Holy smokes! I can’t believe it’s almost 2016.
I’d love to say I had a spectacular year, but that would be a lie.
Aside from meeting Joanna Wylde in person and confirming first hand that she is absolutely one of the coolest people ever, 2015 was not my best year. I’m eager to put the past 12 months behind me. Why? If I could put 2015 into one word, that word would be STRUGGLE.
My forty-fifth year on this earth has been an uphill climb. Not climbing so much as clawing desperately at loose dirt to keep from falling into a deep abyss, both personally and professionally.
My attempt at establishing a profitable career in the publishing industry failed miserably. One epic failure after another. I did, however, learn some lessons along the way.
Shall I share? I’ll share. Besides, I need to write them down because I’ll probably forget them by February. After all, I am coming up on my forty-sixth year on this earth. Reminders are good.
Don’t get a big head.
When I signed my first contract, I foolishly thought, Hallelujah! I made it. I finally get to do what I love for a living. I’m a published author, motherf*ckers. All you doubters can suck it. It only took until my first royalty check to burst that bubble. I might catch grief for saying so, but being a published author doesn’t mean shit. If your previously published books aren’t selling, good luck getting a publisher (even one you already have a relationship with) to blink twice at you.
Don’t quit your day job.
You need money to sell books. Yes. You need money to sell books. And if you are not making money off your previously published works, or in my case, deep in the red from pimping previously published works, you are screwed. Because now, not only will publishers not blink twice at you, you have to come up with the funds to self publish and market. Good editors, cover artists, etc., don’t come cheap. And even if you’re lucky enough to sign with a publisher, if you aren’t in a position financially to pimp the ever loving hell out of your books, or you haven’t made the right friends in the industry, good luck getting anyone in this saturated market to buy them, let alone read them.
Don’t read reviews.
Yes, it’s true, good reviews pump you up, make you feel like you’re walking on clouds. You can read ten or twenty great reviews in a row, but read just one bad, and you’re destroyed. For days. Remember lesson number one? Yeah. When that big head gets popped, it’s devastating not only to your ego, but your creative soul. You have to know that not every creature on the earth is going to like your work. You don’t, however, have to open yourself to that negativity. This gig is hard enough. People’s opinions are their own. Remember that.
Give yourself a break.
Not every writer can squeeze out ten books a year, or ten thousand words a day. Do what works for you. Not every writer is going to make bestseller lists. Stop comparing yourself to other authors, because if you do, you’re playing a game of catch up that nobody can win.
Never, ever forget why you started writing in the first place.
It’s so easy to drown in the chaos of social media and marketing, to question why one author is popular and another isn’t. How often do we let deadline pressures, or word count goals suffocate our joy? If you don’t love the hell out of what you do, if you don’t get lost in your stories, lose time while you’re writing, live and breathe your characters, then what’s the point?
I started writing because I loved telling stories. Back then, I never considered I’d be published someday. And I was happy writing. And you know what? I needed the rejections, the disappointments, trials, and distractions of this past year. I needed to crash and burn to remind me why I started writing in the first place–IT’S MY HAPPY PLACE. My escape. I lost sight of that in my pursuit of success.
So if I never sell another book, I’m okay with that. I’ll continue to tell stories. It’s who I am.
If I sell a million books, I’m okay with that too. I’ll continue to tell stories. I’ll just use a better computer.
Either way, I’m letting go of all the negatives, and never losing sight of my happy place again. I’m too old for that shit.