Many people are surprised to hear some of my thoughts on becoming an author. I wanted to share four of those thoughts here:
#1: NOT EVERYONE WILL BE HAPPY FOR YOU
I had a conversation with a friend recently about when I released UNFINISHED. He mentioned a conversation he had with a mutual friend who was unhappy that I “focused on writing a book instead of my day job” where this person volunteered. I immediately chuckled because I knew that person’s perception of an author is that they are writing eight hours a day or working long, painful hours neglecting their families and responsibilities. The reality was that I set a schedule to write UNFINISHED in eight months that was only four hours of writing a week. FOUR! Most authors, even the most successful, full-time ones are only writing in 2-4 hour blocks per day.
I set goals, deadlines, and word counts per session and mostly ended the sessions after those two-hour blocks were over. I actually wrote the book about these goal-completing methods I used.
#2: IT’S NOT A FULL-TIME JOB
As mentioned above, writing is rarely a full-time job. Nor does it come with full-time pay, or part time pay…or even just ‘pay’. I didn’t make any money on writing until my third book and even at that, it was still way south of 500.00 bucks. Not even close. There’s so much overhead for printing, formatting, editing, illustrating, and typesetting that you have to sell typically at least 300 copies to break even. Take my children’s book, Twinkle, Twinkle, All The Stars. After printing and Amazon fees, myself and illustrator Ruth Oosterman profit 1.00 per book each.
So why would I keep doing it if it’s not making me any real money? I think that’s the definition of ‘finding your passion’. I could care less if I make any money on my next book. I’m just in love with the process and the format. I’ll keep doing it until I run out of good ideas. It was never for any type of pay.
#3: DON’T EXPECT PEOPLE TO CARE
You’ve spent a year of your life in writing this book. You are writing things down that leaves you vulnerable. You imagine a future sitting behind the table at book signings with people walking up, tears streaming down their face, telling you how much your work impacted your life. That gives you the motivation to push through. You get to release day and you are devastated to find that the only people that care are a few family members and friends. You may have received 50 Likes on your announcement, but the next day, people haven’t even purchased the book and have moved on. Your book falls from #308,755 on Amazon down to #756,345.
You can’t go into your first work expecting everyone to care. You have to ask yourself, “Am I writing to be to known or am I writing because I love the process?” The latter will sustain you. If you think you are going to be on the New York Times Bestseller list on your first book, the odds are against you. If you write for the right reasons, the outcome won’t let you down.
#4: IF IT’S GOOD, IT WILL FIND AN AUDIENCE
The initial release of a book is very exciting, but I actually get way more joy out the random purchases that come a year or two after I’ve released the book. I stop and think, “Wow, people still care about something I made two years ago!”
Interest in your work goes in peaks and valleys. I can go a couple months with no one buying my books and then, like last week, someone will put in an order for 17 books! It’s a great feeling. It drives me to create work that is lasting, or as author Ryan Holiday would call it, being a ‘Perennial Seller’. We all want our work to last past our lifetime. For now, I’m just happy it has lasted a couple of years.
If you’d like more help through the process of writing your first book, I’m offering a discount on my coaching sessions HERE.