Author of Middle Grade novels about friendship, family, and figuring out where you fit in.

Monday, June 15, 2015

What I've Learned After a Year of Being Published

For months, I thought about what I'd write in this post. I can't even believe it's time to finally write it, since it's been a whole year since Wishing for Washington was released. But here it is.

What I've Learned After a Year of Being Published:

...

Um...

Well...

Okay, let me think for a minute. I know I've gained some wisdom from this journey so far. I developed thicker skin for critiques and reviews, improved my formatting skills, gained public speaking experience, and really got acquainted with the worlds of Kindle and CreateSpace. So, why won't I expand on all that? Why can't I bring myself to write a list, or at least several paragraphs, about the things I've learned?

Because that's not what I'm feeling right now. This is the truth:

What I've learned after a year of being published... is that I'm still learning.

I want to be that wise old sage that's like, "Don't worry, darlings. I know all there is to know about self-publishing. I'm an expert. Just follow me." While I do offer to share my knowledge and walk others through the self-pub process, I'm not an expert. Not even close.

I'm still learning how to market my books.

I'm still learning how to use my time efficiently, between editing one book and drafting another, promoting the ones I have released, and doing all the less exciting business stuff in between.

I'm still learning how to properly incorporate images in my books without messing up the entire project. (*Glares at a collection of failed versions of One Hundred Thirty Stars*)

But sure, I have learned a lot. And I do want to make a post later on, sharing the few pieces of advice that I do have. But I also promised myself that I'd be honest about my writing journey, and while I love it and feel extremely lucky to have this job, I'm not the best at it. Even a year in, I'm still a newbie.

I'm thrilled to continue learning, though, and I truly feel that it will only get better from here.

What have you learned from where you are in your journey?

14 comments:

Tiana Smith said...

I like your honesty :) It helps me feel better since I feel like I'm constantly learning and I'm not even published yet!

Tyrean Martinson said...

I appreciate your honesty. I feel much the same way, and I've been at it for over two years now. I wish . . . well, I wish I could give you the most awesome encouragement and advice ever, but I haven't found it yet. I think you're on the right track, and I know that your writing is excellent.

Jemi Fraser said...

I don't know if there is such a thing as an expert anymore! :)
I've learned so much over the past few years - and I haven't gotten to the published point! There's always so much more out there - and that makes it exciting!!!

Laurel Garver said...

It will be three years for me in September, and I still feel like such a newbie in some areas. Twitter is the only thing I think I'm getting better at. And coming up with new project ideas.

Each book I've done had unique challenges, so I guess I've learned to be patient with the process. As Jemi said, if everything came easily, it would be boring.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

It's impossible to know it all after a year. My first book came out in 2007 and I'm still learning too.

Medeia Sharif said...

I've wasted both time and money on doing different marketing things, and I'm okay with that since I know what works and what doesn't, and I'm still learning new things about that. I've also learned so much about writing and publishing with each book and working with critique partners and editors.

Shelley Sly said...

Tiana - I think there's so much to learn at every stage! I learned a lot before publishing, and I'm still learning now.

Tyrean - Thank you! All I can do is be honest. As long as I know where I am right now and know where I'm aiming for, I should be on the right track.

Jemi - I do love the excitement of constantly learning new things! I know I won't ever reach a point where I know everything there is to know.

Laurel - Good point! Patience is a must-have, and at least we're never bored with what we do. We're always getting better.

Karen - I guess that's what this job is about! I'd hoped to know more at this point, but I'm accepting the fact that there will always be something about the writing world that I still don't know or understand.

Medeia - That's very true about learning what works and what doesn't. I've done that, too. It's good that we try new things and learn from others!

Stephanie Faris said...

I can tell you one thing I've done that seems to have worked. About a month before my book came out, I sent postcards to every bookstore, library, and school library in the area. I also sent bookmarks to many of the school libraries, especially in my hometown. Every time I meet a kid from around this area, they know about my book. Either they saw my bookmark or they read the book because it was in their school library. That's the one thing I did... I did events, but those sold just a few books. Most events are about networking with the librarians and bookstore owners, who then push your book from that point forward.

Shelley Sly said...

Stephanie - Postcards and bookmarks are a good idea! (I did bookmarks in my old community, but now I live across the country and have to start over.) Thanks for sharing!

Heather R. Holden said...

I feel like I'm constantly learning, too. There never seems to be enough hours in the day to truly be an expert at anything, LOL.

Cherie Reich said...

I think your "I'm still learning" is so true. We're all still learning, no matter how long we've been in this business, and that's a good thing.

Peaches D. Ledwidge said...

I learned that writing and self-publishing require commitment, a lot of time to market and more. And I still don't know a lot.

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