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?
22 thoughts on “8 Things I Have Learned Since Becoming an Author!”
Thank you for sharing the realistic points of being published. Very eye opening to us aspiring authors.
I agree with M Evans it is nice to know what to expect if I ever finish my first draft and polish it for publishing.
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I totally agree with everything you’ve written, that’s been my experience over the last year too! But I’ve met lots of lovely people and made many new friends, and that’s what keeps me going. 🙂
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Very true! Thank you for sharing, it means we are not alone in this beautiful and painful journey. 🙂
Thank you for sharing this. I can relate to this blog post. What a fantastic thing to share with everyone. Well done. Don’t worry I will of course leave a review once I’ve read your book. Jennifer x
Thanks so much for putting this out there. It encapsulates the rollercoaster – oops, where is my stomach? – ride that is writing. I love your tactics for handling reviews too, and will keep them firmly in mind.
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I’m not yet published but will bear all these points in mind when I am!
Oh the joys!
I have always said there is a positive to every negative! So I guess we have to turn things to our favour when we can!!
Great article Isabella! 😊
2d really made me laugh! We definitely need to retain our sense of humour. “Never Say Di” in other words…
Loved this. Never truer words spoken . Great blog xxxx
Thanks for sharing this, it’s very enlightening. I hope one day I’ll be on this rollercoaster, but I can already relate to some of it like making new friends, feeling a bit weird around family and friends because my life has suddenly taken a different turn. I love my new life though!
P.s. I WILL review your book when I’ve read it! 🙂
Good points! And oh so true (unfortunately, in some cases). xxx
Yup, I’m with you all the way on all of these points. We all have to learn it the hard way, but your experiences will help others along.
Great post. I learned a lot from your book and you are doing fantabulous! (Yes. I know that’s not a word 🙂
Great list, Isabella. Sadly I agree with the bad things and gladly I agree with the good.
Glad you shared! Your blog opened the window to what its like out there.
Thank you for a great post. My first “Seasoned Romance” novel is due out next week. Your information is most helpful.
Hi Isabella! I too am a published author and I completely agree with all 8 of your suggestions. Especially the one about being a marathon rather than a sprint. We have to keep writing and plugging away regardless of how many “reviews we get” or whether our family or friends get what we write. Thanks for all the reminders. ~Kathy
Great post with some very helpful insights. Thank you!
Great article, Isabella, though the bit about authors not reciprocating in reading/reviewing gave me pause for thought. I have to admit to buying friends’ books but not reading them and/or not reviewing a friend’s book, in both cases because it wasn’t to my taste and though I wanted to support them by buying, I couldn’t be less than honest in a review and I thought no review was better than one that might appear negative.
Great post. Its so hard to explain to people that reviews take two minutes to write and mean so much to an author. I wrote a post about reviews, https://lizziechantree.com/2017/03/29/keywords-in-reviews/ as the words used in book reviews actually act as keywords too.
I probably wouldn’t review a book I would give less than three stars to. I know how much work goes into a book and wouldn’t want to upset anyone who has tried really hard. The same book might be adored by someone else.
With regard to friends buying our books, one friend told me she couldn’t read my books as she would hear my voice or accent when she was reading the sex scenes! Any amorous content is more suggestive and sultry, than blatant in my novels, but as she hadn’t read the book blurbs, she wouldn’t know! It did make me smile. Other friends have loved reading my work and gone all out to support me, above and beyond what I could have hoped for.
Very true about family and friends. I was rather hurt in the beginning… never showed it, though. Meanwhile, I’ve learned its usually the case, but I still find it very odd,
*Highfive – yup it’s a lucky dip with lovely surprises and a few “eww” moments but aren’t you glad you did it? Have shared this as it’s good as an author not to feel alone and very good for newcomers to know what to expect. xxx