I don't know what's up, but lately I've seen a barrage of blog posts on LinkedIn and Facebook about the horrible aspects of being an author. While some of them are true, I find the posts oddly disturbing. Why focus on the negative? How is that inspiring anyone? Yes, I like to vent, too. It's easy to start bitching about trolls who want to take you down or corrupt publishers who aren't paying their authors--but it's too easy and, at the end of the day, all it does is feed the fuel of doubt. So, to counteract some of that negativity, I'm going to share this list of 15 positive things I've learned as a published author and professional editor over the past decade.
- There are more good people than bad. Sure, there may be a few rotten eggs in the mix, but, for the most part, fellow authors genuinely want to help support each other. Find a good, positive group of fellow author who have your back, who eagerly offer to cross-promote, who are quick to say "good job", and you will have a quality peer group to help navigate the publising world. Creative people have a brilliant vibe to them. Embrace it. And, if you come across a few of those rotten eggs, disengage immediately. There are too many good people out there to put up with any of the negative.
- The more books you have, the better off you will be, so keep writing. If you have published only one book and are frustrated with sales, don't be. Write another. And another. Your best sales tools are a new release and a strong backlist. One hit wonders are as rare as wild flamingos in Alaska.
- Diversify your revenue streams. Yes, Kindle Select is easy. Yes, people used to make a lot of money by being exclusive to Amazon, and some still are, but their latest shift in income distribution equals less than a cent per page read. Value your work. Upload to other sites like iTunes, IndieBound, All Romance, Google Play, All Romance eBooks, Kobo, etc. Some of these other sites actually pay a higher royalty to the author than Amazon does. In Canada, Kobo sells more books than Amazon. There are many, many options for authors. The world is expanding at a rapid pace, don't get left behind. The possibiliteis are endless!
- Self-publishing is now the wise choice, not the last resort. I started off as a published author. I did things the "right way", followed the rules, snubbed self-publishing as the land of the lost--now I prefer it. Why? Because I make more money and do the same amount of work. My publisher did make it easy in some ways--they provided the editor and the cover artist, that's true. But all the marketing rested on my shoulders and I earn less per book through them than I do on my self-published work.
- Quality editing is not out of reach or out of budget for the Indie author. With all the publishing houses that have gone under in the past few years, there are many professional editors who are now freelancing. Yes, you may have to dole out some cash for them, but it's worth the investment. Just be sure you're not getting some kid with an English degree who is cheap but doesn't know a thing about dealing with real world issues like market demand and how to work with writers. Experience matters. It really does. Quality is within your reach--the same freelance editor who may be working with you may also be freelancing with a publishing house as well.
- You can sell books and make a living as an author. I'm so tired of hearing people whining that only big names can sell books and blah blah blah. That is not true. It's a lie perpetuated by the frustrated. I know many authors who are making money from their books. It's possible with a lot of hard work and perseverance. Tune out those whiney naysayers.
- You can get a film deal. Producers are always scanning books for their next project. Whether they are on Goodreads or Amazon or iTunes--and they are avid readers thinking "next big thing." You never know when you could get your break. It's within reach. I know two people right now who have had their books optioned--legitimately. And guess what? Both are self-published authors.
- The writing lifestyle is worth a few sacrifices. FREEDOM! No, there is no steady paycheck and sometimes it may feel like you're flying by the seat of your pants, but if you wanted an ordinary life, you would never have chosen to be a writer. Risk is part of the job--and flexibility to live your life is the payoff.
- You have all the power to succeed at your fingertips. In this digital age, you have the power to learn everything a publishing house knows and to become a marketing guru all on your own. It takes time on your part to learn these things, that's true, but there is no excuse not to become an expert when the knowlege is out there. I take a webclass a week on something new. It's amazing what's available and it usually only costs me 90 minutes of my time. There is no excuse to be uninformed or to feel powerless as a solopreneur. There are so many resources available--usually for free.
- So many choices, and it's all up to you. As I mentioned earlier, publishing houses have fallen in the past few years and self-publishing has lost some of its stigma. Traditionally published authors are self-publishing now and authors who have been screwed over by some publishers have simply vowed "never again." More than that, though, there are more and more places that need writers. Big companies now have blogs and guess what? They need writers. Small businesses need websites--and they need writers. Supplement your books with writing anywhere and everywhere you can! The possibilities are endless. If you're set on being a "published" author rather than self-pubbed, for every big house that falls, a small one appears in its place. It's a dynamic and exciting time to be a writer--you simply need to be open to all the possibilities and realize that you hold the power to choose your path. Nothing can stop you except yourself.
- You're living your dream--and that takes some serious courage. Never discount the fact that you are a brave individual who had the discipline to write a full-length book--maybe multiple times--and put yourself on the world stage. That takes some balls! So many people like to say that they have an idea for a book or a blog or an article--but they fear rejection or public opinion too much to ever actually stand there in the spotlight. Writers are courageous. Sure, people love to tell you about their ideas or perhaps even try to diminish your accomplishments, but you need to stand firm in your courage--even if you are silent--and know that you are a warrior who dared step foot in the world arena, alone and vulnerable, there you stood. Fuck, yeah, you are amazing!
- Writers have a license to be weird. It comes with the territory. Once you are a published writer, it's socially acceptable to let your freak flag fly so go ahead and don't hold back. Celebrate your creativity every moment of every day.
- There's nothing more satisfying than holding a paperback of your novel in your hands. This never gets old. Seeing your name on the spine of a book is immensely satisfying. You created that! Every word. Yours. Wow. That is very cool. And, if you're a freelance writer, the same thing can be said when you hold a magazine in your hands--a tangible thing with your name on the byline for the world to see--even if it is your thousandth article, it's always a rush.
- Fans. Yeah, when I started getting fans on my author Facebook page, I hoped to hit 100. Then suddenly it was 1000, then 6000...and I started thinking, 'oh, my god, strangers are actually liking my author page'...which I understand is the point, but it was a surreal feeling. Now I have people from all over the world who email me and interact on my fan page and it is still like, 'this is so incredible!' It is incredible. Just think about it for a minute--all that work, all those hours spent alone with your story--then it's published which is already an awesome feeling, then eventually you have fans! When my first book published, I thought it would be cool if even 1 person read it, let alone thousands. Yeah, it's very cool to have fans. How many of your non-writer friends can say they have fans?
- Speaking of fans, readers love authors. Why does that get its own bullet point? Because too many authors don't embrace things like book signings, email lists, newsletters, or readers' groups. Instead, they cling to writers' groups and put up walls between themselves and the public. Don't do that. Readers are a writer's best friend--be available, accessible, and authentic. Have fun! You're a writer! Embrace the perks of being one.
Amber Lea Easton
Amber Lea Easton is a multi-published author of nonfiction, thrillers, and romantic suspense. A professional editor and freelance journalist for nearly two decades, she created Mountain Moxie Publishing Services to assist authors in mastering the writing craft. Her memoir, Free Fall, is dedicated to spreading suicide awareness, has topped international best selling charts, and has been named by Dr. Prem as fourth on the "Ten Most Inspiring True Stories Everyone Must Read" list. Easton is also a speaker regarding parenting through trauma and suicide awareness. To discover more about Mountain Moxie Publishing Services, please go to http://bit.ly/MountainMoxieCreative