In 10 years of being published I’ve learned:
To get published again and again and again you need the same tools you acquired on your journey to getting published: Hope, passion, professionalism, adaptability, resilience, stamina, luck!
You will be affected by all the things you encountered on the way to getting published – only they may hit you even harder, or take you longer to work through. Second Album Syndrome is a thing. Imposter Syndrome is even more a thing and Comparison is, very definitely, the thief of joy!
The good news is that those tools you’ve acquired are going to help you keep coming up with new ideas for more books, help you hit those deadlines, help you deal with disappointing sales or bad reviews and help instil you with grace when people voice their misconceptions about your work!
In ten years of being published I’ve learned:
That being published and staying published means continuous learning/continuous development of both craft and business. Before you’re published you learn about the business of getting published. Things like (but not limited to):
How to finish writing a book.
How to write a good blurb, synopsis, tagline, elevator pitch etc.
How to be self-published, trad published, indie published, digital first, hybrid.
How to get an agent.
How to act on feedback.
After you’re published you learn about the publishing industry. These are some of the things I’ve had to learn/master/get my head around:
Voice/Writing style: how to develop/grow/write in different genres
Tech: using different publishing formats/website creation/meta data/creating content for marketing (your books) and branding (YOU and your books)
Socials – which ones are right for you? How can you fit socialising with your amazingly lovely readers alongside your writing/second job/third job/family responsibilities/work-life balance etc.
How to read contracts/understand things like world rights/foreign rights/film writes etc.
GRAMMAR (yes, for me #always)!
And, recently: HOW TO MAINTAIN CREATIVITY & PRODUCTIVITY DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC!
In ten years of being published I’ve learned:
That there are truly wonderful readers, authors, and publishers in this world! I’ve met so many supportive, gracious, inspiring, interesting, uplifting, and wise people 😊
I don’t often talk about this because I work very hard not to let it define me but while I was trying to get published, I was diagnosed as having a #ChiariMalformation with #Syringomyelia. I had papilloedemas pressing on my optic discs and needed neurosurgery to relieve intracranial pressure and protect my eyesight. Surgery for Chiari malformations helps alleviate some symptoms but not all of them and so…I don’t always feel super well!
Anyone living with a chronic condition learns about resilience and adaptability otherwise they don’t get to flourish in their ever-changing, sometimes-narrowing/limiting, and annoyingly-unpredictable new world! It was hard accepting that I couldn’t compete with writers being able to produce multiple books a year but while I may have limitations placed upon me physically, I’ve never (nor has anyone in the industry) ever placed limitations on my publishing dreams. Like I said, I’ve met some fabulous people who reinforced the importance of following your passions regardless of a condition. I’ve also been very lucky to have patient editors who’ve helped me laugh whenever my word-finding symptom has struck and I’ve inserted a completely wrong word (but sort of sounds like the right one and has the same number of syllables) in the middle of a sentence and haven’t even realised, no matter how many times I’ve proofread it beforehand!
In ten years of being published, I’ve learned:
You have to keep yourself open to creativity – it’s really important to refill the well. Burnout is a thing – a thing that hits you twice as hard when it affects what keeps you sane (your creativity) as well as your productivity.
You need to be open to trying new ways of writing. In ten years and with eleven books under my belt, only two of those books have “written themselves.” The others all required new approaches, new routines, new lucky socks!
You have to keep yourself open to constructive criticism from the professionals around you -- open to being wrong about a storyline or a particular scene or a plot-twist or writing in the first-person or the third-person. You even have to keep yourself open to be right, but it being the wrong time if the market is changing.
The great thing is that nothing is lost, nothing is wasted. If what you’ve written isn’t what people want to read, that doesn’t mean they’ll never want to.
I’ve had writing projects where the imprint I’m contracted to has changed its parameters and the book no longer fits its list.
I’ve had books where my editor has changed halfway through the editing process.
I’ve had ideas I’ve been completely in love with, rejected outright.
It’s hard, disappointing, upsetting…but it’s also business. There are so many parts of being published that you have no control over but the one thing you do control is writing word after word after word. And out of the setbacks and harder times have come amazing opportunities to write in different genres, using different writing styles, working with other authors on multi-author series and managing authors in multi-book series, which has been awesome.
Like any career, longevity is helped tremendously by learning and developing and honing your craft.
In 10 years of being published, I’ve learned:
My readers are everything!
I’ve had the most amazing messages from readers all over the world. Honestly, that people have taken the time to contact me or leave a review that says one of my books has touched them or I’ve written about an issue they can relate to, or they’ve shed a tear, or had a good giggle, or a bit of a swoon, is immense and I’m super grateful 😊
I’ve also learned that it’s important to celebrate the good stuff!
Beyond the rush of seeing cover art for a book, or seeing the copyright symbol next to my name, or my book hitting a list, I get to write my job title as “Author” on forms 😊
I’ve had proper pinch-me moments like having one of the highest-selling books on supermarket shelves and being shortlisted for Best Romantic Comedy of the Year with The Little Clock House on the Green.
I’ve had multiple books published.
I have another book coming out next year: The Life-Changing Magic of Falling in Love and can’t wait to share Ashleigh and George’s story with you.
And, lastly, here’s to the (hopefully) many books that follow that!