Members’ stories: Jennifer Anton – 30 days until publication

What I Know Now: 30 days before the publishing of my debut, Under the Light of the Italian Moon by Jennifer Anton

Writing is a journey. In the fourteen years since I picked up a pen and wrote the questions that would become my debut novel, this is one thing I have learned. The process itself can be a burden and a joy. Here’s what I can tell you today, 30 days before my debut novel launches. This is my advice to new writers.

1. You must write the book: Seems obvious, right? But why do you have the novel in your head and not finished on your computer? Writers write, so go do it. Yes, it took me fourteen years to get mine done so I may not be the model, but I never gave up. Now, I’ve learned about techniques to make it so much easier to get first drafts done. Learn about sprinting (2 sessions @25 minutes per day should net you at least 1500 words) and Nanowrimo (kick out 50k words with great support and tools for free in November!). Remember, only YOU can write the book in your heart, so you MUST write it. Schedule it in. Get it done.

2. Invest in your products—you and your book: If you are going to take your time on anything, have it be saving to invest in the quality of each element of your book. Get training in your craft. Once you have the first/second/third draft done, invest in a strong developmental editor. I used two – Sally Orson-Jones, who works with Sarah Waters and Angela Meyer, who edited The Tattooist of Auschwitz and Cilka’s Journey. If you are self-publishing or hybrid publishing, hire the best cover designer you can afford in the genre. Quality matters. Don’t skimp. If it takes you longer to put the book into the world because you can’t afford editing or good design—save until you can. Be as proud as you can be of the output.

3. Prioritise your investments – There are a lot of companies out there that want your money, but might not give you the return on the investment. I’ve taken courses and gotten almost nothing out of them I couldn’t have found for free on YouTube. I’ve also purchased trainings I watched over and over again because the information was so useful (i.e. InkersCon). Make an annual budget for your writing/marketing you can afford and be choiceful about where you put your money for the maximum impact.

4. Define what success looks like to you, then go for it: Do you want a contract with a big publishing firm and a career as a paid author? Do you want to have your book leave a legacy on the world? What matters to you? I wasn’t ever sure I wanted a traditional book deal with a big 5 publisher. As an international marketer for my chosen career, I felt traditional publishing looked gatekeeperish and top heavy. But going it alone didn’t appeal to me either. Luckily, I had built relationships with authors and one who had read and loved my book introduced me straight to her publisher, who was a small independent. It worked for me because I love marketing and wanted more control over the end product, but didn’t want to be alone. I might change my mind for book two. It’s up to me! Keep networking and learning about the various publishing alternatives and choose the one to meet your goals.

5. Enjoy the journey: I keep saying my novel was a gift to me from my ancestors in Italy whom the book is about. Every year, every research trip, every moment helped reveal who I was, and I grew so much while writing this novel. I’m eager to see what I’ll learn from the next part of this crazy ride I’m on with Under the Light of the Italian Moon. I love all the people it’s connecting me to. I love seeing my words reflected back and analysed by readers in reviews. Through the ups and downs of writing– I hope your writing also brings you joy! Make no small plans!


Jennifer Anton is an American/Italian dual citizen born in Joliet, Illinois, and now lives between London and Lake Como, Italy. A proud advocate for women’s rights and equality, she hopes to rescue women’s stories from history, starting with her Italian family. Under the Light of the Italian Moon is her first novel, based on the lives of her Italian grandmother and great grandmothers during the rise of fascism and World War II.

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