Well, it's that time of year again. and this year I'm going to celebrate - mostly with my family, and with a side project just for me (for now...maybe), but a bit here on my blog, too.
Publishing is not an easy business. It's full of headaches, heartbreaks, and many, many trials. There are plenty of days I'm not sure I know what exactly I'm doing...and others where I'm pretty sure that I have a handle on things. Writing has its ups and downs, sometimes readers (and sadly other authors) can be cruel, and sometimes I overwork myself, but if there's anything I've learned, it's this:
Publishing is worth it.
I'm worth it. My stories are worth it. The readers are worth it. The experience is like no other.
So, today to celebrate, I'm going to list some of the things I've learned from publishing, and say a bit about them. Hopefully, this post will inspire others of you who are wanting to break into the publishing business, or who are in it already. I can't give every advice right this moment, because that would never fit in a single post alone, but I can hopefully spread some publishing cheer and let you know that, hey, when the going gets tough, keep on going. You won't regret it in the end!
What I've Learned From Publishing (Thus Far) ~
Don't be discouraged if discovery takes time.
Nothing happens overnight, even if it seems like it does. I've been published for three years now (yay!), and I'm really only just starting to take off. I can blame some of it on my lack of know-how in the beginning and my age, but really it's all just a matter of timing. Even though things may not happen as fast as you want them to, remember that there is a reason, and that you learn things along the way - and nothing, no amount of discovery or praise, can take those lessons away; you'll need them later on, and in the end you'll rather have learned them than have spent extra time in the spotlight.
Don't let the crowd sway you.
There are so many ways of publishing now, and so much information to take in. I think a lot of authors become entrenched in this information - in the "what you should do", and in the "what worked for me". While trying new things is great, don't overload yourself, and keep in mind that different things work for different people. I know I tried all of the "fool proof" bits when I started publishing, and quite a few of them didn't work out...and quite a few more gave me a headache. Find a place where you can feel free to be yourself, where you can connect with other readers and writers, and commit to it; build friends, not just business contacts.
More is not always better.
This year in publishing, I tried something new: releasing quite a few stories in a short amount of time. I had heard, as stated above, that this was the "thing to do" to get big, to get readers, etc., and so I gave it a try - and it didn't work, not for me; in fact, I think I lost a lot of my writing spirit that I've been working to gain back.
It's easy to get caught up in how many books you have published, in how many reviews you have, in numbers, but numbers are not everything; there's a reason authors love language (not always more than math; that might only be me). Find a pace that you can work at, and stick to it. It's great to challenge yourself, but if you and your work get lost in that challenge, especially the quality of your work, then it isn't worth it in the end.
Publishing makes it hard to continue to view writing as an art, as a hobby, as fun, sometimes. When you have even more expectations placed on you - from yourself, from readers, from media telling you "how to" - I think you can lose a part of yourself, and a part of your writing. Writing is far from easy, but it shouldn't be grueling work, and if it becomes that, then you need to step back and re-evaluate. We all have our own way of doing things, our own timing, and that is okay. Sometimes, you might have to fight to keep your writing spirit, but don't give up on yourself or your work.
Don't be afraid to find your niche.
Literature is a beautiful thing in its simplicity, and in its complexity. There are so many genres, with more new genres popping up seemingly every day! Some people will tell you to write many genres, and some will tell you to only write one, but I think it's good to do both, or only one. They key is to write what you love, and to keep writing it. No matter the genre, if a story captures your attention, go for it!
Also, don't be afraid of being overly "repetitive" in your work. If you like a plot point, or an area of study, then write it; find new ways to incorporate it each time. Me, I love memory loss, and the struggle that comes with discovering who you were, and reconciling it with who you are now. I have multiple stories set around this concept, and I plan to write more. It doesn't mean the idea tires, simply that I have to find a new way of looking at it, and going on that journey to discover new things about something seemingly "old" is always exciting.
Don't get caught up in the details.
I suffered from this this year. There are so many things to keep track of when publishing - due dates, marketing, social media, giveaways, etc. It's really very easy to get lost in doing all of this work, and stop doing the work that brought you to publishing in the first place: writing.
All of those things are needed, are important, but if you lose your writing spirit, it's all for naught. Of course, we can't all go out and hire a big marketing team, and not all of us can be traditionally published (they do a lot of their own marketing, too, anyway), or published by a small press. But, publishing and writing aren't about what you can't do, they're about what you can do. Find out what you can do, and do it. Don't overwork yourself on the details, and don't forget writing, but do what you can. It may only be writing posts on Tumblr, tweeting on Twitter, and posting news on Goodreads, but it's something, and it will lead somewhere.
Word of mouth is always the best advertisement, and eventually people will start talking about your book; it just takes time. Don't lose sight of what matters most for what matters, but isn't the whole picture.
Don't be afraid to share.
So many people are afraid to share their work, let alone publish it, and this saddens me. I'll say that it isn't easy to publish, and I'll say that not everyone will love your work (rather, some will hate it immensely, but there's always a flip-side, too), but I can say, again, that it's worth it.
Writing, I think, is one of the best ways to peer into another person's soul - and you know what, you're never the only soul out there who thinks the way you do, and there are always others who will be inspired by your new perspective. Writing is a way to share the world, and your view of it, and that view is worth sharing.
So - share it! Find a writing group, an online critique, or publish, but share it. Be conscious of where you share it, be wise, but don't be afraid.
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I hope you've enjoyed these tips! Here's to another great year of writing and publishing.
Thank you so much, readers, for your support! You've been fantastic. :)