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Well here it is – the very last day of 2012. Nearly 6 hours from now, I will be watching the ball drop and ring in 2013. It’s very exciting that a new year is about to begin, especially since that Mayan apocalypse turned out to be a joke, right? LOL!

Seriously though, I am looking forward to start a new year, and start things off fresh. There’s something so relieving and refreshing to start things off clean because it really is a chance to dust yourself off and begin again. In my case, 2012 is my dust.

Not that the year wasn’t lousy for me – of course not! I saw the publishing of my first book! I literally completed a novel and published it all on my own! How many people can say they did that?

The Dark Proposal has done well. As I mentioned in my previous post, it has either sold or downloaded for free an estimated 700 times, which is great. Some loved it, some thought it was OK, some wished they hadn’t read it. And that’s fine with me! This is my first novel, my first ever attempt at releasing a story to the world for total strangers to judge. When you put it into perspective, it takes a lot of guts to do that.

Some would say confidence and fearlessness is really the trick, but for me, it really was a now or never attitude to getting my first book out. I wasn’t completely confident in my story, though that might have been new-author jitters. But I really felt I had to get started with my writing career. I was unemployed at the time, and I felt I had to do something meaningful while I was doing whatever I can to get a job somewhere. So why not fulfill my lifelong dream?

I am glad that I published my first book and I am pleased that I could finally call myself an author. But I think I still have a lot to learn despite having learned plenty this year about writing and publishing.

First off, writing a novel is a tough thing to do – harder than it seems. It really takes all of your mental, emotional, spiritual and even physical energy to tell a well rounded story. It is so true that you have to give your work your very being. After all, you are creating a world and creating the lives in that world, so why shouldn’t you pour yourself into your novel?

I think there is a lot of opportunity for me to grow as an author – as long as I am up for it. You really have to keep an open mind and pay attention to critiques of your work and even others. Maybe you’ll be reading a review on Amazon or Goodreads of someone else’s book, and something will click in your head on what your story or character needs. Being open minded is the only way to grow.

Now, paying attention to critiques can be tricky. On one hand, you should definitely consider the words of beta readers or critique group participants. Notice the key word is consider, not take to heart. While you must think over what point anyone is trying to make, understand it is your story and you have the final say on how you want it to be written. So, its a delicate balance on what you want and what your potential audience wants for your book.

Now on the other hand, there are the reviews to your already published novel. There are many who say an author should never read the reviews to their books on Amazon or Goodreads. All they should do is make sure the rating is good enough to maintain sales, and keep working on their next novel. But honestly, who can’t resist reading reviews?

I was guilty of this and it took a while for me to realize that it is best to not read reviews. I thought I was strong enough to handle criticism and I knew damn well I wasn’t going to harass anyone who gave me a bad review. But I admit it hurt to see the negative reviews. I’m sure every author feels that way when someone says their book wasn’t good, especially one that is brand new in the world of book publishing. Thick skin is important in this field, and it is best that you develop one if you want to continue publishing novels.

I confess there were times where I doubted my abilities as a writer and wished I had received more critiques before publishing. I also wished I had taken my time perfecting The Dark Proposal as much as possible. I even thought about unpublishing my book, fix it up and re-release it again. But that wasn’t quite logical with the first version already being out there, so I had to let my novel be.

You live, you learn and you grow. That is all you can do. There is no other choice. So, I’m learning from what I’ve read in those negative reviews to make the sequel to The Dark Proposal hopefully better than its predecessor. I’m going to work harder on the follow-up because now I know what I am getting myself into. While I tend to wish I knew before, but how could I if I hadn’t experienced what I had this year?

So, as 2012 comes to an end, I am pleased to say that this is the year that I became a published author. A year from now, as 2013 comes to a close, I would like to say, this is the year I became a better author!

Happy New Year everyone! 🙂

EDIT: Here’s a meme I found that sums up what I’ve learned in 2012: