“We might as well write some kick-ass books while we wear ourselves out and go down in history with ink and paper cuts.” – Arizona Tape. (Thanks Ari for letting me quote you).
This post is about being completely honest. I could tell you how wonderful my writing journey has been, that I’m happy as larry at my success, but it wouldn’t be the whole truth and frankly, today, I want to tell you the truth. So, here goes…
On the 18th February, it will be a year since I started this writing journey. I released The Soul Guide on Ava’s tenth birthday with high hopes. Think JK Rowling high hopes (I’m cringing here writing this, but its the embarrasing truth). Very soon, I came back down to earth with a mighty bang and a bruised ego.
Back then, I was completely naive with unrealistic expectations. I mean there are five million books available on Amazon, five million! Why on earth I thought my little book would reach number one with no promotion, no marketing, and no social media presence is beyond me…. naivety played a massive part. That, and having NO CLUE what I was doing.
This past year has been a roller coaster of emotions and I would be lying if I said it hadn’t affected me negatively sometimes, because it has. This year, I’ve realised quite a few things and I wanted to share. Here are some of them:
- Just because you publish a book it doesn’t mean it will be an overnight success (no shit right, but believe me I had rose coloured glass on) I mean how freaking self-centered?!
- There will be some breakthroughs that will make it all worthwhile – but you can’t sit back on your laurels because, like with all things, it’s never a guarantee too continued success. That takes way more effort.
- That some people will pretend to be your friend and then screw you over behind your back. (I’m talking authors here – I had no idea people could be so damn horrid). It happened to me, and I learned a hard lesson. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. I am like an elephant… I never forget.This one was a HUGE blow to me. HUGE.
- But, despite the above, you will find authors who will stick by you, support you and be your friend through the good and the bad. I’ve found my author family and I love them dearly.
- That you will also find true fans who will read all of your books and love them. These people are worth their weight in gold. Seriously, keep them close like little treasures and NEVER take them for granted. Your readers are your world, treat them with the respect they deserve.
- That you HAVE to put in the hours. There’s no getting around it. If you want to be a success, if you want to make a living out of it, you HAVE to do the time. Every single penny I’ve earned is because I have worked harder than I’ve ever done before in any job I’ve had. Apart from mothering… that’s still the hardest job.
- That not everyone you love will want to read your books. It might hurt (okay it hurts a lot) but you shouldn’t hold it against them. People’s tastes are different, it doesn’t mean they love you any less, it just means reading (or reading the kind of books you write isn’t their bag). Accept it, move on. It’s the only way.
- That you will push yourself to your limits… physically, emotionally and mentally. I’ve been through them all. Is it worth it..? I’d love to say yes. Today, I’m fifty-fifty. That’s because I am having a bad day. Tomorrow, I’ll be like, hell yeah it’s worth it (like I say, rollercoaster).
- That if you’re offered an amazing opportunity you HAVE to take it. I was offered the chance to write a story for the Snow & Seduction boxset with some incredible authors. I nearly didn’t do it because I was afraid I wouldn’t be good enough. I’m glad I did. Hands down the best decision I’ve made for all sorts of different reasons.
- That you will spend way more money than you can earn in the early days… but that eventually it will pay off. I’ve been at this a year… and it’s only just starting to pay off. I’m by no means in the money, but I am earning enough to be doing okay.
- That most days you won’t have a sodding clue what you’re doing, but you keep doing it anyway because it’s worth it.
- That there are motherfooking pirates who will take your work and give it away willy-nilly, and that there are thousands of people who will take your work without any thought or consideration to what it took to get your book out there. #areseholes
- That more than once you will come close to jacking it all in. Then you’ll pick up one of your stories, read it and realise that no matter what you have to continue if only for the love of creating, writing.
- That a lot of people will measure your success in how much money you earn, or how high your rankings are in Amazon. But, understanding that is only one way (okay, two, but who’s counting) to measure success will help you to continue on even when you don’t want to.
- That realising you’re only human, that you can’t push it to the limit and not expect to break. Listen to your body, if you can’t write anymore because you’ve pulled all-nighters for days in a row, then rest. TAKE A BREAK. RECUPERATE. You are no good to anyone a mess and you sure as shit won’t be able to write.
- Finally, and most importantly, that if you go into writing to make money you might be sorely disappointed. Don’t get me wrong, people do it all the time. People can and do make a living, some make a bloody great living and I am happy for those people. But nothing is guaranteed, one month you might be earning grands, the next a few hundred. You might get sticky (a term for staying in high rankings for long periods of time), you might not. That’s the nature of the beast and all you can do as a writer is try your damnedest to make what you do a success and try not to compare yourself to others.
A year after releasing my first book, I can honestly say that I’ve climbed Mount Everest every day to follow my dreams. It’s been hard. Some days I’ve wanted nothing more than to close my computer and never go back to it again. To say, fuck it. Enough’s enough. Those days are the worst. The pits actually.
Then there are days I am bouncing around in my seat because I’ve just written a scene that I’m proud of, or I’ve received a review from a total stranger who loves the world I’ve created. To know, that for a short period of time, I’ve made someone forget their daily troubles with my words and my worlds is the BEST feeling of all (one of the other ways to measure success – the best way, in my humble opinion). Being an author is wonderful, it’s heartbreaking, it’s frustrating and sick-making, it’s the best bloody feeling ever. It’s all of that and you have to be a freaking stubborn bugger to stick with it. It’s just as well I am…
Anyway, this is my honesty post. Make of it what you will.
Kelly (Bea) xx