Things I Wish I Knew When I Started Writing

Being an author has a pretty steep learning curve. There are a lot of lessons to learn, and thanks to hindsight, they seem obvious after the fact.

So, today, I wanted to share a few of those things with you to ease the learning process.

Regardless of your publishing path (traditional vs. self), you’ll have to do marketing.

When I started writing, I assumed that traditional publishers would do all the marketing. Then, I started querying and found that many publishers required marketing plans to be submitted along with the query. (One asked for a five year plan, even though most traditional publishers give a book a two year shelf life.)

So clearly, some of the marketing falls to the author. And if you’re self-publishing, it all falls to you.

(Btw, this marketing effort includes your author platform. More on that in a minute.)

Self-publishing is a valid publishing avenue (but it is exactly what you make it).

Treating self-publishing as a “trash bin” when you get frustrated with querying actually perpetuates the stigma of self-publishing.

Please, PLEASE, don’t do that.

Self-publishing is a viable publishing avenue, and it will treat you exactly as well as you treat it. If you do your research, if you put in the effort, you can produce a quality product that readers (and you) will love.

And if you work on your marketing and advertising, you can sell a decent amount of books.

Your author platform is vital.

It connects you with readers, often for little-to-no money. There are a lot of ways to build it, and a lot of different platforms you can work with.

Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, a website, a blog, Tumblr, Reddit, Snapchat, YouTube, TikTok, Goodreads, All Author, the list goes on and on. It seems like there are a million different social media options.

You don’t have to be on every platform. That’s way too much pressure, and you’ll be spreading yourself too thin.

Start with one or two that you’re comfortable with and build those. When you feel like you have a handle on that, branch onto another.

Post about what you’re reading and why you like it. Post about your projects and how you write or plot.

And be sure to start a newsletter. Send it out regularly (whether that’s every other month, monthly, weekly, whatever) and make sure your readers know when to expect it. You can get a bit more personal here, showing more behind the scenes stuff to engage readers.

The earlier you start your author platform, the better.

It takes time (a fuck ton of time) to build an author platform. The more (real, active) people you can count among your audience, the better your book release will be. And if you’re looking to go traditional, a good audience is a bragging point for your query or marketing plan.

Be you.

Who you are, your author voice, is what will make your books stand out. Make sure that comes through on whatever platforms you choose.

There’s a market for everything.

Please, stop worrying about whether anyone will like your idea. The world is vast and full of different types of people with different interests.

Even if your idea is a niche, there’s an audience out there for it. You just have to find them.

Chaos or organization, it doesn’t matter. Write the way that works for you.

Everyone is different. Everyone learns differently, and everyone communicates differently. So please, give yourself the freedom to write the way you need to, whether that means intensive planning or no planning at all.

Don’t pay publishers.

Publishers that charge you hundreds or thousands of dollars are scams. Plain and simple. Run far away from them.

Trust me.

I’ve dealt with them, and it’s fucking terrible.

Don’t pay reviewers.

Book reviewers might get a free book in exchange for an honest review if they’re an ARC reader or if they’re working with a book tour company. But if they message you saying that they’ll review and promote your book for a fee, don’t mess with them.

Even setting morals aside, a lot of sites will remove paid reviews, and that renders the money wasted. (I’m pretty sure Amazon is one of those.)


Want to help fund this blog and my writing efforts? You can support me directly here.

Check out my gritty, literary sci-fi and fantasy books here.

Subscribe for sneak peeks and updates on my upcoming books (and get a free short story).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.