A few months ago I did a guest post on the fabulous Bunny Ears and Batwings Blog (Run by the SUPER awesome Alexis) and wanted to share that post with you here.
5 Things Every Aspiring Author Should NOT Be Afraid of.
1.) Don’t be afraid to shelf your work for a bit.
Sounds like a ‘Duh, really?!’ moment, but it’s true. Sometimes it’s easy to whip-out a 80-90K word count manuscript, edit while you go, and call it a day because OHMYGAWD IT’S SO BRILLS I CAN’T STAND IT, THIS IS THE BEST BOOK EVERRR, I NEED TO QUERY IT RIGHT NOW! AGENTS ARE GOING TO FIGHT TO THE LITERARY DEATH FOR IT. Ahem, sorry, I got carried away. For most of us, finishing our work is only the beginning. Really take the time to flesh out passive language. You’ll be amazed by how much you miss the first, second, and fiftieth time around. With my last book, I carefully tucked it away for a couple of EXCRUCIATING weeks and was
appalled amazed by how many “I begin to’s and I continue to’s” were still rearing their nasty little heads. Be brave and shelf that baby for fourteen days (at least). You can do it.
2.) Don’t be afraid to have other people read your work.
Really. It’s going to happen eventually. Especially if you’re serious about getting published. Having friends and family read over your work is a good start, BUT…make sure they are also reading widely in your genre (and beyond) and aren’t afraid to give you honest-to-goodness feedback. One of the best things I’ve ever done for myself was have others critique my manuscript and query letter. That said, it was also one of the scariest things I’ve done, but my work is SO MUCH BETTER for it. Again, be brave. If you want to dip your toe in the ‘sharing pool’ try sites like QueryTracker.net or AbsoluteWrite.com. Both offer forums where you can share your work and get some really, REALLY amazing insight as to what is/is not working with your query or first five pages.
3.) Don’t be afraid of social media.
Now don’t get me wrong, when I first started using twitter I was nervous/scared/intimidated. I didn’t know ANYONE. None of my friends were using it and how awkward is it following strangers? I used to think things like: Will that author/writer/blogger/random-awesome-person think I’m totally creepy for following/responding to them? Will anyone follow me back? What do I have to say that’s tweet worthy anyway? One day I finally asked myself, What do I have to lose? NOTHING. Somehow I developed a decent following and I didn’t do anything special. I talked about reading, writing, music, publishing, I retweeted articles I liked. Posted some silly pictures for fun. Shared quotes that inspired me. Pretty soon people were tweeting back. Conversations were started. Friendships made. The best advice for tackling social media is be honest, be yourself, and share what you like. You’ll find other people just like you. The world will become a little smaller and a little less scary.
4.) Don’t be afraid to fail.
One of my favorite quotes is: “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” — Winston Churchill. So your first attempt at traditional publishing/getting an agent/having a ka-jillion blog followers didn’t quite work out the way you wanted it to. Psst, I’ll let you in on a secret: That’s OKAY. My first book didn’t work out. Neither did my second. Or third. Would I call them failures? Heck NO! They were valuable learning experiences. Each one a stepping stone. Having your work rejected isn’t the most pleasant feeling in the world, but it’s really not the worst either. What is failure anyway? Nothing you do is a failure as long as you keep learning, keep growing and keep moving forward. The only failure there is, is giving up. So learn. Make mistakes. Make GINORMOUS ones. Make silly ones. Make OHMYGAWD I can’t believe I just did/sent/wrote that mistakes. Then laugh/shake/dust it off and get back out there. You’re going to inspire someone else, not by failing, but by fearlessly charging ahead IN SPITE of bumps in the road.
5.) Don’t be afraid of your success or other people’s success.
Everyone is going to have a different ‘road to publishing’ story. It’s really important to not get caught up in comparing your success to other people’s success and vice versa. If you’ve found representation after two weeks, sold your book in ten days, got a three or four book deal, don’t be afraid of sharing your journey. On the flip-side, if you’re still in the query trenches — do not take other people’s success as an attack on your writing skill. Everyone is different and there are SO MANY factors that go on behind the scenes you’ll drive yourself INSANE if you compare yourself to everyone else out there. You might take five years to land an agent, or a book deal. That’s okay! We’re all in this publishing game to share stories, so never be afraid to share yours. If you find representation quickly, you’ll give others hope that it can happen for them too. And, if you’ve written four, five, or even ten books and THEN receive an offer of representation, well, how can a journey like that NOT be inspiring to others?!