Part three on my look back at the one year since I published my first book. I meant to discuss one issue here and then have a fourth and final post next time, but I’d figured since I will only repeat myself in that one, I’ll mesh them together in this post.
Basically, was all my hard work writing my book, getting it ready, marketing it and dealing with the realities of being an author – a self-published one at that – worth it?
Two words: hell yes.
I got to fulfill my dream and I learned plenty along the way.
It wasn’t always easy. I wished my book had sold more copies. I wished I had done better with the marketing. There were times where I wondered if it was unwise to write a story with dark themes and no real hero while more happier books are doing so well. There were even times where I doubted my abilities as a writer and whether I really had storytelling skills at all.
In the end, I had to toughen up, learn from my mistakes and be honest about the decisions I made. I wanted to self-published because I was intrigued by the adventure and wanted control over my product. I thought I had a good idea on promoting it, thanks to my research, but I learned what really worked as I went along. And I learned that my being an author is not my one source of identity.
That last part was probably the toughest I learned this past year. For years, I felt that writing was the one thing I was good at. I had received so much praise for my writing since I was young that I came to rely on my abilities as a source of self-worth. That’s not very good if you’re going to release something to the world that not everyone is going to like and some will have strong negative reactions to it.
It was tough for me to read the negative reviews of “The Dark Proposal”. I thought I would be strong and sensible enough to deal with them, but since I tied my identity to my work, I proved myself wrong. It took a while for me to realize that there is so much more to me besides my writing. Being a writer is only one part of me, not a whole part.
And that is what I want to tell aspiring authors: there’s more to you besides your writing. Some already know that, and kudos to them. But there are some who don’t get that, and I’ve met some myself. Writing a book does not determine your self-worth. You are more than a storyteller. You are someone’s child. You may be someone’s sibling. You’re a friend. You’re a co-worker. You may be someone’s spouse and/or parent. You’re a member of society. These are the identities that matter most in life. Sure, your work can be a close second, but I cannot emphasize how much your work cannot be the main source of your identity. It is not permanently stable and you may be a success one day, but forgotten the next. There will always be someone better than you, and let’s not forget: writing is subjective. So what is amazing to someone is a piece of crap to the next person.
Remember the meme I posted earlier this year? That is so true. Just concentrate on doing your best each time you write a book. Someone will like it. Many will read it and not all will love it.
But so what? They read your work.
They. Read. Your. Work.
Think about it! Someone bought or downloaded your hard work and took the time to absorb every word and page, breathing in the life of your characters, and riding the story’s plot. Someone read your book.
And when you really think about it, that’s awesome beyond belief.
So not all of them liked it. Maybe you could’ve done better in some parts. Maybe the book just wasn’t for them. Take note on what you can improve on and carry on. Oh, and don’t make a habit on reading reviews. Every now and then is fine. Otherwise, you’ll go insane. I went down that road, and it was not pleasant!
Just remember, your books are not you, and you are not your books.
So that was my biggest lesson as an author. My first lesson was that of a self-published author. The second was as a business person, because writing is a business no matter what path you choose. But simply as an author, I learned there is more to me than the stories I create. And its given me some great peace of mind.
And I hope it does for you, too 🙂