Truth 1: If you don’t have expectations, you won’t be disappointed.
Yeah, I totally got fracked by this.
Becoming an author is exciting. Being swept up by the excitement is a mistake which is difficult to avoid. Most first-time authors will be blown away by a few momentous events. Here are the ones I recall:
- Writing THE END. You should be proud of this accomplishment no matter what happens afterward. Less than 1% of the planet’s seven billion people will even attempt this. This makes you extraordinary in that it shows you finish what you begin. This is a trade mark of your character, and no one can ever take this away from you.
- The first time you see a printed proof of your book’s cover. For me, everything became very real in that moment. You realize people will one day soon also be looking at this cover, flipping it over to read the blurb, and taking its contents home with them to read. It is both wonderful and unsettling.
- The first time you hold your book in your hands. I let out an involuntary audible WOW. I hugged it, fanned its pages, and breathed in the new book smell.
- The first time someone buys your book. In all likelihood, this will happen at your launch event and it drives home the idea that people will read your words. In so doing, they get to see the parts of us which are normally reserved for our intimate relationships, if we show them at all.
- When reviews come in. I outwardly pretend that reviews do not affect me. I’m too cool for that. Inwardly however, this could not be farther from the truth. While I do not live and die with each review, I enjoy hearing about what a reader took away from the read; especially the ones who totally got what the book is really about.
These things create a euphoric state which can keep us from seeing the realities of the book publishing world, while at the same time distracting us from taking care of business.
- I BELIEVED quality work was all that was required to break through. Believing in something does not make it happen, but it does show you are naïve.
- I REJECTED all the “negativity” about the impossibility of breaking through as a first-time non-credentialed non-fiction author. I remember thinking to myself at the time, “I will show them!” Turns out . . . they showed me.
- I was chasing a DREAM undaunted, because that is what we are supposed to do in order to be a success STORY. Dreams and stories are mostly fiction.
- Drive, ambition, and commitment will net success, or so the experts SAY. They always leave out the part about having access to working capital.
- I had HOPED by putting out a quality work which rivalled products coming out of the Big Five publishers, my book could rise out of the weeds. Hope didn’t get it done.
- I was ENCOURAGED by many people to do this, and I never once considered the fact that none of them knew anything about the publishing industry. Do not believe unqualified manuscript readers! If they are friends, fans, or relations they will say you are as good as Hemmingway without ever having read his work.
The moral of the story . . .
You need to have a plan for what happens once the afterglow wears off, and you only have one year at most to execute your strategy. Expect to be busy, and learn to measure success in dollars and cents instead of likes, shares, and followers. There is more to being an author than hanging around on social media sites, but we will leave that for next time.