One year ago today, I came out with my very first poetry collection. I didn’t really expect it to be well-received by the local book community especially since it was independently published. Four-to-five-star reviews came in from people who resonated with it. However, there were also some who left scathing one-star reviews.
As a first-time author, it honestly crushed the soul in me. There were nights I felt depressed about it. Nights where I contemplated whether it was really worth it putting my words out there. It was demoralizing, demotivating, and discouraging. Try as I might, I really can’t please everyone. But at least I owe it to them that they gave my book a chance.
In this post, I will tell you about what I learned as a newbie author and publisher, how I surpassed that “dark” stage in my writing career, and what I can give as pieces of advice when starting out.
1. If you’re going to write a book, you have to treat it as a product. Grow your author platform and do not depend on your publisher to do it for you. Envision a reader in your mind—you’re going to write a book for this particular reader or group of readers. Research about this group of readers—their demographics and psychographics. What motivates them to read your book? What will be their buying decisions? Can they afford to buy your product? How best to reach them?
2. Not everyone will like your work. You may have the most awesome idea on your book, but there will be some readers who will find it “bad,” “garbage,” or “shit.” And that’s fine actually. They are not your target reading market and it’s not their fault. Your book might not be their cup of tea.
3. If you’re going to write fiction, determine whether it’s a genre (commercial) or literary. Genre fiction appeals to wide audiences as it is plot-driven and fast-paced. Literary fiction appeals to a narrow audience. It is character-driven. The plot is expected to be very slow and the writing superfluous and highbrow. It is important to know what kind of writer you will be in the first place.
4. Be humble. Stay rooted. If you found your readers, connect and interact with them. Earn their trust. They will always come back.
5. Grow your connections. Attend writing workshops, book fairs, literary festivals, readings, etc. You might not know but the next one you meet might change your life forever.
6. You will always have a one-star review. Readers will always dissect every word you wrote, every argument you made, and every plot hole you committed. They may say that you have a “bad writing” and that your book is “one of the worst books they have ever read.” But hey, that’s fine, too. You are NOT a bad writer (unless it’s obvious lol). You will cry. You will think about it for days. You will think about it for some more. However, you will not be deterred. You will not think of the things that went wrong anymore. You will be okay. You will write more books.