1. You’ve got to have thick skin. No matter how many times you hear it and say to yourself “I’ve got this,” you don’t. You don’t go into publishing with thick skin. At least not in my experience. It’s something that toughens along the way. Sometimes it’s a rocky road to travel, but if we persevere, we get there. Eventually.
2. Taste is subjective. I knew this going in, but again, it was something that truly had to be learned along the way. And in stride with this point, another thing I learned was that subjectivity sells books. If reviews are to play any part in a customer’s choice to purchase, all five-star reviews doesn’t do the trick. You need a good spread among all the stars. That’s when a review sells a book.
3. A good cover goes a long way. I’ve always liked a good cover and before I published my first book, covers were what got me to pick up the novel. But the numbers of times I’ve heard people tell me they read Exiled just because of the cover really cemented this into my brain. Good covers are…GOOD!
4. Nothing is a sure thing. Since I first published my book, there have been a lot of ups and downs. When a literary agent tells you they want to help you succeed and they’re excited at the prospect of working with you, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll hear from them again. When an agent schedules a phone call with you, that doesn’t mean they’ll call. When a reader tells you they loved your book, that doesn’t mean they’re going to leave a positive review. If you have a few big sales months, it doesn’t mean it will last. Yes, what goes up really does come down. And no matter what is selling in the market, writing that story doesn’t mean you’ll see success. There are so many different aspects to what makes a book successful, but sometimes what we really need is a little luck. And an incredibly loyal and wicked fan base.
5. Authors are amazing people. I’ve experience some not-so-friendly ones, of course. One’s that think you’re their competition. They don’t realize a book only lasts a reader a few hours to a few days, after that they’re on to something new. Another author in your genre is not your competition, they’re your ally. And I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some pretty incredible allies in this crazy world of books! They’ve offered support, opinions, and you can always count on them to make you smile. It bears repeating: authors are amazing people.
6. Having readers is the most surreal feeling in the world. Knowing that there are people out there actually waiting for the next book in my series is a mind-blowing idea. I’m coming up on my two-year anniversary of publishing Exiled and I still haven’t wrapped my head around it. It makes me smile, and to be honest, a little giddy. Getting e-mails from readers who love my book(s) never gets old, and I grow more appreciative of the supportive readers I have every single day. Seriously, I love you guys.
7. It’s harder to write “The End” than you can possibly imagine. At the end of Exiled, I was excited, and the same goes with Shift and Release. But for Endure, writing those words really hit home for me. This series is going to be done? That’s unbelievable to me. The Protector has taken up four years of my life, and I’ve loved it. How can this be over? How can I move on to new things? Sure, I have new stories planned and I’m excited for them, but this will always be my first, and like most firsts, that’s pretty damn special. After writing those words and knowing this series is coming to a close, The End will never mean the same thing to me again in any book I ever write.
8. Every word you read and write makes you a better writer. The writing in Endure far surpasses anything I could’ve managed with Exiled or even Shift. I’ve learned so much over the course of four books, not just from working with professional editors and writing more, but from reviews, reader feedback, and looking at books I read with new perspective. When they say “read as much as you can, it helps you become a better writer,” they really mean it. That was a fact I denied over and over again for years, and now I finally get it. Apparently, on occasion, I can be stubborn. Who knew?
9. My writing method changes each time I start a new story. It’s never the same and in fact, it’s enough to drive me crazy. With Exiled I had to write with music and I didn’t use an outline. With Shift, I used an outline, followed it closely for the most part, and always had music. With Release, I could never write with music and although I had an outline, after I wrote it I hardly looked at it. It isn’t even the same book I plotted out at the start. And with Endure, again, no music, but this time I couldn’t even manage an outline. Go figure. So when people ask what my method is, it’s impossible to answer. It seems to me like each story—even when a part of the same series—requires a different approach. I just have to start writing and figure it out along the way.
10. Dreams do come true. Thirteen months after publishing Exiled, I quit my job to become a full-time writer. It’s true I did it more abruptly than I had expected, but the time had come and I needed to be investing more time in my craft. It’s also true that writing was not a life-long dream for me. It was a hot-blooded passion discovered late in life, due in part to bedtime stories I’d tell my daughter, and the never-ending encouragement of my wife. Here I am, doing something I love every day and although that doesn’t mean each day is perfect, or even that I work as much as I should, it means when it’s time for me to go to work, open up my imagination and let it all go, I always look forward to what might spill out onto the page. It’s exciting, scary, constantly refreshing, and always challenging, but it’s mine.