2015 has been quite the eventful year for me. I’ve published two books (with a third release imminent and a fourth in the editing stage), a short story (with a second due out in February) and have about 23049242 things in my WIP folder. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I signed that contract with Dreamspinner in January — but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
As a newbie author, I really had no idea what I was doing and sort of stumbled my way around this whole publishing thing. So far there have been no major disasters, so I’m going to call Avon Publishes Books: Year One a success.
That being said, I have learned a lot. Here are a few lessons learned by yours truly, Avon Gale, Newbie Author and Enthusiastic Chatterbox:
- I had no idea how much time and energy this whole publishing thing takes. Not writing, mind you. I already knew about that. But the social media stuff, the book promo stuff, all the editing and everything that goes into book production…whew! It’s a daunting task. Luckily I love people and talking to them, so the social stuff came pretty easy to me. Promo was a bit harder, and I’m still figuring that out. But hey, I have a newsletter! :D?
- No matter what you tell yourself ahead of time or how prepared you think you are for it, that first negative review is going to sting. Heck, they all might sting. But you know what — one of my absolute favorite experiences this year was talking to some established authors about how they deal with negative reviews. Hearing their stories and sharing my own made me feel less like a sad author alone on Mopey Island, and more like a part of the tribe. Obviously I knew ahead of time that people wouldn’t like my book, but as an author, I’m horrified at the idea that someone invested time and money into reading something I’ve written and then didn’t like it. I hate disappointing people! But that brings me to my next lesson learned…
- You can’t please everybody. I’m a people pleaser by nature and by profession (as a hair stylist, get your mind out of the gutter!), so I like making people happy. It is totally impossible to write a book that everyone enjoys. Some people will love your story and some people will hate it. Some will think it’s just okay. And you know what — that’s fine! Write the story you want to write, and let it speak to those who want to listen.
- I’m terrible at grammar. There was a time while in college/grad school that I studied four languages. And despite the funny way I say “antenna” and how I read the word “lunatic” in my head as lune-attic every goddamn time, I was fairly confident that I understood the rules of English grammar. And then comes Liz, my editor at Dreamspinner, and I realize that okay, yeah, no. Too many gerunds! Comma splices galore! Body parts moving autonomously! I’m so grateful to have an editor. SO. GRATEFUL.
- Having people talk about characters you made up is weird. Not bad! In fact, it’s actually pretty awesome. But it’s definitely weird. I have these people in my head and then suddenly, other people speak about them as if they’re real. They have thoughts and feelings about these characters, love them (and hate them) and everything in between. I’m not sure I can express how strange and wonderful of a thing this is.
- There may be no better feeling in the world than people telling you that they enjoyed your book. It makes all of the comma splices, negative reviews, and time spent figuring out Rafflecopter so worth it.
- I share my pen name with a racing horse. Who is, at it happens, for sale.
In addition to all of these important lessons, I was lucky to have an incredibly supportive group of family, friends, fellow authors and readers who helped me out so much this year. Not to mention a publisher that absolutely rocks, and a cover artist who is amaaaazing 😀 Thanks so much to everyone who picked up copies of my books, who took the time to send feedback/post reviews, to answer questions, offer to host me on their blog site, and talk me off a ledge when necessary. I’m truly blessed to have such an awesome support network, and to have added to that network this year with all the wonderful new people that this adventure has brought into my life. (I bet Liz would have a field day with that sentence 😐 ) I’m looking forward to meeting people, discovering new authors and making new friends in 2016. And subjecting everyone to more hockey boys in love, demons, rock stars, pleasure slaves, building contractors and an art thief or two. (That being the contents of my WIP folder in a nutshell).
I wish everyone a happy and joyful 2016, and may the Boston Bruins win the Stanley Cup! (Or just make the playoffs. At this point I’d settle for winning the Winter Classic.)