Fiction,  Writing

Lessons I Learned Publishing My First Novel

I thought I knew so much when I pushed publish on my first novel, but whoo boy was I wrong!   Here are five lessons that I learned during the self-publishing process that I went through with my very first novel. 

Negative reviews will hurt

My advice – find someone you trust to read the reviews for you and give you only the things that will help make your books better.  Sometimes, people give amazing constructive criticism in their reviews, but more often than not they are just petty, mean, and downright frustrating so it’s best not to read them. This is harder than it sounds, I know, but trust me….they hurt and they linger in your self-consciousness, cropping up when you go to write your next book.

You will feel different, but not that different

Yes, being a published author and having someone buy your book off Amazon or Barnes & Nobles feels amazing!!  You will feel accomplished, proud, and high on life, but there will still be dishes in the sink, taxes to pay, and fights with your spouse or kids.  And there is still another book to write. Feel the highs and don’t let real life diminish that shine, but just know – real life grabs you faster than you would think or hope.

Your next book won’t be magically easier to write

This might be hard to hear, but it’s true. You will understand your process more with each book you write, you will understand the publishing process more as you do it, and you will feel more confident overall but the actual sitting down, hands on keys, words on paper won’t be any easier.  Sorry.  You’ll still have to put in the time, make the effort to schedule in writing sessions, and scramble through murky middles and terrible endings – or is that just me?

Some promos might make you feel icky

I followed a bunch of advice online and gave a ton of copies of my book away for free thinking it would help me build my newsletter list, but all it did was make me feel depleted, depressed, and icky.  Read up on different promos, different companies and websites, and really plan out your launch with purpose – thinking a little bit about how you would like to feel during the whole process.  It was more important than I realized.

Audience building is a big factor in sales

I’m not saying I won’t ever give my books away for free, but I think it’s better to have that audience before you launch.  I didn’t really have that as I started Instagram a bit too late, and didn’t really know best practices for things like content creation and engagement online.  It’s best to build your audience online first, nurture those readers, and then publish your book.   

Even though I had lessons to learn, and bumps along the path, I’m so thankful I stuck with self-publishing and am extremely proud to call myself an Indie Author.  We learn by doing, by trying and learning and fixing and then by doing and trying all over again.  

Don’t let the fact that you might not know everything right away stop you from following your path and living your dreams.

If you’re a published author, what lessons did you learn along the way? And if you haven’t published yet, what above is making you rethink some things now before you start? I would love to know.