Updated: May 2
Forget for a moment, about being an indie author…although this post is written from that point of view. Just being an author, traditionally published or indie is a hard as shit road. Doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it…it just means buckle up buttercup, shit is about to go down.
Now, my history: I don’t have a degree in English or writing. Sometimes I can barely string two coherent sentences together. But I have a Forensic Chemistry degree and a lot of different personalities that all live in my head and tell me what they want me to do. Thus, helping me create a shit ton of great stories. Plus, I live with teenagers. I need an escape, so I’m highly motivated.
When I set out to be an author, I had no idea I would later end up needing anxiety medicine and counseling due to the enormous amounts of self-doubt that swirl around in my head.
If you think writing the book, short story, novella, whatever you’re writing was the difficult part, fasten your seat-belt baby. When you publish, that’s when the real work begins. And if you gave up 1/3 of the way through your first novel, because it was too hard to figure out the plot lines, then you won’t make it past your first bad review.
If you have low self-esteem, you get your feelings hurt easily; you rely heavily on positive praise and reinforcement from others, you may want to use a pen name and never tell anyone your true identity. Or just not do this all together.
If you can’t take criticism, be it constructive or from a complete asshole who has no clue what they’re talking about, then this profession probably isn’t for you.
If you think you will be instantly a best seller and have people buying the movie rights to your books or that you will become a social media darling, no. that is probably not going to happen. Not saying it can’t, but I wouldn’t quit your day job.
If you are writing to become famous, put out a porn video instead. It would be a lot more satisfying, and if you play your cards right, you can get a Bravo show out of it.
Right about now you’re thinking what a sourpuss she is…no, I just want to tell you the worst possible bad news up front.
So how should you approach this roller coaster ride you are about to embark on and still keep what little sanity you have left and your hair?
Be ready to share your work with a critique group or someone who will give you honest feedback before you ever think of publishing. If hearing negative criticism is hard for you to take, then you won’t be able to handle the bad reviews you’re going to get once you publish it. And even if you become a bestselling author, you will still get negative reviews.
You have to be willing to make changes to your writing when it is warranted and stand behind what you wrote when you think they aren’t.
You need to realize that you don’t know everything, especially if you are just starting out. Give credence to those who have come before you and have offered advice. I’m not referring to myself, I’m speaking of the Joanna Penns, Derek Murphys, and Jane Freidmans of the world.
Let down your guard and ask for help when you need it. Don’t think you can do this alone. You can’t.
The point is, you can’t give up at the first sign of hardship.
Is it all really this bad?
Yes and no.
You will pour your heart into your story. Whatever story that is. Then you will share it. For Pete’s sake, don’t share it till you have edited it….
Not everyone will like it. That, my friend, is a fact of life. Some may hate it. Some may give you a review, and you want to punch them, but…in the end…it’s their opinion, and they have a right to it. You’re going to have to move on.
Now, if you have 10 reviews and 8 are bad…you may need to revise your book, just saying.
If you can say, I can deal with that, then go for it. Do it…even if you take a year or more to write it, if you keep moving forward, then you're moving in the right direction. Writing a novel will be one of the most rewarding experiences you will have. Believe in yourself. And don’t give up. Even when it seems like you don’t have a clue what you are doing.