5 things I Wish I Knew
by SM Boyce
Hi everyone! I’m S. M. Boyce, raging nerd and author of the bestselling Grimoire Saga. I often answer questions from aspiring authors on Twitter and via email, so I wanted to share the 5 things I wish I’d known before becoming a published author. Fellow authors, I would also love for you to share your list in the comments, even if it’s just a point or two.
#5—Don’t read reviews
There’s no way on Earth an author will satisfy every reader out there. It’s just not possible. And sometimes, readers who are not in your target audience will read your book, hate it, and tell the world. You can’t learn from reviews like that, and bad reviews hurt even authors with the thickest of skin.
On the flip side, I do like to read positive reviews. I also read through well-written critical reviews to see if there’s a consistently reported error in my work. I can learn from that.
#4—“No” is an acceptable answer
It’s easy to get lost in my to-do list, and that often means I over-commit and forget I’m only human. We authors have to take care of ourselves, especially since many of us are balancing full time jobs or family on top of our career. It can seem impossible to balance everything.
So it’s absolutely okay to say “no” if you can’t do something. It’s worse to over-commit and disappoint people. Know your limits and stick to them. And if you do overcommit? Call yourself out, admit fault, correct the problem, and don’t do it again.
#3—Marketing is mostly liquor and guessing
Well, perhaps there’s not that much liquor involved, but your marketing plan will change on a regular basis. Most authors have to do their own marketing, whether they’ve gone with a publishing house or gone indie, and marketing is a tough job. It’s hard to know what to do next or how to stay ahead of the curve.
The secret is to build a solid network of awesome people and for the author to be willing to experiment—and therefore fail. Authors have to try a lot of different techniques and avenues to find what works for them and their target market. It’s definitely not easy.
#2— Establish expectations
I didn’t know until recently that there are two popular camps within authors: those who expect an even exchange and those who just support who they like. Those who expect an even exchange only want to give attention to those who will also support them; alternatively, someone who supports who they love does so without the expectation of being reimbursed.
Sometimes, one author from each camp will exchange with each other and make assumptions about what the other is going to do. And when that happens—namely, when each fails to live up to the assumptions of the other—friendships explode and drama ensues.
My suggestion (and lesson learned) is to always ask what others expect when they ask for a favor—or when you ask for one. If someone reviews your book and asks you to review theirs, ask what they want you to do if you don’t like it. Also ask when they want you to get back to them. Just be clear in your communications.
Authors typically write because they love writing. If you lose sight of why you’re doing this, the stress and strain of a very difficult career can suck all the pleasure out of your passion.
So stay focused on why you write, and keep in mind what success means to you—success has a different meaning for everyone. As long as you strive toward that goal and meet it, you are an absolute success.
What about you?
Authors, what do you know now that you wish you’d known before you published or queried an agent? Do you know of anyone with a horror story or who absolutely did it right?
Genre – Fantasy
Rating – PG13
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