So…you want to be a writer.
First of all, my condolences. It’s not an easy path to follow, this writing thing. It zigs and zags; it takes you over rocky ground you don’t particularly want to traverse; and it often leads you astray (you start off blithely writing one thing and somehow, it morphs into something completely different by the time you finish). Rainbows and unicorns, it’s not.
There are decisions to be made, as well. Will you publish independently or traditionally? Will you try to get an agent or go it alone? Will you plot out your books to the last detail, or write by the seat of your pants? The good thing is, there is no right or wrong answer. There’s only what’s right for you.
I decided to take the traditional route to publication first. If it didn’t work out, I reasoned, I could always self-publish. Why did I choose traditional publishing over going indie? Because I didn’t have time to edit the book/design a book cover/create a social media brand/blog/and market myself and my book(s).
Ironically, though – while I secured a great agent who eventually landed me a three-book contract – I still ended up doing most of the things listed above. I was assigned an excellent editor who did a great job of improving my manuscripts (love you, Helen!), but when she was done, it was my job to implement those changes. And add scenes. And delete stuff…and all of it had to be done as quickly as possible to meet tight scheduling deadlines.
In the meantime, I still had to build my brand on Twitter and Facebook and Goodreads; I still had to promote my book through blog tours, giveaways, and radio interviews; and I still had to post the occasional blog on my self-hosted website.
Oh, and I did all of it while holding down a full-time job. (I still do. Work, that is. Haven’t quit the day job yet,)
But somehow, despite a day or two when I came *this* close to having a bona-fide nervous breakdown, it all got done. The structural revisions and edits were made, the covers designed, the blurbs written, and the books promoted. Then came the thing I’d dreaded the most – reader feedback.
Let me just say that reading your very first not-so-good review is not fun. First, it hurts. And then it makes you really, really mad. After two days of ranting, fuming, muttering curses, and venting my spleen, I got over it. A Zen sort of calm settled over me. I dusted off my hands, took a deep breath, and read the other reviews. And, miracle of miracles, they were mostly all…good! Great, even. Reading your very first fan letter or your very first five-star review is – well, it’s like nothing else. It makes all of the difficult stuff worthwhile.
Is being a writer easy? No. You face criticism on a daily basis. You do a lot of waiting. You give up things like watching the latest episode of ‘Orange is the New Black’ or ‘Game of Thrones’ because you’re hunched over your laptop, agonizing over a plot hitch or ensuring your heroine’s hair didn’t change from blond to red halfway through the book or that you spelled ‘schadenfreude’ correctly. You give up time with your husband, your family, and your friends.
Would I do it all again, you ask? In a snap.
Because despite the work and the time (and the occasional snarky review), when the words are flowing and your fingers are flying over the keyboard, writing is its own reward. There’s nothing so satisfying as typing ‘The End,’ knowing that you’ve given your all to create a (hopefully) page-turning story.
And when a reader tells me my story made her laugh or helped her through a bad time, it makes me very glad I decided to become a writer.