Staying Humble whilst thinking BIG…
My debut novel was published early October and these past few months have been quite the cliched roller coaster of a ride. Join me as I share the highs and the lows in this list, and let’s swap notes writer friends!
1: You WILL get crappy 1 and 2 star reviews
As sure as the Earth spins, there are miserable people out there, there are also jealous budding authors out there. These two unique and Shiny Happy groups of people make up your naysayers’ committee.
Sate your curiosity, read the first bad review for amusement’s sake… and leave the rest where they belong (outside of your consciousness).
Seriously, these kind of vindictive and unhelpful ‘summaries’ of your book do nothing for your confidence and are so far removed from the truth in any case. Nobody is immune to them. If you really cannot help but fall prey to them, then immediately go read some of the cruddy reviews left for a well-established author you admire. You’ll soon realise we are ALL in the same boat.
But then do yourself the BIGGEST favour and refuse to give them the time of day ever again. Focus on your positive reviews… and the fact that you were talented enough to be published in the fist place. That’s the reality!
*Disclaimer* I can’t say the idea of making funny Facebook Live videos purposely to read out said measly reviews, doesn’t appeal…
2: Not all of your family and friends will buy or read your book… even though some of them are mentioned in the flippin’ acknowledgements – and they know it.
It’s sad (because if any of our family or friends wrote a book, we’d likely be the first in the pre-order queue), but it’s also true.
a) some people hate reading with a passion (I know, I know!) and no amount of family members or friends penning novels or works of non-fiction will ever change that fact.
b) some family and ‘friends’ don’t like/can’t relate to this new version of you and refuse to acknowledge your success.
c) other family and friends may well buy your book, but never get around to reading it… or reading past the first couple of chapters. And that’s okay. Maybe in a year or so they will take it on holiday with them, maybe they’ll even lend it to a friend. At least they bought it!
d) people have their own lives and their world doesn’t revolve around your book journey, funnily enough… perhaps, in time, when your constant (or am I just talking to myself here!!!!????) self-promotion has stopped, their curiosity will get the better of them and they will see what all the fuss was about. And perhaps not.
3) You don’t become a millionaire overnight.
But then you never wrote for the money, right?
4) It’s a marathon, not a sprint.
As my author friend, NJ Simmonds and I, constantly remind each other. But it’s oh, so true, and I think you really realise that the minute your book goes up for sale. You have to focus on the longevity, and being in the writing game for years and years and years.
5) Asking readers to leave an Amazon review will always feel akin to pulling teeth out… and will often go in one ear and straight back out the other!
I loathe this task, but I have to do it all the same. I am also loathe to admit that I never realised the importance of writing a positive review for a book until I got published this year. Double standard or what.
But it doesn’t mean you should stop asking. Just do it lightheartedly, at regular intervals (just not too regular). Eventually your tenacity will pay off and they will trickle in.
6) You won’t be everybody’s cuppa.
Not just because of what you write, or the way you write.
Think about it. In ‘real life’ we have our tribe. Our author life is no different. Whether we are traditionally or self-published, not all of our author counterparts will warm to us or feel drawn to us. Which stands to reason.
We come from the most diverse backgrounds, we have a wide range of differing beliefs; we are sensitive, creative souls with a knack for taking things the wrong way at the best of times!
Some of our author colleagues – whether they write in our genre/engage in the same Facebook groups as us/are published by the same company as us, will pat us on the back, support us, return the love we give them by spreading the word about our book on social media/buying it and reading it and reviewing it… no matter how busy they are, they will always remember to reciprocate the kindness.
And some, well, they just won’t bother… no matter if we have invited them to star on our blog/bought their books and left gleaming reviews all over Goodreads and Amazon/re-tweeted their brand new title/shared pictures of every book in their repertoire all over Instagram and Facebook.
Sometimes it’s hard not to take it personally. But suck up the lesson and move on instead. Your time is better spent on YOUR writing, and your tribe are out there waiting with open arms to cheer you on. For every un-supportive author, I have met 10 supportive authors, many of whom are now firm friends!
7) You will write promotional material that others will neglect to use.
You will also contact numerous newspapers, magazines, and radio stations – all to no avail. You might even pay for copies of your book to be sent to these places… and still they won’t grant you a feature.
I wrote a LOT of articles to promote Oh! What a Pavlova clocking up many hours worth of work. I left no stone un-turned as new author, and as a result I felt like I was plastered across social media this summer! A number of book bloggers – in particular – however, neglected to use the material I had sent them (material they had flippin’ well asked for as well!).
Rude? You bet.
But know your place.
There may have been a genuine excuse, they may simply have forgotten/been poorly/otherwise engaged with urgent and unforseeable stuff.
You are a humble author (quite possibly a debut author, if you are reading this). And the book blogging community is way too close-knit for arguments. Suck up yet another lesson on your journey; next time you will be better prepared and will double check that your piece really will be aired!
Unless you are John Marrs, Louise Jensen or JK Rowling, you have a long way to go before you can click your fingers and command any kind of authority. Which is no bad thing. Everyone had to start somewhere.
*Disclaimer: John Marrs and Louise Jensen are two of the loveliest and friendliest authors in the writing community, who probably don’t do any finger clicking at all… both having frequently taken the time to chat with me on social media threads… and I’m sure that JK is equally lovely too! This was just for illustration purposes.*
And once again, just because somebody is a book blogger, it doesn’t mean you are their cuppa… or vice versa. They might have liked the look and sound of your novel initially… and then read your book’s blurb and thought “eww, this is SO not my kind of read!”
Just because we have a joint love of books to bind us, it doesn’t mean we’d have been buddies in the playground/gravitated towards one another if we worked in the same office/frequented the same pub/been lured by the same book section in our local library.
So stay humble and polite, despite your warranted frustration, and then simply get a little more streetwise for your next novels.
Your time matters and these articles don’t get written in a heartbeat.
8) Lots of lovely and unexpected things WILL happen.
They probably won’t be the lovely and unexpected things you are trying to coax into reality through visualisation… because the universe loves to surprise us like that. Take my debut novel’s 48 hours of snatching the top spot in an Amazon subcategory within an Amazon subcategory from Jeremy, James and Richard!
I truly never saw that one coming and it was all the more fun for it. Especially when you put that hip pose from Jezza into context. Heehee.
And I have made so many friends from so many countries, all within a few months. For every friendship that fell by the wayside because of my new direction, I feel like I have honestly made a dozen new (and genuine) friends to fill that ‘void’.
So there you have it: The 8 Things I Have Learned Since Becoming an Author!
What about you, what would YOU add to this list?