I’ve been a published author for just on a year and a half now, and I feel as if I’ve learnt a few things. I never thought I’d be in a position to offer people formal advice on writing, but here are five things I know now that I wish I’d known back then. I hope you get some value out of them.
1. Make time for marketing. Whether you’re self-published or traditional, it’s important to make time for things like teasers, reviewer requests/networking. Don’t skimp on this. When you think you’ve done enough, do a little bit more, especially in the beginning. Once your book is released, while you still have an awesome product to keep promoting, you can never get back the specific hype that comes along with releasing a book.
2. Always aim higher. When my first book was published, I was over the moon. Then I freaked out. I had to write a second book. And — and this is the kicker — it had to be better. Never be afraid to keep learning, to keep studying and to keep pushing yourself to refine your craft.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask. Ask for help, ask for advice, ask for someone else to bring you chocolate when you’re reading reviews and they’ve got you stuck to the couch in a sad slump — but ask. Nine times out of ten, people are so freaking loving and giving and will be happy to help, or at the worst politely refuse.
4. Celebrate every high. There are things about writing that can sometimes suck. It’s lonely. Sometimes, the words don’t come. At some point, someone might rip you off or offer you a service you don’t think was financially worth it. You might get a bad review. You might get a bad review that’s MEAN.
That’s why it’s so important to celebrate every high. I finished my book — hurrah! That’s picnic-date worthy with my husband. I’m on sale? That’s treating myself to any chocolate of my choosing while doing groceries. I hit some kind of list? That’s take-a-day-off-work worthy (to be fair, I work six or seven days a week, so it’s not like I’m completely slacking off). However you do it, celebrate those tiny things, whether it’s with a nice cup of tea or simply savouring the moment. You’re amazing. Embrace the awesome-sauce that is you.
5. No matter how much you think you can, writing with a puppy in your lap is virtually impossible. Particularly if she’s a Staffy and while she’s happy to sit still for half a sprint session, there will come a time where she’ll decide she’d much rather try and be in your mouth than on your lap. And that could cause you to lose an entire novel scene.
Lauren K. McKellar is a self- and traditionally-published author. Despite the hazards, she has kept her intensely energetic dog.