10 Things I Wish I Knew About Being an Author I Didn’t Know Before
The following first appeared as a guest post on Bookend2bookend.blogspot.com.
- Writing is hard. Well, that part I knew. But I thought it would get easier after I wrote and sold my first two young adult novels (HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES and FAMOUS LAST WORDS). It didn’t. It doesn’t. Writing gets harder. The more I learn about the craft, the better I want to become. I’m working on my third novel now and getting that first draft finished is tougher than ever.
- It’s never too early to start connecting with readers, bloggers, librarians, and authors through social media. I admit it. I was a bit late to Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads…you name it, I was late to it. But once I did start connecting with bookish types this way, I was sorry that I hadn’t done it sooner. Like a lot of writers, I tend to work in a bubble. It’s me, my computer, coffee, and tunes. The only conversation going on is between the characters in my head. It’s nice to be able to step away from that and talk, sort of, to other people who enjoy books as much as I do. Let me add here that I’ve found the book community to be incredibly supportive and that is an awesome gift.
- Once your book is out, you’re going to spend as much time promoting as you do writing—especially in the weeks right before and after your book’s release. It makes sense, right? You want as many people as possible to know about your books and for a first-time author, most—if not all—of the day-to-day promotion is left up to me.
- Reviews are a double-edged sword. While I truly appreciate each and every person that has taken the time to read and review one of my books, some reviews can be harsh. I thought I was prepared for that. I’ve received my fair share of tough criticism and rejection on the road to becoming a published author and I thought I’d developed a Teflon shell. Turns out, it still bugs me when some random reader gives me a two-star review that begins with “meh”. It’s not even a word! Let me restate. I appreciate all reviews, good and bad, but I’ve made the decision to (mostly) stop reading them.
- Being an author can turn you into a candidate for “What Not to Wear.” For me, most of last year was spent “in the bubble” working on edits and revisions of my first two published novels. I’m not complaining. It’s the kind of busy I dreamed of being for my entire life. But since most of my days were spent in the bubble, where no one could actually see me, pajamas and yoga pants became my go-to ensembles. Some days (too many, really) I only swapped out the former for the latter when it was time to pick up my kid from school. When I put on heels for my book release party, I realized I’d forgotten how to walk in them without looking like Bambi taking his first steps.
- Authors spend a lot of time at the post office. First there are Advance Reader Copies to mail, then bookmarks, then finished copies and more bookmarks. Then prize packs and thank you notes, and of course the mortgage and my credit card bills. I’ve spent so much time at my local post office, being seen by fellow humans, that I think it might be time to upgrade my author wardrobe. If only I hadn’t spent all of my wardrobe money on postage.
- The thought of people reading my books is scary. It’s like sending your children out into the world. You want them to be loved, or at least liked, and accepted for what’s on the inside.
- Writing gets harder. See numbers 3, 4 and 6.
- It’s easier to keep writing than it is to stop and start again. I heard one of my favorite authors, Richard Russo, liken the daily writing routine to a daily workout. The longer you take a break from that regimen, the harder it is to get back into it. For me, writing is like running. Some days I run short distances, other days longer, the important thing is that I keep running. Like Dory from Finding Nemo says: “Just keep swimming.”
- Authors don’t make tons of money. Of course there are the lucky exceptions, and don’t get me wrong, writing, for me, has never been about the money. I started off as a journalist, held several government/civil servant-type jobs, worked at a non-profit arts organization, and eventually becoming a full-time mommy. So yeah, I’ve never been one to chase a dollar. And let me say that I’m beyond thrilled to be able to do what I love. It’s an honor and I gift I don’t take lightly. But if I spread the advances I received across the amount of hours I’ve spent writing and revising my books let’s just say…uh, on second thought, let’s not say. I’d rather put on my yoga pants and go back to my happy place, where dreams of selling the movie rights to my books and buying beach front property with my royalty checks keep me going.