I can’t possibly list everything I’ve learned since publishing into one single 5 item list, but I don’t want to keep you here forever so let’s start with 5 things I’ve learned. They may not be the most profound or shocking things, but there the top tidbits I’m going to share with you today.
- Your true friends won’t change! A lot of people may, a lot of people you’ve always called your friends may change, but the true ones won’t. I have the honor of being best friends with someone who hit it big with a single book and has had several more big sellers since then–we still chat and joke the same as we did when she was writing that first book. We’ve had some rough times, experienced some backstabbers who’d prefer us not to be friends, but there’s something about our relationship that made it impossible to be apart. That’s how you’ll know your true friends–there the ones that stick with you through thick and thin–the ones that even though everything falls apart and you don’t know how you can make it work, you find your way back to. They make you laugh when the world seems horrible. They drop everything to make sure you’re okay when you don’t feel like you can make your next deadline–or if you even want to.
- You will make mistakes. Your first book won’t be perfect. It doesn’t matter how well it sells or doesn’t it just won’t be perfect, neither will the next one, or the next one. You keep writing and improving and fighting because writing is what you’re drawn to do. Eventually you’ll find your audience and you’ll find your voice. It’ll also take time to find your “team” the people who give you feedback and push you to improve–editors, betas, proofreaders, etc. Someone may be the best editor for one person, and not so great for someone else. It’s nothing personal, but it’s all part of the creative process. It takes time to find the people who work the best with you. Much of being an indie author is trial and error–your first marketing techniques may crumble, your initial formatting may not be the best and somewhere along the line, you may have to consider another route that you didn’t intend to take. It’s all part of the process.
- You can’t please everyone. You probably hear this one all the time, but it never seems to be something that you can embrace with every fiber of your core. You’re heart is going to break when you get a bad review. You’ll question why you started, if you should continue, and why we bother at all. The answer to all of those questions, “I’m a writer”. It’s what we do, who we are, and we can’t live without it. Write to make yourself happy. And remember, you probably haven’t loved every book you’ve ever read–it’s not personal, it’s just how things are. The one person you can always please is yourself! If you’re having fun writing, you’ll eventually attract a group of like-minded people and you’ll find your audience. Stay true to yourself and your voice and eventually everything else will fall into place. I could have written a dark erotic romance with for my first book–I could have sat down and forced the idea out because I had a lot of people telling me that’s where the money was, but I didn’t. I followed my muse and I’m glad I did, because I learned so much by staying true to the ideas that came naturally. I was able to build and grow out of my comfort zone while sticking up for my own vision.
- You can’t do it alone. I’ve seen the bullying, plagiarism, dishonesty, etc… but let’s face it, there will always be the untrustworthy people. Maybe they’re more prevalent here, maybe they’re not. In our field, a lot of the bad seems to find its way into the public eye, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing, because sometimes we all need to know if someone has legitimately plagiarized a book. All of the bad stuff will come out in time, and I’ve been downright lucky that I’ve had some true friends to rely on since the beginning. But no matter how well you write, you need other people around. You need an editor, proofreaders, and general people who are just going to stick with you through the good times and the bad. Sometimes even those close to you will give you harsh criticism because they want the best for you. I’m a complete introvert, and I hate asking for help–always have, but if I hadn’t sucked it up and asked for other opinions, I wouldn’t improve. I wouldn’t learn new tricks, and I wouldn’t have made it as far as I have today.
- Even when you love it you will hate it. In the last year, I’ve done things I never thought I’d do. I’ve sold books around the world. I’ve made friends around the world. I’m more social than I’ve ever been in my life, even though I do most of it from behind a computer. But I’ve had my breaking moments. The moments that I hate–absolutely loath everything I’ve written–I considered scrapping IRREVOCABLE right before it was supposed to go to my editor. I have moments where I can’t stand my characters or the plot–it happens to every writer I’ve talked to. And no matter how much you believe in your story, sometimes the insecurities will feel like they’re winning. Don’t let it conquer you! Take a moment to remind yourself why you love writing and why you started in the first place.
That’s my life experience over the past year. If you have anything to add, please leave your comments below! I’d love to hear from you.