I’ve found that during my author interviews one of the most common questions I get asked is if I have any advice for aspiring authors. And I do! A lot, actually. So I thought I’d put together a list of some things I wish I’d known before taking the leap into the publishing pool.
1. You won’t make a lot of money.
Weirdly, a lot of people assume that being an author is a get-rich-quick kind of job. Sorry to disappoint you if you’re one of those unfortunately misinformed people, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. It’s a sad reality but it’s incredibly rare for an author to make enough money to live off of their book sales. Sure, you hear of authors like J. K. Rowling and James Patterson making millions off their books, but they are some of the few exceptions. Just don’t be disappointed if your book doesn’t sell and you don’t immediately start raking in the cash.
2. You have to market your own book.
Ugh. I know. Marketing kind of sucks. Unfortunately, publishers don’t do a whole lot for you unless you’re (gasp!) J. K. Rowling or James Patterson. Marketing is a task that’s often times left up to the author. And if you’re self-published, it’s completely and utterly your responsibility. You have to learn how to do it yourself and do it well. It can be a daunting task but don’t be discouraged. Now you know and can start preparing!
3. It’s hard to get noticed
This was a hard one for me. I assumed (like many first time authors) that my books would immediately get picked up and tons of people would be reading and loving them. Nope. It’s hard work. This is where the marketing comes in. You have to market your heart out and hope, hope, hope that your book will eventually get noticed. I’ve had books that sat around for ages before even one single sale. So again, don’t be discouraged, just keep plugging away.
4. You won’t always get nice reviews.
Oh yes, those nasty little one star reviews. You’ll get some. It won’t all be praise and worship from your readers. There will always be a reader or two who won’t like your book. In fact, there might be a lot of people who don’t like it. Just remember to develop a thick skin soon and DO NOT reread those pesky one stars over and over again until you’ve drowned in a puddle of tears. Believe me, I’ve done it and it got me nowhere.
5. Friends and family will be impressed but also skeptical.
I hate telling friends/family/acquaintances about my books. I avoid it at all costs. From my experience, people are either really excited and want some free copies (I WISH I had access to free copies) or hand me patronizing compliments and ask me skeptically how much money I’ve made. Seriously. I’ve lost count of how many people have asked me how much money I make.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve had plenty of family members and friends who are utterly supportive and amazing, but don’t automatically expect everyone you know to run out and buy a copy of your book. It just doesn’t happen. And don’t be offended if they don’t. Not everyone is a reader.
6. Everything in publishing moves at a glacial pace.
This is more for the aspiring traditionally published authors out there. If you choose to self-publish things can go as quickly or slowly as you want. When it comes to publishing houses, on the other hand, things are about as fast as a turtle strolling through mud. I don’t know why this is. I really don’t. The average amount of time between the signing of a contract and the actual release of a book is about one year. An entire year. So just be ready for that kind of time commitment. It’s very, very slow, but also very worth it.
7. You’ll have fun!
Please don’t let any of the above tidbits scare you off. Publishing your book is fun! It can be scary and daunting and a lot of hard work, but it’s so completely worth it. My biggest piece of advice to you is to just sit back and have some fun. Interact with your readers, find marketing strategies that are enjoyable, and absolutely keep on writing.