Oh, buddy, it’s been a while since I wrote one of these “Sh!t I Learned Today” posts. Like, um, hi. My name is Meg Collett. This is my website. I write books and apparently, now, I write blog posts again. wtf
But really, I started this little blog series as a way to help share things I’m learning. I am by NO means an expert and this is by NO means an advice-sharing, come-forth-and-hear-my-knowledge blog. I’m always skeptical of authors who do that unless they’re very obviously doing exceptionally well and clearly have the advice to give.
I am not one of those authors.
I bumble about and occasionally brush up against something that vaguely smells like success. Or that could just be because I took a shower.
Anyway, I do want to start posting regularly to this series again. I still get emails occasionally from people who have stumbled across posts from years ago that probably have no merit still being live on this website. But I do want to help other authors, even if that help is just waving a neon red flag that says, “do better than I did with this.”
Which is what this post is.
Do better than I did.
2018 was a rough year for me. I’m not going into all of it here because I’ve said it all before and 2019 is about manifesting new and better for myself, not dwelling on the past. But I will say that my creativity took a hit. A big one. As in, I released one book last year under Meg Collett. I released some under a pen name, but I don’t really count those (even though they were insanely fun and totally worth it) because they weren’t actively working toward building my Meg Collett career/brand. Excuses to not work or write became a daily rhetoric until eventually, the excuses became my narrative.
I’m too sad to write today. I’m too depressed. The anxiety is too bad. Just thinking of sitting down and typing out the words fills me with dread. I am not enough today. I am too much today. I just need to lay here and eat and stress about not working because that is better than actually doing the work.
It was an endless diatribe of useless bullshit. But but BUT BUT … anxiety and depression are real and important and not not NOT bullshit. There are times when everyone needs to take a day, week, month off from that which is no longer serving them in healthy ways. But in my case, my anxiety became a crutch that I used long after I was fine. The brutal truth is that I should have been doing more.
And the career that I had worked so hard to establish since January 2014 just sort of … withered away.
The chances are high that you reading this (if there even is anyone reading this?) are a new author. Fresh out of the gates and blazing with passion that keeps you up late at night working like a fiend. That’s great. Hold onto that. Because it does not last.
It. Does. Not. Last.
First Tip: Set up your release schedule is a way that perhaps feels slow now (a book every three months or three books a year or two a year) but is a schedule that is sustainable when this newness fades away.
Don’t do what I did: Releasing steadily in genres all over the place, in series all over the place, and then releasing not at all. Because when you try to get back out there, fix your career and move on, it’s like starting all over.
I recently released a book and it’s doing well. And importantly: my readers love it. It’s the book I wanted to write, and maybe more importantly than everything else: I love it too. But it is slow going. I am clawing my way to even a semi-decent-but-not-really rank. And I spent a lot of money/am spending a lot of money to get there.
Not to mention it is hard as hell to stay positive. I’ve worked hard to start changing my mindset and negative self-talk to ones that build me up rather than tear me down.
Second Tip: You have to stay positive in this game. Because indie publishing is hard. It’s a beast completely unlike anything else. There will always be someone working harder than you, releasing faster than you, writing more words a day than you, etc. The self-doubt can never end if you allow yourself into that vortex of shittery. So stay focused on YOUR VERSION OF SUCCESS. Define that before you even release your first book, and if you have to, cling to that sucker. And get the hell off social media from time to time.
Third Tip: Your release schedule is not just for your planning and your money and your work schedule and you you you. It’s actually not about you at all. Your schedule–your consistent one–is a promise you’re making to readers. It’s saying, here’s this book and in two months there will be another one and the same in two more months and so on. It’s saying, I am here and if you like my books, I will continue to be here.
Indie publishing has too many authors and too many books. You are one among millions. Your readers have options. When they pick up one of your books, they’re entering into this agreement with you that you will be the author they can count on, who they will follow and support with their hard earned money, and that when they have a hundred other options to buy from, they will choose you because you are there for them, consistently.
This puts a lot of pressure on you, and it should.
Don’t do what I did: and crumble beneath that pressure when shit gets hard.
Look, tough love time. Anyone can publish a book now. It’s amazing. It’s great. But if you want to be the author who is still selling books in 2022 or 2030 or beyond, then you have to be more than just an author releasing a book on Amazon.
Fourth Tip: There are a lot of gurus out there telling you a million other things to do to make a successful career. And they’re right. You have to do those things too. But I argue that the MOST IMPORTANT thing to a successful career, besides just writing the next book, is being consistent (which as I type that, I realize kinda goes hand in hand with writing the next book, but write that next book and release it on schedule, you feel me?).
Final Tip: All these marketing things like newsletter swaps, pay per click ads, reverse harem trends will go away. Don’t build your career on shifting sand. Build it on fundamental principles of being a good ass human. Be there for your readers and they will be there for you. It’s harder and it’s slower but it’s lasting.
Don’t be like me, and just get lucky that you have amazing readers who stayed just because they love you when you finally get around to releasing another book.