Good afternoon, Arrowheads! Welcome back on this lovely Friday, which also happens to be my 25th birthday! *Releases balloons to celebrate!*
However, today is also special for a couple more reasons, as it’s the day I completed Speak Your Mind last year, and the day I released my debut novel, Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl, two years ago. So, today marks my second full year of being a published author, and I’d like to share with you the lessons I’ve learned within the past year.
Lesson 1: It’s OKAY if Someone Doesn’t Like Your Book
The toughest lesson I’ve had to stomach over the past year as reviews finally started coming in on Goodreads is that it is perfectly fine if someone ends up not liking your book. Yes, it hurts like a bullet train smashing into your heart, but there’s nothing you can do about it.
What’s going to happen if you dwell on that bad review and let it eat you alive? You’re going to show your ignorance and do or say something stupid that will hurt you worse than the rating did. So, by all means, if any of your books receive a bad review:
#1: Don’t React
#2: Don’t Take it to Heart
Just because someone doesn’t like your book for whatever reason, it doesn’t mean you’re a bad writer. It doesn’t mean you wrote a horrible book. It doesn’t mean your author career is forever tarnished. It just means that particular person did not enjoy the book.
And here’s the kicker… they are not dumb or hateful for doing so. They rated your book low for a reason that may seem dumb to you, but it’s something they feel strongly about. At the end of the day, we’ve got to realize that not everyone is going to like us, our books, or what we are passionate enough to write about. But, that’s fine. It’s okay to have different opinions.
At the same time, don’t let someone’s difference in opinion make you question your worthiness. This mindset hit me hard a couple different times throughout 2018, and I had to realize that I am worthy of being a Christian author. You are worthy, too. God made you and gave you your gift of writing for a reason. Keep writing, no matter what anyone else thinks of it.
Lesson 2: Book Signings are Not For Introverts
So far I’ve only had one book signing at a local library. Unless I eventually become a bestselling author, it’ll probably be my last. During the book signing last July, I learned I suck at selling things. My family and boyfriend lured more people to my table than I did. I forgot to prepare a banner for my table. I had a hard time getting my sales pitch across to visitors.
I’m an introvert. I’m not a people person, and it showed through the small amount of books I sold. It was a check off my bucket list for sure, but until I miraculously gain better social and marketing skills, it’s a no from me.
Lesson 3: Relationships with Fellow Authors Matter
On a lighter note, my second year as a published author spawned several good friendships in the indie author community. I’ve been blessed to read and review many books for friends, and they’ve helped promote my books as well. We often send each other pins on Pinterest or encourage one another through Twitter messages, blog comments, and emails. It’s been an absolute blast getting to know them this past year, and I’m excited to work alongside them on future promotions!
If you’re just getting started in the indie author community, I highly recommend hopping on Twitter, Goodreads, or Pinterest and finding like-minded authors in your genre. By saying “like-minded”, I’m not trying to be hypocritical of my first Lesson’s point; I say this because it’s good to have a group of authors who support your writing rather than be in a group that doesn’t get your writing. There’s a difference between constructive criticism and destructive criticism. Learn to recognize this, and you’ll be golden.
Lesson 4: Success as an Author Doesn’t Define Me
Over the past year, I’ve stressed myself out to the max trying to pave the path to success as an author. I bought Goodreads ads. I seeked out reviews (and had an immature meltdown over the ones I received). I recently took a hiatus in December because Speak Your Mind‘s first two week’s sales were nowhere near as high as I had hoped.
During my hiatus, I took a step back and analyzed what success really means to me. What I wanted was to one day make enough money in sales that I could write full-time. In my two years as a published author, and especially within the past year as I’ve compared myself to other authors, I’ve done nothing but beat myself up over lack of “success”, when in reality book sales haven’t been nonexistent. Some months, yes, but not shabby. And despite some low ratings, I still get compliments on both books. Some from people I know personally, and some from people I don’t. Either way, it always makes me happy to know my writing has made someone else smile.
3rd Year Goals
So, in my third year as a published author, my main goal is to define “success” differently. My author career is not going to skyrocket overnight. It may never skyrocket. But, I like my books, and some other people do too. I’d be doing a disservice to fans of previous works, and myself, to give up on my dream.
Going forward, I will be defining “success” as finishing more stories, and aiming to make those readers I do have smile more. Hopefully, next year around this time, I’ll have a lot more positive lessons to share. 🙂
Thanks for stopping by on my birthday, Arrowheads, it means a lot! 🙂
And, to celebrate, you can get Can’t Beat the Heart of a Carolina Girl for FREE today on Kindle! Click here to claim your copy! Speak Your Mind is also available for $2.99, and it would mean so much if you picked up a copy as well! 🙂