After just a few months as an published author, I've learned some things. The learning curve, at times, was fast paced and exhilarating, much like a waterside on a hot, steamy day. At others times, well, it hasn't been so pleasant.
These are the aspects of being an author that I wasn't prepared for -- and looking back -- I'm not sure I could have prepared myself for these things anyway. Nevertheless, maybe this post will be helpful for an up and coming author.
10 Things I Wish I Had Known Before Becoming a Published Author
- I should have had an inbound email/communication strategy ready to go once the book hit the market. Maybe it's the nature of my memoir, which at its core deals with the hot-topic of public education, but it has been almost impossible to keep up with the onslaught of emails I am receiving from readers across the country. I'm doing my best to answer them as they come in, but in hindsight, perhaps I should have had a better plan of what types of emails I would answer. At this point, my goal is to answer everyone at least once...because well...I never wanted to be that author that was impersonal and a recluse.
The requests for interviews, podcasts, and speaking opportunities have been numerous, and that is flattering and exciting, but there are only so many hours in a day. Once again, having a strategy or standard around how many I will accept in a given period of time, would have been helpful for me. There's much time and energy that goes into preparing for these events, so just thinking, as I did, that I can fix "x" number into a period, wasn't realistic. I've learned that I need to account for time to prepare, travel time, and just my overall energy levels so that each time I "show up" for an appearance, I am in my best form! I wasn't prepared for the haters. I wasn't ready for the people who not only disagree, which is fine, but do it in such a blatantly hateful and disrespectful manner -- most of which is online and now public for the world to see. The good news is, at least for now, for every disgruntled, angry person that posted something somewhere, 20 more people were there to support my message and book. I have been able to build some quality, loving relationships with people who were just complete strangers only a few months ago. Using social media as a tool to build relationships is a powerful strategy! Marketing my book is a full-time job. I often heard that writing my book was the "easy" part -- but I guess no one ever shared the ending of that sentence with me. The truth of the matter is, as a self-published author, if I want the book to sell, I've got to hustle. Everyday. Consistently. Relentlessly. My shelves are overstocked with books from authors I am meeting, either in person or virtually. This has been really eye-opening and fun! I don't know how I am ever gong to read all of the books that keep showing up on my doorstep, but it continues to be exciting to open the packages as they arrive. (And of course, this means I am shipping my book to them as well -- it's like a personal book club!) When my first "1 Star" Amazon review came in, I was devastated. Mainly, this was because the person reviewing talked nothing about the book, but took personal jabs at me and my character. There's no way, in my opinion, this "reader" could have read the book, because I was referred to as a politician, which I am clearly not. Anyway, I reached out to two of my author friends, because I was so hurt, and they both said, "Never, ever read your reviews. Ever." This would have been good to know in the beginning! The urge to write more has hit me hard. In fact, I would be perfectly fine moving to a cave (preferably one that had internet access), sitting in there, alone, and writing the days and nights away. The only problem? I still need to pay my bills! So, for now, I am doing the best I can to get the writing in around the work that also must get done. Energetically speaking, being an author has taken a toll on me. If you read through the list above, I'm sure you can understand why. The good news is that I have wonderful people in my life who are supporting me, and who understand that there are some days when I just need to unplug from the world and recharge. Most of these days are filled with alone time, quite time with my husband, and snuggling my cat. There are other days when I can be the social butterfly everyone was so used to before my life became more public. Writing a memoir is no joke -- the energy to tell the story, and the energy to retell it over and over again in interviews and such, and then the energy to recover from all that spent energy, is, well...real.My heart beats faster and my anxiety spikes every time I sign a book. I am so worried about spelling a name incorrectly. My friend, Regina, helped me overcome this small dilemma by suggesting that people use a sticky note and write their name on it (at a book signing event). Then, the sticky note and the book are handed to me all at once. This has helped tremendously. I'm proud to say to date, I haven't misspelled a name yet! (I'm knocking on wood right now.)
I've learned a lot in the three short months of being a published author. There's been a mix of positive and negative aspects, highs and lows, and laughs and tears. The good news? I am embracing it all and learning more about myself every single day, and...this is probably what life is really supposed to be about, anyway.