A First-Time Published Author’s Year-in-Review
November. One year ago my young adult contemporary science fiction, Butterfly Bones, was released to the world. It was one of the highlights of my life. I had worked toward the goal of becoming a traditionally published author, as well as revised and perfected my book, for five years. The rush that followed was a tidal wave of adrenaline and pure happiness. I had an amazing launch party at our local botanical gardens and butterfly house. A few days later I sat in Barnes & Noble for a book signing. The sky was the limit.
But then another book signing fell through—and then a date to speak with teens at a local school library was canceled. Nothing my fault. Just a conflict of schedules. My hopes weren’t crushed. I had many more opportunities to look into. But between my sixty-hour-a-week day job and the reality that due to state regulations I have to be in my classroom at all times, my opportunities dwindled—right along with my spirit.
That’s okay. I can move to social media. I can turn this around.
In came a wonderful publicist to help, hired by the press that signed me. The woman had wonderful, proven ideas: blog monthly; set up a newsletter for followers; interact on Face Book, Twitter, and Instagram; Look for any opportunities to swap blogs with other writers and do promotional giveaways; Enter my book into contests; Set up an Amazon author profile, as well as one on Goodreads; Interact with people on those sites; Create an author brand; The list went on and on.
At first I tried to do it all. I busted my butt as much as I possibly could, even having the publicist comment several times what a great job I was doing, but I couldn’t keep up with everything, and slowly, little by little, I gave up on everything. I was a failure. And with that failure came depression—the worst I’ve ever experienced in my life.
But that’s not the worst of it.
Not only do I work 60 hours a week, I also work part time as a copy editor and do the final edits on all books coming through the press, and I was writing my second book in the series. On top of that, I have a spouse who is in poor health and can’t be left alone for long periods of time. But that’s still not the worst of it.
In my drive to sell myself and my book, I became bitter and cold—pushing aside my husband, my children, and my beautiful grandchildren—all because I was “too busy.”
The depression settled even deeper. I found myself in a black hole, choking, sputtering for any semblance of a life—of happiness. I no longer liked who I was. Even my husband said I had changed.
And he was right.
At rock bottom, I determined the only way to find myself again was to step back from everything and reevaluate my life goals, separating the things of most value from those of least importance. It was during this process that I was slapped across the face with a “Ghandi” moment: I’m the hero of my own story. I determine my own happiness.
With this newfound outlook, I created a plot twist. I put my family where they need to be—first. I lessened the amount of copyediting jobs that I’m taking on each month, and I try not to feel guilty about turning down opportunities if they aren’t right for me and my family. I still have a long way to go with marketing myself, but I decided in order for me to move forward without becoming “overwhelmed” again, I’m going to take one thing at a time. And I’m not going to punish myself for what I can’t do.
The most important thing an author can do to sell more books, is write more books. So that’s my focus. The rest will fall into place.
So have I had a stellar year of book sales, and did I become a famous author? Not even close. But I did find myself along the road, tattered and beaten, and I pulled myself up, brushed myself off, and now I’m moving in the right direction. The journey might be slow, the path difficult, but it’s my journey—my story. Baby steps. And I’m totally fine with that. #writer #writerslife #sundayblog #amwriting #yalit