Thursday, September 24, 2015

Some objective advice for authors...

Being on social media is obviously bittersweet. We see a lot of good things, and also a lot of bad things. There are a few consistent complaints that I see, though. I'd like to address them from an objective perspective. I've been on both sides of the line, so I feel like I'm qualified to make these points.

First of all... To all those authors who complain about other authors "not being friendly" or "thinking they are too good for you." Let me just say you are making a very brazen snap judgement. I understand you may have had your feelings hurt one way or another--not getting the return message you wanted, not having an author share your work like you've been sharing theirs, or not being accepted into a signing event because you're not well known enough; the list can go on. But perhaps you need to go through some of the issues other authors have had to go through to get where they're at before you give these opinions.

Most authors have had to start as a nobody. We all spend countless hours writing and proofing and marketing and networking...on top of the rest of our lives that deal with families and other jobs. It's a process. It can take some time. I work my ass off. I care about the quality of everything I do. Some days I feel like I should be further than I am, and other days I just don't care and go my own pace. I'm where I'm at, I worked hard to get here, and I've never expected anyone to give me an easy ride. I've been shit on repeatedly, it's a given, but you take notes and move on. Bad mouthing another author for not doing a "share-for-a-share" is just ridiculous. I share what I can, give shout outs where necessary, and try to thank everyone who has taken the time to support me. It is impossible to return every single favor. IMPOSSIBLE. So with that in mind, maybe just pay it forward instead? In return, you'll be a recipient of someone's unexpected generosity later on. We're all in this together; we can pick up the slack for each other when we're able to. I'll admit that I used to share and support a few different authors consistently and don't anymore. It's for a few reasons, but I don't need to bad mouth them or point out how they are too busy to return the favor. So much gets lost in the chaos, and when your readership grows, these authors have a lot more to keep up with. Don't punish them for that. Most, if not all, are humble enough to appreciate everyone who supports them and they don't deliberately ignore you just to make you feel bad. No one has time for that. It's just a matter of balance, and sometimes it is just too overwhelming to spend six hours a day responding to everyone. I truly believe that you get back what you give. Maybe not instantly, but at some point you will be glad you supported your fellow authors instead of jealously tearing them down.

Another issue I'd like to address is your relationship with others within this industry. If you know me, you know how much I shout about integrity, honesty, and professional courtesy (if not, see my other blog entries). It is a fact you'll be screwed over now and then, but I advise you to keep that chin up and not stoop to that cutthroat level. Harmony in an industry you love is AMAZING. No, it will never be perfect. But the harder we work to polish our behavior and the way we deal with others, the more content we will be about our own results. I do not measure my success fiscally; I measure it by how comfortable I am with my actions and the people around me. A sales number validates me in some ways, but the way others regard me as a person is far more important to me. How we treat each other says a lot about our character. I try my best to be helpful when new authors ask for my advice. I've never ignored a single person who has come to me for my help. I don't know how useful I actually am in that aspect, but I'm willing to share what I know. I didn't know a single person in this industry when I published my first books. I didn't build a facebook page and gather friends in hopes they'll support my book when it releases. I didn't even have a facebook page when I published a few years ago. I taught myself how to publish, I taught myself how to format (omg that was horrendous) and I taught myself how to design my book covers. I didn't have a network of people to ask. I had to build that for myself a couple years later.

Those relationships are hard. It's difficult to find people you can trust but also work well with. My advice is to be choosy with whom you spend your time with. Find business friends who are honest because that is so essential in this industry. It truly is tough, though. You'll have to go through a lot of bullshit as you search for these people. You'll be hurt, you'll be deceived, and you'll question your own decisions. But remember that YOU have control over who you keep close  in the end. Listen to your instincts. People who are straightforward, sometimes telling you honest things you don't really want to hear, are the ones who are doing you a favor. You don't need your ass kissed, you need to be supported one hundred percent and that sometimes involves hearing the truth. I really dislike being honest sometimes when I'm asked my opinion, but I wouldn't be helping you at all if I just told you what you want to hear. Choose well-rounded business friends; ones you know want what is best for YOU. And if you're reaching out, asking authors for advice...don't take their kindness for granted. Unless an author gives you the go-ahead to contact them any time you want if you need help, be mindful of their time. Sometimes those authors who seem "unfriendly" have really just been taken advantage of so many times, they need to give themselves a break. When you are used or deceived by people, you tend to shy away and aren't as willing to open yourself up for others as much. I'm not saying this is true for all, but for many of us, we are juggling so many things right now we don't even know what those things are sometimes.

One last piece of advice for authors... Write what you want to write. Don't let fads and popular opinion sway your creativity. You know why? Because you want to be happy with what you've produced, and what better way to do that then to allow your individuality to be free. Fads come and go and they always will. Just watch the flux of book genres and topics and cover styles and you'll realize this. Don't jump on a bandwagon because most likely it's already too full. Hitch your own wagon and take your own ride YOUR way.

I have a lot of love for what I do. I'm sure I will always continue to write. As of now though, I've been taking a break. I got burnt out because of some individuals who I let dull my sparkle. It's not that I'm weak and can't take a beating, but sometimes too much is too much and stepping away is what you need. I'm recouping and regrouping. Sometimes it's necessary in order to come back stronger. I don't consider getting knocked down a failure, though. I consider it a stepping stone for learning. How I come back from it is what's important. That's how I measure character. People will hurt you, disappoint you, and deceive you, but how you deal with it says a lot about who you are. I forgive, no one is perfect, but I'll still be cautious. I love my readers who are now my friends. I'm always there for any of them. I focus on doing my best work so I can make myself happy, but I truly treasure their happiness too. When I get messages like some of the ones I've gotten about my books this year...messages that tell me how much I've impacted their life or how much they could relate to what I wrote...there is no better reward than that. One message or one thousand, it doesn't matter.

Thank you to those who maintain your high standards, even when it's hard. You'll be happy you did. Be accountable for yourself and your actions; you'll find it pays off better in the long run <3


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