This journey I’m on right now is fascinating. For many years I’ve wanted to be an author, but I’ve never really understood what that means or what it entails.
I THOUGHT I knew what it meant… but in becoming an author I’ve discovered how much I never knew or understood before. Here’s just five things I’ve learned in the six months or so since I signed my first book contract:
- Books are worth the cover price. I never knew how much work and effort goes into publishing a book – or how many people are involved. I’m sure there are many people involved in getting Web Hosting For Dummies onto the shelves, here are just a few that I know of: Amy, the acquisitions editor, Charlotte, Debbye and John, the publishing, copy and tech editors, the art department, the indexing service, the printers… and all of their bosses/managers. My personal contribution is something like 400 writing hours and I have no idea how many hundreds of hours all the other have spent… and they all need to be paid. We all want to be able to buy books for 99 cents, but they really, really are worth so much more than that!
- Professional editing is essential. If you’re writing a book and self-publishing it, get it professionally edited. Yes, it costs money and yes, it can be harsh having someone evaluate and correct your work but I have learned from experience that editors make books better. MUCH better.
- You can’t trust what you see online. Three days after my self-published book was released online, some second-hand bookstores started offering copies for sale, with differing descriptions of the amount of wear on them. At that point, I knew the exact location of every book of mine that had been printed and NONE of them were in the hands of a second-hand bookstore. If someone had attempted to buy my book from one of those people, they would have had to come to me to buy a copy first to be able to sell it to the buyer. Don’t believe what you see… I don’t any more!
- The waiting is the hardest part. I said this on Facebook the other day and some other authors agreed with me. You send out books for review or give copies away or do whatever promotional work you do…. and then you wait. And wait. And wait. It takes time for people to finish the books they already have stacked up beside their bed and get to yours and then it takes time for them to read it – and time again for them to write a review. You kind of expect the reviews and everything to come instantly… but you just have to wait. And wait. And wait. I hate waiting!
- People look at you differently when you’re an author. I get lots of light-hearted joking from my friends and family about me being a ‘famous’ author now and that’s expected, but what I didn’t expect is the new way other people look at me. Apparently, authors are still held in high regard and I’m constantly amazed at how people react when I tell them I’m an author – and how many doors it has opened for me. I’m still just me, I’m the same guy I was six months ago (I hope) but people treat me with more respect, more esteem than before. It’s weird…. and I’m trying not to let it go to my head!
Becoming an author is really changing my life – for the better, I hope. It is opening new opportunities for me and letting me see behind curtains I’ve never peered around before and while I love the new world I’m glimpsing because of it, it reminds me constantly of who I am, where I came from and how fleeting this ‘fame’ can be.
I truly hope that as I, as WE, continue this journey, I won’t try to grab for the fame and the limelight but will remember why I’m doing this: to help others learn and succeed.
Give me a kick if I ever forget that!