While sitting in my garden today; enjoying the sunshine, I began to think about my journey as an indie author thus far. I won’t lie. some of this gets mushy where I take the time to thank some people. I couldn’t possibly thank EVERYONE but I know that my amazing friends and book peeps know just who LOVES them!
When I first began writing, I was totally unaware of the enormous world of literary genius that I was about to dive in to. Heck, I had never even considered publishing my little novel until a good friend educated me on the ways of self-publishing.
I deliberated, thought long and hard and eventually decided to take the plunge! Well, I more or less tripped and fell right into the publishing boat!
So, there I was! A brand new little fish in a gigantic pond full of amazingly sparkly, talented and successful authors. I was a newbie. I had no idea about blog tours, promoting, giveaways or how to run a rafflecopter!
It was by the grace of God and Facebook that I happened to meet a collection of truly amazing people. First and foremost, I met Karen. I have no words to describe just what Karen means to me. From teaching me the ins and outs of self-publishing, to being my constant friend and confidant through some particularly difficult situations. Karen is by far the most generous, amazing and genuinely kind person I have ever met. I was a stranger, sitting behind a computer screen thousands of miles away, and she befriended me. Without her, I would not be where I am now.
Her blog, Book Crush, just grows and grows. I believe it’s due to the way in which Karen and her fellow bloggette(s) conduct their reviews. Always constructive, fair and friendly. Just as a review should be.
Blogs play an important role in the book world and I am blessed to have a close group of good and trusted bloggers and friends! Nic and Denise were my first bloggers! Flirty and Dirty Book blog was not what drew me to these two fabulous ladies either! Not that their blog doesn’t totally kick ass, it was simply their fantastic humor, witty conversation and warm personalities that sucked me right in. I was Mzalped!
The many, MANY blogs that have sprinkled their pixie dust and brought magic to my world are invaluable! Bookboyfriend Reviews. Through The Booking Glass. Rockstars Of Romance. Candy Coated Book Blog. Love N Books. Shhh Mom’s Reading. An Indie Affair. Bookworm Betties. SOOOOOO MANY OTHERS! I love you all!
I cannot put a price on what they do, but if I could, it would run into the thousands! Promotions, blog tours, giveaways…it all adds up! But they do it for free. Why? Because they love to read and I have it on good authority that they also just simply LOVE to help authors. These hard working ladies and dudes are my sparkly, shimmering, strut their stuff superstars!
I can’t possibly continue without also mentioning the authors, readers and endless amount of supportive individuals that make writing and indeed, being an author, worth while. I have met some incredible people over the past two years.
My readers, I cannot express my gratitude enough at the messages of support and well wishes I received during my pregnancy. Pushing the release of Burning Up back was a tough decision for me, but you were all so supportive and sweet, and I cannot thank you enough. Truly.
Authors Rhonda, Laura, Tiffany, Mary, Stacy, Jenn, Ashley, Kerri, L.B, GOSH, SO MANY! My author and book world friends..I have no words. You rock. So here’s a GIF.
So, what have I learned so far on my journey?
Well, it’s not been a smooth ride. Far from it. But over the past 2 years, I have had to learn some difficult lessons about being an author.
- Lesson 1. CUT YOURSELF SOME SLACK! Author’s are human! Okay, I’ll admit it, I obsess over my books. I obsess while I am writing them. I worry that they aren’t good enough. Too short, too long, too much humor, not enough humor, too much my personality, not enough my personality. You name it, I can almost guarantee that I obsessed about it. Many a long and late night was spent pouring over page after page of literature. I lost countless days, yes days, of sleep. My health became poor and I was on the verge of exhaustion.
When I unexpectedly fell pregnant, a lesson had to be learnt and quickly! No more late nights. No more obsessing. A novel cannot be rushed or pushed to meet demand. Sometimes, as a reader myself, I know it can be difficult to wait for a sequel. God knows I nearly died waiting for the third Kellan Kyle novel! But authors are human. We have lives and families like everyone else. Sometimes life gets all up in your way. But I also think it’s important to make sure that the readers are kept updated. That’s why I love my Facebook and twitter!
- Lesson 2. Get a thicker skin. This is a bit of a ‘hot topic’ in the book world and I know the general feeling about reviews, but here’s my two cents. I had a very very thin skin when I released my first novel. Holy heck, I was faster than a rocket to react to a negative review. It’s easy to say “just ignore it” or “It’s just one persons opinion” but for me, I had just given the world my baby and there it was being poked and prodded. I had not yet learnt the many ways in which reviews are conducted.
