10 Things I Didn’t Know about Being an Author

When you set out to become an author, you think you know all there is to it.  How much more complicated can it be?  The hardest part was writing the book…right?  Uh, no.  There’s a bunch of stuff I didn’t realize about becoming an author–here’s just 10 of them, in no particular order.

1. Editing is hard. Trying to make high-level edits in a 300-page manuscript is probably the most disheartening thing I’ve ever done. I approach editing with an ominous dread, and that dark cloud remains for the full 6-8 months I spend doing it. (I’m having palpitations just thinking about it.)

2. Writing is therapeutic (even subconsciously). The notes I wrote for The Grim went a totally different direction than what my novel became. Why? Because I had unresolved issues in my subconscious—things I thought I dealt with but clearly hadn’t. And they surfaced, blatantly, on the pages of my manuscript. However, when the work was finished, I not only felt the pain in my heart lift but the story I told was better for it.

3. Networking is more involved than writing. No one is ever going to read your book if there’s no venue by which to advertise it. There are countless people willing to help you get the word out; you just have to find them.

4. Indie authors are friendly. The independent author community is vast, and every single member of that community knows intimately how tough this industry can be. Don’t be afraid; if you ask, we’re more than happy to assist you in any venture you’re pursuing (or at least point you to someone who can.)

5. Follow the Muse. Every time I forced myself to write, my work was horrible. Some people can write under pressure, but I definitely need inspiration. The Muse visits me much more often these days than he/she used to, but it’s worth it to wait.

6. A bad review doesn’t mean my career is over. My recent experience with a terrible review nearly suffocated me. I second guessed the validity of my work and my pursuit of writing as a career. But I realized eventually that it’s absolutely impossible to please everyone. So glean the meat and throw the bones in the trash. In other words, take what’s constructive from the review and leave the cynicism where it is.

7. Word of mouth is the key to sales. No matter how much money you flood into building SEO or driving interest to your site, these strategies do not guarantee you a sale. What does move sales is a friend telling another friend, “Man, I couldn’t put this down!” Get reader reviews; those are the ones that really count.

8. You DO need a website. As you build an audience, they need somewhere to connect with you, even if it’s just a blog site. I’m sorry, but Twitter and Facebook, while useful tools, are not enough. Blogger, WordPress, and other such sources will let you set up a site for free. You have to do it; you just have to.

9. Inspiration comes from many places. Be atypical in the way you explore the world. There’s an incredible story nestled in the “every day”. You’ll be surprised what you find.

10. Perseverance is a must. No one is going to hand you your dream on a silver platter. You have to
work hard at it and find ways to make the no’s you hear into yeses. It’s tedious and difficult at times, but if you push forward, it all pays off.

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