books with the Library of Congress.

I hired a layout editor after I had my grammar editor perfect my manuscript and a mock-up of how many sentences I wanted on each page.

Ask illustrators for a character sketch. Provide a paragraph of character descriptions to each of the illustrators you wish to get a sample sketch from. Be prepared to pay for the sketch- no-one works for free.

Before you start the illustrations for a children’s picture book, have your book page size and general layout of words figured out. I printed blank backgrounds with the words for each page as I envisioned the story to look and let the illustrator determine the layout of the artwork and overall design. I picked my illustrator for a reason and needed to give her creative freedom after selecting her for the project. I sent her a file of the general layout and she made it beautiful, just like I knew she would.

My Standards:
Children’s picture books, 9” x 9”, word count 700 to 1k
Children’s early readers, target 6-8 yr olds, word count 4k to 5k
Children’s chapter books, target 8 to 11 yr olds, word count 20k to 25k
Children’s chapter books, target 11 to 14, middle grade topics, word count 50k to 100k

Work on your presentation skills. Give the schools a ton of reasons to invite you and promote your books to their students for you!

Research schools, libraries, local independent bookstores in your area, and any other stores and gift shops that make sense for your book…. No one else wants to sell your book as bad as you do, chase the dream but do your research FIRST…

Create a spreadsheet to track expenses and income for your CPA.

Plan on paying sales tax at least quarterly but talk to your CPA to get the % in your area to send in and for directions.

If you have a specific question that I can help answer, send it to me on the CONTACT tab! I love encouraging aspiring authors to chase the dream…
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The information in this post is just my opinion and not endorsed by anyone or any company except StephaniePaasch.com. Please seek legal advice on all financial questions.