I’ve been writing since 2013, and when I published my first novel in July of 2014, I didn’t know a damn thing about the book world. I didn’t know how vast the reading community was, I didn’t know about marketing my novel, I didn’t know how to get people to read my books, and I certainly didn’t know how to format.
(On second thought; I still don’t know how to format. That’s why I pay someone else to do it for me).
When I released my first book, I did it with limited support and guidance. I tried to teach myself because I was afraid to reach out to seek help from other authors in the community. I was afraid they would think I was inept. I was afraid I wouldn’t “fit in”.
Knowing the things I know now, I almost regret releasing my books when I did. They could have gone through a few more rounds of edits, and I could have figured out a better marketing strategy sooner. But in the same breath, it’s hard to regret anything. Publishing my books when I did led me to the close bonds I now have with several amazing people in the book community. They have had my back consistently for the last two years, they’ve been my writing critique partners, beta readers, and my number one cheerleaders whenever I felt like giving up. They’ve helped me figure out how to keep swimming in this great big sea, and I’m eternally grateful for their support.
I can’t even truly regret my time with my ex-publisher, Booktrope. Booktrope allowed me to publish three more novels (in addition to the two I had when I signed with them). Booktrope taught me a lot about the world of publishing and marketing. Booktrope helped me grow as an author and as a business owner, because being an author is owning a business, and I really didn’t treat it that way when I first started out. I treated it like a hobby that I could potentially make money off it; much like I would treat the spoils of my knitting, if I ever decided to learn how to knit again: Look! I made something pretty and you can buy it if you want but if you don’t, that’s okay too. I’m just happy I made it!
I’m not going to sit here and pretend that I know everything, because I don’t. I’m still very much a novice. The only advice that I can give is to keep learning new things, and don’t be afraid to ask for help but remember that nobody knows it all, and not every method is going to work for every author. And that’s okay! Authors need to be versatile, because the game is always changing. One minute something works, then the next minute it doesn’t. Find what works for you and own it! When that stops working, try something else. Be a phoenix and rise from the ashes every time!
Since I’ve “risen from the ashes” and re-entered the self-publishing world, I’ve been doing a lot better across the board. I can attribute this boost in success to my change in attitude towards writing. I’ve learned the importance of running my brand like the business it is. I’ve learned that sometimes, you need to spend a little to make a lot. And most of all, I’ve learned that the only one who really truly cares about whether you make it or not is you. Readers want to see you succeed, and so do other authors — but in the end, it’s up to you. You’ve got to keep hustling, even when it feels impossible.
My biggest hurdle still is fear. The fear of not being successful, the fear of not being enough. But I’m forcing myself to push past that fear. In the next few years, it is my goal to focus on getting my novels into bookstores and to attend more signing events — even though the anxiety of those things gives me hives. There’s just so many people, not that people are bad, but it’s very overwhelming to someone with social anxiety (but that’s a post for another day).
Fear is something that will always lurk in the shadows, but I won’t let it get in the way of saying yes to amazing opportunities.