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So You’ve Sold Your First Book: Now What

I just want to sell that first book, then I'll be happy. How many times have I uttered those words? Well I did sell and I am happy. But no one prepared me for the threshold I ultimately crossed. Oh, my published friends tried. Your problems don't end when you sell, they just change shape, the wise ones said. It isn't the solution, it's just the beginning. I didn't believe them. I thought for sure they just didn't remember the thrill of getting that phone call and the euphoria that followed. I was wrong.

And I'm here to tell you to be prepared. Do your research. Listen to what every published author out there has to say. Don't be like me and stick your head in the sand. Don't say, hey I don't want to think about a pseudonym, it's bad luck. Or I may never sell, so why read the RWR articles geared toward the published authors?

Pay attention. But don't just hear this time ... Listen!

Know your targeted publisher better than you know yourself! Know the going advance being offered to new authors, especially if you don't have an agent to guide you. If you accept an advance less than what is currently given, you've set a new standard. You not only jeopardize your own career, but the careers of those new authors who come after you.

Know the pseudonym policy. You may be asked to take a pseudonym ... it may even be phrased as publisher's preference. Know that you can fight to keep your own name if that's your desire, without jeopardizing the sale. It's called negotiation. You may not win, but you'll walk away knowing you asked for what you wanted. Better than giving up without making the effort.

Know what the make or break issues are for you going in. When the call comes you don't want to be caught unprepared.

Listen to everyone's advice and then make your own decisions! I always valued a published author's opinion, even sometimes more than my own. After all, they'd been there. They knew best, right? Wrong! They knew what was best for them. What they offered was advice based on their experience. What works best for one may not work best for another. I still value other people's opinions. I also know, a year and a half after that first sale, I have much, much more to learn. So listen to everyone out there ... and then make decisions that apply to you and your own career. Just because Jane Doe is offered a three book contract on her second book doesn't mean you will be too? it doesn't mean you won't? but it does mean you shouldn't insist you're equally deserving. There are always unknowns out there you know nothing about. Your career is unique!

The fact is, I didn't know any more the day after I got *The Call* than I did the day before, when I was still *unpublished*. That's the truth. So stop, look and listen. Absorb it all ... and then go with your gut. It got you this far.

About Carly Phillips

Carly Phillips

Carly Phillips started her writing career with the Harlequin Temptation line in 1999 with Brazen and she’s never strayed far from home!

Carly has since published more than 21 books and hit the New York Times, Publishers Weekly and USA Today bestseller lists. Her famous “Reading with Ripa” pick, THE BACHELOR was the first romance ever chosen for a nationally televised book club.

Carly currently publishes with Harlequin (HQN) and Warner Books in both hardcover and paperback. Carly lives in Purchase, New York with her husband, two young daughters and frisky Wheaton Terrier. Her favorite pastime is reading and she’s an avid ABC Soap Opera and Alias fan. Carly loves to hear from readers so feel free to drop her a line, email or snail mail at: P.O. Box 483, Purchase, NY 10577.