I would sit at my computer and scour through the comments and reviews left on various sites.
This was me. Scary, huh?
Some reviews were amazing! Even a two star review can be constructive. I won’t lie, I often still found myself a little upset…
But when a review is done well, it is fantastic for an author! So much can be taken from a review to inform future work. I find reviews endlessly useful in looking at ways in which to better develop my characters, story and flow. Regardless of the rating, if a review is fair and kind, it’s a great review!
And then, there’s the mean ones. I would tell myself it didn’t matter. I would totally put on a front and pretend I wasn’t bothered by mean reviews.
But in reality, I’ve had some real clangers. One such favorite read “What utter drivel. The author should be ashamed of writing such crap and iTunes ashamed of selling it.” And that’s me sugar coating it.
That one and those similar, kind of made me feel more like this….
Of course, I then began to see more and more comments like this. If I’m honest, I was probably subconsciously looking out for them. I felt terrible. Here I was pouring my soul into a novel and it was not only being ripped apart before my eyes but I felt as though they were setting my heart on fire. Every single one I read just added to my dismay.
I reacted poorly. Knee jerk reactions of a newbie author. It was dangerous stuff. I threw around some hurtful words and tossed my toys out of my stroller. But, again, I’m human. I wasn’t used to this criticism. I was blissfully unaware of the feelings and high running emotions that I would encounter. I was going to end up in some serious trouble if I didn’t develop a thicker skin and soon. I was perfectly aware that everyone experiences a novel differently, but I simply couldn’t understand the need for meanness.
Then, and as if by magic, a fairy godmother came to my aid.
Ok, so she was considerably younger and WAAAAAAY hotter, but a fairy godmother she was, none the less. She talked to me about the things to expect as an author. Jenn Sterling, is not only an awesome-sauce author, but she is also an incredibly warm, friendly and sweet human being. I cannot thank her enough. Through talking with Jenn, I learnt about author etiquette, how to handle knee jerk reactions (wine helps by the way, Jenn), dealing with negative and mean reviews and most of all, how to conduct oneself when in the public domain! She is an excellent role model and example of how an author should behave and I am in her debt always!
I could finally see the error of my ways.
Stupid. Stupid. Stupid girl!
- Lesson 3…Knowing who to trust and maintaining privacy. I had to learn very quickly that not everyone who ‘friends’ you, is your friend. Be aware of those out to get their needs met and those, also, that will potentially turn on you for their own personal gains. It happens to people every day. Be careful who you befriend. People looking for handouts, to ride on your coat tails and to assist you with your promotions, can sometimes quickly forget you when your star begins to fade. Equally, this can be said for some authors. Guys, ALWAYS REMEMBER those that helped you on the way up. You may need them on the way down.
I am very fortunate to have a very close group of bloggers, authors, friends and family that I know I can trust and rely on. I ALWAYS recommend these ladies to new author friends. I trust them implicitly. They’re my breath of fresh air and with them, I can be me! Moody and demanding 😉
- Lesson 4. Try and have ME time! Even if it doesn’t quite turn out the way you hoped. Yeah, that home gym is really just gathering dust and holding my junk these days.
- Lesson 5. NEVER give up! You have a story to tell? TELL IT! Write. Write poorly, wonderfully, endlessly, tirelessly…but write! It’s your story and it has the potential to take people into a world of love, laughter, magic, pain, angst…the possibilities are endless and so is your talent! Be determined. Be brave. You can do it! I believe in you!
- Lesson 6. Don’t lose your voice.
It’s important sometimes to hold ones tongue. And sometimes, it’s also important to remember we have one! If you feel passionately about something, say so. But be tactful, polite and remember, you’re in the public domain. Be respectful. You have a voice, use it.
- Lesson 7. Release days are nerve wracking, but try not to sweat it! You’ve worked hard and the big day finally arrives! It’s exciting! So why are you pacing up and down, refreshing that web page every ten seconds and searching every social media to check if people have noticed your baby just hit the market? BREATHE! Whenever I have a release day, I get my purse, my nicest dress on and I go out for the day! I go shopping, out for lunch with the girls or even just to the park to read. But I get out of the house and OUT OF MY HEAD.
Otherwise, I end up like this…
- Lesson 8. You wrote a book! ENJOY THE RIDE! Have fun. Enjoy the amazing accomplishment and be proud! You’re an author. You rock.