Updated: Dec 11, 2021
My first book with a traditional publisher will debut in one week. Here's what I've learned.
The biggest and most important thing is to learn patience. I had no idea the time it would take to see this dream to fruition. I first imagined this story back in spring 2018, when I discovered the history of French Canada. I finally found the guts to start writing it in summer 2019. By 2020, I was ready to pitch. And eight months later, I had a manuscript that I couldn't find a home for. But I kept revising, kept learning, kept dreaming of this manuscript becoming a book. Finally, in early 2021, I had an offer from Black Rose Writing. And here we are, the final weeks of the year, and Daughter of the King will become my debut book. That's nearly four years from idea to print. Four years of believing in something, despite all the rejections.
Keep writing. So you want to be a writer? Then write. It's fairly straightforward (but nowhere near simple). My time was split between book marketing, planning promotions, and drafting another manuscript. And then another still. Keep that ball rolling. Not only will your career need this (remember, four years?) but so do you. Franz Kafka said, "A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity," and that's not too far off. Keep your eyes forward.
Get comfortable being uncomfortable. This one was easier than I anticipated. Most of us writers are solidly in the "introvert" camp. Well, throw that to the side, because now it's time to listen to yourself on podcasts and look at yourself on Instagram lives, host parties, and discuss your book with interviewers and people you do not know. You need to pitch your book to bookstagrammers and booktubers and reviewers you have never met. Humble doesn't cut it here. Learn to speak confidently and proudly about your work. For me, the more I do it, the better I feel about promoting this book that I have loved from the first day I started writing it.
Accept the highs and lows. They are part of the journey. One might think that once you sign that contract, your woes fall away. Nope. Insecurities don't go anywhere. Imposter syndrome still rears its ugly head. Why? The stakes are higher now. The stage is bigger. Readers who adored something else you wrote might hate this one. Even author friends who love you won't love your book. Some people won't get your work. Remember, those aren't your readers. The path to finding your readers can be lonely and difficult and make you question your abilities. It's normal.
You won't get rich. All that money you put into editing and extra marketing and website development? Don't expect to recoup it. Not at first. This might come as a shock, but the sad truth is that most of us make very little from our work. It's all right though because authors don't do this for the money. We do it for the love of books and writing and contributing something to the world. .0025% of authors sell over 1,000 copies. Unless you are one of the big names in publishing, that day job still takes up most of your time. You want to make money at this? Keep writing.
Bad reviews aren't that bad. Many fellow authors might disagree with me here. But hear me out. Someone who wasn't an author friend, critique partner, family or friend, picked up my book and read it. And offered their thoughts. And that is pretty cool. Maybe they didn't love something about it. Maybe they hated something about it. That's okay. That is still a reader, and I cherish every one of them. It is rare to have a nasty reviewer (though it does happen), and most are just very open with their thoughts. Accept it. Own it. And research shows that a mix of good and bad reviews is preferable for sales. For every hater, you will have ten supporters who gush over your work. AIl this means you published a damn book, you amazing author, you.
Become a good literary citizen. Preferrably a long time before you publish. You need your people. Not only will they champion for you, they will be there to lift you when things go south. They will be the first to post reviews and blast their social media, because you've done it for them and the literary world can be a lonely place, so find your book tribe. I've met some of my closest friends through Instagram, writing groups, and classes. We are all in this together and I couldn't do any of it without them.
Be proud. Of all the people who decide to write a book, only 3% finish them. Approximately 13% of those pitching will be traditionally published. And I am one of those statistics. That is one hell of an accomplishment.
It's worth it. Through all the ups and downs and sideways spins, fulfilling a lifelong dream is worth its weight in gold. To know that I've accomplished something I've worked for, lost sleep over, cried over, means that I didn't give up. I believed in myself when many others didn't. I learned. I grew. Now I get to sit back and enjoy the results of all that hard work.
As my debut nears, I take on the day with a blend of excitement and anxiety. I've put everything into writing this book and marketing it, so I can't wait to see what the next month brings. And I'll still be writing every day, eyes forward on my future as an author.
Here's my tenth lesson learned: Never give up. Magic happens when you least expect it and publishing is no different. That project you've been thinking of, working on, put away in a drawer... don't give up on it. The world needs your voice.
If you'd like to preorder Daughter of the King, click below. Release date Dec 16, 2021.