1. Turning in the Manuscript is Only the Beginning
Dude. Publishing is not for the faint of heart. I was totally naive when I started on my publishing journey six years ago. I thought that once I turned the book into my publisher, I would do some edits and I’m done. Nope. Not even close. Marketing. PR. Social media. The list goes on. When I asked my author friends what surprised them the most about being published, it was the inordinate amount of time that’s invested in the business of writing.
2. Social Media Can Be Your Undoing
Marketing and social media can become a complete time suck. It’s kind of like being abducted by aliens. You go online to post one or two items and before you know it three hours have gone by and you haven’t written a word in your manuscript.
3. Publish More or Perish
I took a poll last year and over 55% of romance readers said they read between 100-150 books per year. The market is flooded, which is great for readers but not for authors. It’s harder than ever to rise above the noise. The pressure for writers to keep a frenzied pace and produce several books each year is brutal. Some friends of mine publish seven to ten titles annually. Kudos to them. I am in awe. However, I am not one of those writers. The pressure is real, folks. Before the end of release day for my first novel, I had readers emailing me and asking about book two.
4. Wait. What?
I had busted my butt to get that first book out there, along with efforts from my amazing publisher, and before release day was over they wanted another book? I was blindsided by how quickly readers craved more. I tried to keep up but soon realized that I simply couldn’t pump out four or five books a year. I won’t lie to you, there are times when this personal limitation makes me feel inadequate. The fear is that with only two or three books a year, I’ll slip into oblivion. I want to remain relevant but I also want to remain sane and spend time with my family.
5. Make It Rain?
When I signed my first book contract, I had dreams of hitting it big. But the cold hard truth is that it’s rare to make a decent living as a novelist/artist/actor/musician/insert-artistic-career here. When people hear that I’ve got a few book contracts, you can almost see the dollar bill signs flip in their eyes. It is one of many misconceptions about this industry. I’m traditionally published and receive royalty checks twice a year. (Which I’m lucky to get, by the way.) However, it’s not steady income. My royalties fluctuate depending on how many titles I published that year, number of units sold, price per unit, book clubs, ebook sales, etc. It’s the nature of the beast.
6. There is No Wizard
I love my publishing house. The whole crew rocks and they work their butts off. Before I signed my first contract, I really thought that the big publishing houses had all of the answers. They don’t. As my friend and author Heidi Cullinan says, There is no wizard! Nobody in this industry is all-knowing. But that’s okay. Publishing a book is a true team effort. Authors. Editors. Graphic designers. Publicists. Readers. For me, it’s the collaborative spirit that makes this business magical.
7. It’s About the Passion not the Paycheck
“If you’re not making lots of money from writing books, then why keep doing it?”
About eight years ago I was drowning in my life. I was overwhelmed with my day job, the kids, and all the responsibilities that came with them. I’m sure there are moms out there who can relate. I began writing my first book because I needed a creative outlet. Writing became my saving grace.
However, over the past year, I lost sight of why I was doing all of this in the first place. I had fallen into the trap that lots of authors get caught up in. I became obsessed with the “business of writing”, instead of the writing.
I would perseverate on questions like, Why wasn’t I selling more books? What was I doing wrong? New covers? Different genre? Facebook ads. Twitter. Instagram. Pinterest. Reader parties. Conventions. I lost countless hours of sleep, wasted time and spun my wheels trying to solve the enigma that is the publishing industry. My productivity went into the crapper and so did my confidence.
Why was I doing this?
I don’t write books, build worlds, and create characters because of the cash I may or may not make. I write because it feeds my soul.
Hell, I would love it if my novels fed my bank account as abundantly as they do my spirit. No lie, dude. That would be awesome. They don’t but I keep writing because I love it.
There are two reasons I’ll always want to be a part of this community—the readers and my fellow writers. These women, although there are some dudes, (Damon Suede, I’m looking at you.) are among the most supportive, friendly, encouraging, smart, funny people I’ve had the pleasure to meet. The moment I stepped foot into my first RWA (Romance Writers of America) conference, I knew that I’d found my tribe.
On those days when I’m sitting alone at my computer, with only my farting dogs to talk to, and I’m convinced my books sucks monkey-butt, and everything I type seems like ca-ca, I know they are there. They get it because they too have been in that dark place at one time or another.
I will be forever grateful for the passionate rockstars of the romance community.
It’s not only other writers. Romance readers are amazing die-hard fans and an integral part of our community. I know I said that social media can be a time suck and it can be. But there is an upside to using Facebook. It allows us to connect with our readers and I appreciate every single one of them.
Writing may be a solitary craft but it doesn’t have to be a lonely one.
So, for now, I’m putting aside the bulk of my marketing efforts. I’ll keep chatting with my readers and fellow writers, because they’re awesome but the biz stuff is taking a backseat. I’m simply going to write what I love and tell the stories. I will no longer allow the business of writing to overshadow my passion for it.
Back to the manuscript…
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