How many mistakes have I made on my journey to becoming a published author?
Hmm, there are too many to name, but I will start with a few lingering ones that will hopefully help someone else when they are looking to get published.
My first mistake was FEAR!
I was afraid of trying to get published. I was scared to let others read my work. I feared I wasn’t good enough. When it came to self-publishing, I was apprehensive about spending money, of taking chances, of failing. I was intimidated by everything.
Confession: I am still afraid. It’s okay to be afraid, but if you allow fear to keep you from doing what you love, you will never do anything. Like the heroes we love to read about and watch, remember we don’t have to be fearless, in fact, people love to cheer for the underdog. Think Rocky! So, swallow your fears and do the scary thing anyway. Be the hero in your own story!
Let me start with FEAR ONE: Not good enough.
Well, this was and is true. I’m not as good as I’d like to be, but I am getting better. Practice makes perfect, or at least makes improvements. Like anything else we do, there are people who like my books and others who do not. That’s okay, it is important to remember that we cannot please everyone, and we should not try. The first person we have to please is ourselves. Do you love what you are doing? If you have a passion for it, whether it is writing, painting, or music, whatever it is, your love and joy will show in your effort.
Grammar mistakes are the bane of my writing! I’m working on relearning all the lessons Mrs. Simpson tried to teach me in high school English class. Thank goodness for all of the editing programs available online nowadays and for friends and family members who are great at proofreading and catching my mistakes.
I have talked with other writers and have been surprised to learn that many of my favorite writers say they doubt their work or their ability. They often fear they will not be as good with the next book. Fear is a very real thing and it can be crippling. I repeat, no matter if you are a writer or a dancer, an artist or a musician, when you put your talent out there for others to critique, it is scary. Some will love you and others will not. The person you have to convince is yourself. Believe in your talent. Fall in love with what you are doing. Let your joy shine through your work and others will feel it too.
#2: Fear of failing. Has anyone in history ever done anything without fear of failure? Failure is a very real part of life. The truth is sometimes you are going to fail but the only sure-fire way to not fail is to not do anything and that in itself is failure. I have never attempted anything important without fear of failure from going out for cheerleading, attending to college, to parenthood and getting married, to writing and publishing. If it means something to you, then yes, there is going to be fear. If you are not at least a little afraid then you’re not risking enough. With great success come great risks. You cannot win if you are not willing to put it all on the line. This is true whether you are talking relationships, athletics or art, if you don’t put your whole heart into it, you will not reap the rewards. When the risks are greater, the success is sweeter.
#3: Afraid of taking chances and spending money. I’m sure there are other authors, perhaps even other creatives, who feel the same way I do… afraid to spend money especially before you start really making money. I’ve always been conservative. While uploading to Kindle Direct Publishing is free, there are other costs that a self-published author has to take on themselves. I was talking to my youngest daughter-in-law recently, I’ve mentioned that she is a photographer, like me, she worries about spending money for her craft/business. We know that there are somethings that we have to put the money into, for a photographer it’s the camera, lens, perhaps some classes. For a writer, it’s a computer, maybe editing, cover design, marketing, and classes. I recently broke down and invested in a class I’ve wanted to take for a couple of years. It’s scary to invest the money not knowing if it will be worth it but as my daddy used to say, “Scared money don’t make money.” Sometimes you have to conquer your fears and take a chance on yourself.
What I’m trying to tell you is what I’m telling myself, believe in yourself and take a chance. Don’t let your fears keep you from making your dreams come true.