10 Things I’ve Learned As A Self-Published Writer
The last six years as a self-published author have been transformative for me – both personally and professionally.
I’ve accomplished a lot in the course of six years. I have also had a ton of highs and lows and learned a lot along the way. I understand the importance of paying it forward, so I’ve compiled a list of 10 things I’ve learned as a self-published writer.
10 Things I’ve Learned As A Self Published Writer – And you should too!
1.) Be realistic in your expectations.
Right before the launch of my first book, I’d read the success stories of other self-published writers and thought, “Hey, that will be me!”
And don’t get me wrong, it will be!
But my expectations wanted me to have that success right out of the gate and because of those unrealistic expectations there were times when I was so busy looking at what successes hadn’t happened, I didn’t realize what had.
2.) Don’t swear off social media!
The older I get, the more private I am and the more ridiculous social media seems to me. Facebook feels like over sharing. Twitter feels like a bunch of rambling, and YouTube feels like pulling back the blinds and letting my entire neighborhood peep in. But despite that, writers have to be social. Even with how uncomfortable it makes me feel, I know that the only way I will reach the level of success I desire, I will have to step out of my comfort zone and find my audience on the Internet.
3.) Define what success means to you!
Listen… all of us would love to be world-renowned authors! But what if you couldn’t be? What if you could only be known by 15,000 or even 5,000 devoted readers? Would you be okay with that?
As writers, we will all define success differently. If we measure our success by someone else’s writing career, we are setting ourselves up for huge disappointment.
Define what success means to you. If it means being world-renowned, then work towards that. If it means that you have 10,000 of the most devoted readers then strive for that!
Don’t allow anyone to make you feel that your success is not enough!
4.) The amount of money you make as a writer is dependent on you!
My very first year as a writer, I purchased a table at a book festival. I hadn’t been sitting at my table twenty minutes when a veteran author walked up and said, “If you think you’re going to make a lot of money as a writer, you aren’t!”
Talk about a dream killer!
Was what she said realistic? Maybe. But her delivery bordered on dream killing.
I don’t think it’s a huge secret that writing just so happens to be one of those careers where you may work harder than the average bear and not be compensated in kind. But I also believe that we’ve been told this so much that we’ve begun to believe it without expecting more of our careers or ourselves.
What that “veteran author” didn’t know was that I had already done my homework and I knew that there was a lot of truth in what she said. And for that reason I had already created a plan that would allow me to make money in a few different ways while I grew my brand as a writer.
I will be the first to admit that she nor any other author that utters those words have any intention on killing your dreams. They are trying to prepare you for the business side of things. So I’ll just say this: again be realistic in your goals!
It’s important, especially in the beginning of your writing career to diversify your income while getting your writing career off the ground.
Suggested: How Do I Make Money As A Writer?
5.) You will become a better writer.
I am a perfectionist.
There I said it!
I will belabor over a word, a paragraph, a page, or a chapter until I literally hate it.
I will read. Reread. And reread again until I am disgusted with the idea of whatever I’m writing.
I have had this very bad habit since I developed a love for writing and I’m working very hard to correct it.
I want my words to be perfect. My thoughts to be eloquent.
I want my readers to say “Damn that was profound!” And because of that I wear edits into the ground.
Despite that, what I’ve learned is quite simple. The longer you write, the easier the writing will get.
One of the biggest challenges for me as a new writer was moving my characters from scene to scene. I would sometimes be stuck for months just trying to get a character from her bedroom to the living room. Lol.
But with my second book, it got easier and it will get easier for you too.
6.) The hard part is not the writing.
There’s this myth floating around that the hard part of writing is the writing.
Myth busted. The hard part of writing is the marketing. No matter how much difficulty you have writing the actual book, your biggest challenge will be finding your audience and convincing them to buy your book. I belong to many networking groups for writers and while there is always discussion about the actual writing itself, there are far more questions about marketing, getting exposure, publicity, etc. The frustration is rarely from the writing. The frustration comes in when the writer has spent two years perfecting a book, a cover, and a blurb only for it to be on Amazon for months and have only sold 10 copies.
Make yourself familiar with the marketing very early on. I promise you, it will save you a lot of heartache and tears.
Suggested: Book Marketing Ideas For The Author
7.) You will find your readers one person at a time.
I remember when I started my YouTube page. I had less than five subscribers to my channel. Yet I still had to take the same amount of time to come up with an idea for a video, shoot the video, edit the video and then market the video.
I would watch videos of other successful YouTubers and they all shared that they too had started off with just a few subscribers and then eventually those one here and two there started to add up.
Now I have over 700 subscribers and 47,000 views on my The Life Of A Writer channel.
Be grateful for your small community at first. Those will be the people that help to get the word out about your books.
8.) Measure where your readers come from.
You are doing yourself a huge disservice if you are not measuring where your readers are coming from and how they find you. Without this measurement you don’t know which marketing tactics are working for you and which ones are not. Use Google Analytics on your website or blog to determine where your traffic is coming from. If Facebook isn’t a huge traffic driver but Twitter is, maybe it’s time to switch gears.
Never stop reading! After all reading is what made you fall in love with writing to begin with.
10.) Keep writing!
And lastly, no matter what – keep writing! The success you’re trying to attain will never happen if you give up. If your first book’s sales are dismal, keep writing! Create a catalog for your audience to discover. Your day will come and when it does you want to be prepared.
What have you learned as a self-published author? Please share in the comment section below.