From One New Author to Another

I’ve been quiet on here all year (or two?). It’s because I published my very first book (and a second!). I’ve been trying to navigate through the murky waters of publishing (spoiler alert: it’s hard lol).

But one question people keep asking me now is, “How do you feel being a published author?”

It’s been almost a year since I published, and I’m still not sure how I feel, let alone how to express it. How would you feel once you finally achieved something you’ve been working toward for years?

Something you’ve desperately wanted for half your life?

Something you’ve dedicated so much time and tears and heartache over?

I don’t really have the words, but I feel good, y’all.

It’s all very surreal, overwhelming, as well as discouraging at times, but ultimately, I feel very happy and blessed and excited.

I’m mostly excited for what all’s to come, because I’m definitely only getting started.

Publishing my first couple of books has taught me so much already that will be invaluable as I move forward. It’s been a fantastic learning experience regarding not just my writing, but also marketing and publishing and everything in between.

I talked with an author friend a couple years back (Jenny Kate of author duo Jiffy Kate – check them out for sure!), who said it perfectly – some things you just won’t know until you do it. Publishing is one of those things, whether you go the traditional or indie route. You won’t know what you don’t know until it comes up, and you have to deal with it. That’s exactly right. I asked many questions, spent many hours researching, and studied writing for two years in graduate school on top of all the studying I did by reading other books in my genre.

But there are things you won’t be prepared for until they arise, and they won’t arise until you go for it.

That’s what happened with me.

I learned a lot simply by doing. The one very important thing that I’ll mention today for new and aspiring authors out there is this:

Listen to other people’s advice, but understand that it’s only a suggestion.

You will get a lot of suggestions. Like, a lot. People in the writing/book world are usually very forthcoming with their knowledge and advice based on experience. They’re open and quick to help, and I can’t tell you how appreciative of that I am. I’ve learned (and continue learning) so much from them. It’s really nice to have someone you can run to with your issues, rants, and general questions, especially when that someone knows exactly what you’re going through because they’ve experienced it too.

But it can also be overwhelming to get so much information, sometimes at once, especially when suggestions from different people start to contradict each other. You start to question what is the best way to do something. Who’s right? Who do I listen to?

For instance, how to market and promote yourself and your book. This is a HUGE holy grail of questions, right? There are 202,193,874 ways to do this. Okay, I don’t know if that’s an accurate number, but that’s my best guess!

In all seriousness, there are so many ways to answer the question of marketing, and I don’t even know half the answers. That can be enough to overwhelm you in itself, but remember, it doesn’t mean you have to do all those things.

You don’t necessarily have to be active on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Blog, Newsletter, IG and Facebook stories, and all the other zillions of platforms out there. If it’s not your thing, don’t do it. It can honestly hurt you if you’re posting something just to post. Your audience wants genuine and authentic – they want to know about you and your book and your dogs – and if you’re not posting because you really want to, then it might have the opposite effect.

I personally am not on Twitter, for instance. I can see why people love it, and I might create an account someday down the road, but for right now, I don’t want one. I don’t feel I can handle one more account as I’m already juggling Instagram, my Facebook author page and personal profile, my reader group, and more. It’s a lot to balance (if there is such a thing). And until I’m comfortable, I won’t do anything else.

So… if you don’t want to be on a specific social media, you’re not alone. It’s not wrong, either. Don’t feel like you have to be everywhere just to be there. If you think you can put the time and heart into it, though, go forth and be prosperous! Then come back here, and teach me your ways.

In general, when you feel yourself hyperventilating as you research effective practices on anything and listen to other authors’ journeys, about anything, not just marketing, take a step back and consider your own goals because they’ll affect how you move forward. Consider what you’re trying to accomplish with your release, your online presence, your brand, etc. Then, go from there. Pick and choose what route you think will be beneficial and help you achieve your specific goals.

Also, and this is a big one, keep in mind during this process, that what works for someone else might not work for you, and vice versa. Don’t be afraid to take some time and experiment, either, to see what gives you results.

The more we continue down our paths, the more we’ll learn, and the more we’ll change our tunes as we grow. Which is also okay. We’ll learn what works and what doesn’t as we experiment, but let’s not forget there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to the ways we do things, as long as they’re helping us achieve our goals.

At the end of the day, trust yourself and your gut. Decide for yourself what feels right in the moment and what you’re comfortable with in order to accomplish those things you want.

One other thing that might be obvious, but one we might at times overlook:

Don’t forget to celebrate.

Pat yourself on the back. Go out for a drink. Sleep all day, if that’s how you celebrate (sounds damn good to me right about now!). But don’t forget to smile and clap and jump around in your living room in fuzzy socks while your dogs stare at you (this may or may not have happened – whatever). Because friend, you wrote a book and published it. Many, many, many people don’t ever finish a first draft, let alone publish their book. So, show it off, be proud, and dance it up.

If you’ve just released your book, congratulations. Enjoy this moment!

If you’re about to release, enjoy the process. Don’t let the overwhelming nature of publishing and marketing and all the things that come with it paralyze you. You can do it! Take notes along the way as you learn and figure out your process or of things you’d like to do differently the next time around. You’ve got this.

Now, I’m off to work on my next release. And yes, I will be dancing in my living room with Friends in the background once it’s finished and published too.

Write on, and party on, y’all.