A Learning Curve and a Reward

In a recent interview for Authority magazine, I was asked, “What are five things you wish someone had told you before you wrote your first book?” Here are my ‘five things’.

  1. It will be hard to find time to write even though you are retired. I wish someone had told me this because I would have started with a strict schedule. I am a wife, a mom, a grandma, a friend, a client, and more. My husband requires food and attention, my kids want advice, my grandkids need to have sleepovers, my friends want to talk. I enjoy all of these interactions but setting boundaries so I have time for writing can be challenging.
  2. Some people don’t know the meaning of ‘constructive criticism’, and, at times, you will be subjected to cruel and negative remarks. When I wrote my first book I was very vulnerable. That book was my baby. Some of my initial readers were very critical. Although initially upset, I came to see this experience as a crash course in developing a thicker skin. Ultimately, I was able to single out those comments that best served my writing.
  3. Marketing is hard but necessary work. Be prepared to keep it up for more than just the first couple of months. I wish someone had made this abundantly clear to me from the start. I knew that I had to do the initial work, but I wasn’t prepared for the required long-term commitment. I gave up too soon with my first book. For the second, I developed a plan and that is making all the difference. I have given many podcast interviews and I have been a guest speaker at book clubs and Rotary clubs.  
  4. Family and close friends aren’t necessarily your niche readers. When I wrote my first book I was sure that family and friends would be the first to buy it. That is not necessarily the case. An author has to work at finding a following of avid readers.
  5. Reviews and ratings are hard to get. If someone had told me this I would have started asking for reviews/ratings a lot sooner. Many people who have read my books have taken the trouble to write me an email or a Facebook posting saying how much they enjoyed them. It would probably have been easier for them to post a rating and/or short review on Amazon, Goodreads, and other retail sites. These ratings make a big difference to an author. Now I always politely ask for a review.

I have learned so much in the process of writing two memoirs and I am still learning. Being an author can be rewarding and frustrating by turns. Validation of any sort means so much. That is why I am proud to have been named a finalist at the Page Turner Awards. The journey continues.