In today’s post, I wanted to touch on Being Fearless.
When you have finally finished your manuscript and you’ve revised it the best you feel it can be, there comes the moment where you’re most likely going to take a publishing route. Sometimes that publishing route is traditional, sometimes it’s self-publishing. But once you’re on that path, there are a thousand doubts that enter your mind and people start to offer their opinions.
In light of that, here are some things that I wished somebody had told me about when I decided to take the publishing route. (Note: Some of these things are self-published related just since that’s the route I took.)
- You are going to doubt yourself. As soon as you start querying to agents for a traditional publishing house or as soon as you begin the self-publishing process, you’re going to wonder if your book is really going to cut it. Whether you edited it enough. Whether the grammar is truly okay, even though it’s been proofread multiple times or if you’ve gone over it 15 different times. It is okay to be nervous about moving onto the publishing process; everyone gets nervous. But never fall into the trap of doubting yourself so much that you decide to halt the publishing process or not submit to agents. You can only edit your book so many times. It’s never going to be “perfect”; there’s no such thing as a “perfect” story. There are renowned authors that look back on their work and say stuff like “Yeah, we didn’t like this part about our books” and it’s one of the readers’ most beloved sections. If you think your story is ready, do not allow doubt or fear to keep you from pursuing a publishing route.
- “Oh you’re self-publishing? When are you going to get published for real?” Unfortunately, this is one of the most aggravating, hurtful questions that people tend to ask when you go down the self-pub route. They mean well, so when you feel like beating them over the head with your laptop, keep that in mind. (Note to people that are friends/family to writers: NEVER SAY THIS. EVER. You may not mean it that way, but it is an incredibly rude and inconsiderate question and you will hurt your writer’s feelings more than you’ll probably know.) The thing is, self-publishing gets a bad rep because everyone can self-pub these days. They can have no idea about what truly goes into making a book, and yet they can publish it. Because of this, self-pub is a hard industry to go into because you have to prove that you mean business and that you’re just as good as the traditionally published authors out there. That being said, never let anyone discourage you from choosing the self-pub route with comments/questions such as this. You’re choosing your route for a reason. Don’t let others ignorance (because let’s be real: that’s what it is) make you feel lesser for that.
- And that brings me to this point – proving that you mean business when the self-pub industry is being used as a tool for hobbyists and people that have no clue a lot of the time. If you’re looking to be an indie (self-pub) author that actually makes money and appears professional, you are going to have to work your butt off. You’re not only going to be a writer, but you’re going to need to become a publicist, a marketing guru, and an expert in your craft. You need to be okay with constantly learning because marketing and the self-pub industry is continuously changing year to year. This means you need to read books, follow blogs, read more books, go to conferences, study other writers (even traditionally published ones!) to see how they’re doing things, and read more books. For authors looking to make it professionally in the self-pub industry, you have to be ready and willing to work hard and work hard constantly. It’s just like starting your own business. You have to put the work in if you want to see success.
- There is going to be family and friends that do not like your book just because of the way it is written, the themes you touch on, or the way you express yourself in it. There can come to be expectations over how you’re “supposed” to write based on how you wrote when you were growing up. When you end up breaking those expectations – whether that’s because you’ve grown up, have different values/ideals/beliefs, have something hard or different to say, etc. – family and friends can react rather negatively, whether by making offhand comments, not reading your books, not even discussing your books, or not recommending your books to their personal friends and family because they don’t want to be associated with your book. And that’s hard, guys. I’ve been very fortunate in not having to deal with these things, but I know of plenty of other writers that have these issues. So when this happens, allow yourself to feel the hurt you’re feeling, and then move on. You’re not writing for them – you’re writing for you. You don’t need to get permission from them to write a particular way. If that was the case, you probably wouldn’t even be a writer because following others’ expectations for your writing limits your creativity and hinders you from saying what you feel needs to be said in your stories. Write for yourself and don’t let yourself wallow in self-pity or hurt and anger because of what family or friends have said or done, or have not said or done.
- Continuing on that note, a big one here is: there are going to be people that don’t like your books. That’s it. Get over it. Your job as a writer is not to please everyone. Some people that don’t like your book are going to be tactful about it, and others aren’t. Develop a backbone and move on. You can’t allow other people’s negative opinions of your writing influence you, or you are never going to make it in the industry.
- You are putting yourself out there, and it is going to be scary. Whether you go the traditionally publishing route or the self-pub route, you are going to be stepping into a world where you are in the spotlight some percentage of the time. This can mean tours, book signings, author chats, podcasts, blogging, sending out newsletters, and any and all social media platforms. Be authentic. In this day and age, readers are looking to connect with authors and for authors to connect with them. Quality and networking is more important than quantity (although, fun fact: the more you network and spend time chatting with your readers on social media, the more interested and invested they will be in you and your books). Be authentic and real and don’t let fear keep you from being vulnerable. Yes, there’s a time and place to keep secrets to yourself, and of course we don’t want to know what you’re eating for breakfast every. Single. Day. But, we are interested in learning about you and your struggles and your hopes and your exciting news. Let yourself network, and genuinely have fun and enjoy talking with people, and you’ll grow a better, healthier writing/reading community.
These are just some of the things I wish someone had told me, although I could go on and on and on! If you’re a writer, what are some things you wish someone had told you about the writing and/or publishing process in general?