8 Lessons I Learned After Writing My First Book
I've wanted to write books since I was in the 4th grade. My 4th grade year of school I was one of those students chosen to go to those writing events for kids. My grandma went with me and encouraged me to meet one of the authors doing a signing. I was still pretty shy in unfamiliar territory, but I'm glad she pushed me into doing it. I did not expect who I met.
Another girl only a couple years older than I was at the time! She was blonde, quiet, wrote a children's book, and was signing and meeting the other kids. Sadly I don't remember much conversation with her. The only thing that really stuck with me was a thought I had "If she can do it...maybe I can, too." It was the first time I'd realized that I could accomplish things starting at a young age and did not need to wait for age to grace me to accomplish my goals.
And here I am too many years later writing a blog post about the first ever book I wrote(and published). I guess that is a good lead into the first thing I learned.
1. Don't wait! I promise you'll regret it.
Life has always been busy. When life wasn't busy it has been filled with sickness or stress. On top of that I felt extremely inadequate to write. I knew I was creative and could write pieces that you might even call good, but I felt that because I had a hard time soaking things up in highschool because it was about survival for my mind and not learning, that my grammar and vocabulary was just not stretched like everyone else my age. You can see in my blog posts I'm already an extremely lazy writer! ;) I remember nothing from what I learned from my brilliant English teacher in 7th and 8th grade, sadly. It's just how my brain works. Alright....to the point! ;)
Life will always be busy. Something will always come up. You may feel inadequate or maybe you've even been told you're just not smart enough ( << I was told this). But, you have to make the time. Shut out all those voices in your head that are telling you you're not smart enough or good enough to write something people will want to read.
After my book was published onto Amazon Kindle and started selling I truly regretted that I hadn't started sooner. I know I'm not the only author that wishes they would've written sooner in life. I also know of amazing writers who've never published a thing and have told me to my face they regret it. So start right now! Get a brainstorm going and work on it each day until you're done.
2. Choose your editors wisely.
I definitely recommend knowing without a doubt that your editor isn't going to stab you in the back, show signs of jealousy, or take your voice out of your work. With anything even in the realm of 'big' happening in your life you're going to see sides of people you never knew existed. I'd heard of this, read about it, been warned even! It definitely is true that if you are going to be successful in any area of your life...you will learn who your true friends are. That is why I recommend more than one editor.
3. Keep positive people in the know.
When I started writing I had amazing support not only from my husband but from my MIL and FIL. They are so wonderful and have always encouraged me in my goals. It helped a lot! I also had one person constantly dragging me down, putting me down, saying cruel things (not me being sensitive here...truly cruel mean things) about my book, and one final kick to the face saying "Don't send me your book as a gift...it's not like anyone's going to buy it." RUDE!!! Trust me they got kicked to the curb fast after that. I do not keep negative people in my life anymore. I've learned I get a lot more accomplished without complainers or natural pessimists. Take my advice and keep people who are only going to lift you up and encourage you around when you are working on your writing.
4. Toughen up!
I learned quick that when you are a part of a social network of any kind, especially amazon, that you need to tough out the criticism! No matter how bad or good you are, how good of a person, how good your intentions there will always be someone wanting to give you a negative review. If you have enemies I suggest armor at this point. People will tell you if you're an amateur (no effing kidding?!!), they'll tell you how you should have written your book, what you shouldn't have done. Heaven forbid you act confident because apparently that is bragging to the negative nancy's. If you're not confident they'll tell you, too. If you don't have images they'll want images. If you do have images they'll tell you they wish your images didn't suck. The one thing you'll never hear is that none of these people have ever put themselves out there like you did and actually write something...anything. You'll also get really great criticism! Use it. Try to update your book or use the criticism for your next project. It's all a learning experience. You can't be so thick headed that you honestly think everyone else is wrong and you're absolutely perfect in every way. So toughen up before you publish! :) And...I hope I didn't offend anyone. ;)
5. Don't expect people to go out of their way for you.
Every writer knows its important to not only have emotional support but actually having people go onto a website to give you a good review just because you hope they love you....well, I learned its asking a bit much. haha Of course, you'll get those first few family members and close confidants to get on and give you a rave review and you'll feel great! But...when you start asking friends to give you reviews don't expect a huge response to action. It hurts. But it's another way I found who really are my supporters. The people who take five minutes to sit down at a computer to help you get a better star rating on your project and say a few good things about it....keep them close. You'll find most people just don't have the time. That's okay! Try not to get too offended. Need armor for this part, too. I learned something in this lesson, that just because I'm extremely loyal and willing to cross oceans for other people....DEFINITELY doesn't mean they'll do the same for me. That hurts, too. But it's just part of life. Heck I even asked a friend personally to give me a good review, and they responded "You want me to lie?"........ It's a good lesson. If you don't expect too much from people it's easier to shrug things off. That doesn't mean you need to stop caring so much or going out of your way for other people...if that is your personality (like mine) don't lose it! I've found once again with this attitude I get more accomplished. And karma.....well, you know.
6. Leave it alone.
It's sooo hard to not constantly check on your book to see how it's doing and if you're getting good or bad or ANY reviews. I'll tell you right now don't start that OCD! Move onto other things. Keep busy. Maybe if you can't help yourself check once...twice a day at first. You're going to go insane if you obsess over it and keep checking it around the clock. (not personal experience or anything!! ;))
7. Start your next project right away.
This kind of goes with number 6. It helps a lot to start a new project right away. If you're going to write....WRITE! It'll keep you busy, and you'll be using your time wisely and definitely not regretting that you wasted time.
8. Learn from the past.
I saved this for last. The reason I wrote my first book was for this lesson exactly. I wanted to gain experience. I wanted to learn the ropes of publishing, selling, advertising, and what comes next. Obviously I learned even more than that! I did rush my first book. I'm ashamed to say I didn't expect it to sell...because I was using it as a lesson. I wrote and published it in three weeks. I've learned so much! Now I'm onto more serious work with a little experience gained, a new support group, and a tough piece of armor to go with it.
Whelp! I hope you enjoyed this article and can learn from my lessons before you start your first book or project whatever it may be. Good luck!