I’ve spent some time this last month thinking about being an author and what it means to me. A few weeks ago an aspiring author was telling me she models herself after me.
My career is a work in progress. The more I learn, the more I find that I don’t know a thing. Publishing is constantly changing and the demand for Romance is high, but so is the output from authors. I love that Indies have broken through the barriers and can give readers what they want and what they didn’t know they needed. The days of Gatekeepers are done and readers can find a story about almost any combination of partners and players. We are also faced with a tough economy, declining sales, sky-rocketing advertising costs, and a genre that is filled with many sub-par to downright crappy books. Everybody is entitled to their opinion and some feel the need to not only state in a review they didn’t like the book, but to attack the author personally.
So What’s A Writer To Do?
- You create a village of support. Find your tribe. This doesn’t happen overnight; you will gain and lose members of your circle. You hold on to those that are kind to you and then repay them with the same.
- You get over your damn self. This world is filled with ego. I believe that you have to have a healthy one in order to survive. However, diva-like ways are not acceptable. Think before speaking and then think again. Do not become a professional victim, instead be the one that others turn to for strength. Please know that in order to succeed and survive that you have to hustle every day.
- Give back. When I was starting this journey, I had author friends share great advice with me. I was disheartened to find that one of my favorite authors, and friend, was not helpful. In fact, she looked at me as someone who was trying to take money from her pocket. She is an award-winning author who hits lists with almost every book in no way was I her competition. I decided not to be like her. If you are new, ask me and I will try to give you a good and very honest answer. I’m a cheerleader—I want you to succeed because then I can enjoy your victories.
- Like REO Speedwagon says, “Roll with the Changes” (Google the 80’s band). Enjoy the highs and trudge through the lows. In this business, it can change within the next hour. Turn off social media, talk to your trusted friends, take a walk, love on your pet. It will get better!
- Get a Team and treat them well. In the beginning, I had “people.” It took me about two years to figure out that they weren’t giving me their best effort. So I broke up with them and I found other people. My Admanistrative Assistant dropped into my life because we both worked the overnight shift and were bored out of our heads. He read and wanted to learn more about how a book is created, and I have the talent of breaking a computer, so he taught me how to do things without making the screen go blank. I use two cover artists for different series and I adore them both. I speak their creative language and designing covers is a joy. Finding the right editor took time. I started with a highly recommended company, but the critiquing style nearly broke me. I lost my confidence and dreaded the day when the returned edits hit my inbox. When I finally had enough, I started looking around. The relationship with your editor is one of faith, guidance, and a good bit of hand-holding. I trust this person with my most intimate thoughts regarding my ideas. I took an online class and loved how the instructor handled some pretty zany ideas. She never said, “That sucks,” or “Are you insane?” Instead, she gently offered a different direction or explained how the idea could be better served. I mustered my courage and asked if she was taking on new clients, she was, and we are still together. She knows I will never handle commas correctly and I trust that she will make my story better, so I listen when she shares her thoughts. She is a nurturer and that is exactly what I need.
- Know when it is time. If you are unhappy, dreading “writing time,” or cringing anytime you think about your career—get out. Life is too short to do something that makes you miserable.
So yeah, I’m an Author. I love what I do even through the tough times, the uncertain times, the days where I reread what I wrote and wonder how I could have done it any worse. To me, all of that is part of the deal. The good outweighs the bad. Because of writing I have made friends all over the world, traveled to events where we discuss books, I’ve met artists that I admire, seen more than my share of stupidity, and listened to hurtful comments and wondered if I belonged. Still, every morning I wake up and look forward to sitting down with my laptop, sharing the scene that plays over and over in my head, and telling you my story.
Stay Strong and Remember what REO preaches.