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’.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.