Being a successful author is dependent on so many factors, but the first and foremost is you. What you put into your work will show in its quality and its success. When you decide to become an author--even if you take the traditional route--the first thing you need to realize is how much it is going to take. And the first person investing those things will be you. The three most important things to invest are your time, your money, and yourself.
It takes time to be an author, and making sure you have regular time to dedicate to your craft is key. This includes setting aside an afternoon to schedule posts, taking a trip to the library for some research on your setting, and networking with other authors to grow your audience and learn. Some people need an hour every day, others need a whole day once a week. Find whatever makes you most productive and stick with it. No one is going to just hand you time, so you need to be dedicated in making that time for yourself.
It takes money to publish if you’re taking the independent route--cover designers, editors, and ISBNs all cost money--which is part of the reason the traditional side of the industry has stuck around for so long, despite serious issues. Indie pubbing is a great answer to that, even despite the costs. While it’s going to cost you, it’s important to spend smart. Check out sites like Fiverr or DeviantArt for artists, and network with other authors to find inexpensive editing options and which services are worth the money. Free programs like Grammarly and Krita are a great resource too.
Another important investment is taking courses on writing craft, publishing, and marketing. You can get a lot of great advice for free by following folks in the industry on social media and listening to what they have to say, but you’re also going to want to check out indie-author specific seminars/webinars. Even if you choose to go the traditional route, a huge amount of the marketing effort is going to fall on your shoulders, even in the financial burden doesn’t, so you’ll need to know how to navigate that. Plus it’s always good to know how the “other half’ lives.
How well you invest your money is going to show in your finished product, and readers will come back to an author who is well edited and has an awesome cover.
This is the most important part. The trope of the starving artist? The suffering creative? Forget it. Leave it at the door. Never mention it again unless you’re telling someone else to ignore it. The time you put in will help your work, but if you are stressed about putting words on the page or finishing that round of revisions, or getting out just one more social media post then it’s hard to feel justified in taking personal time. But you cannot produce good content when you don’t invest in yourself. Being as healthy and happy as you can will improve your work. “Happy” and “healthy” look different to everyone, and you, while awesome, aren’t perfect. So cut yourself some slack, and don’t compare your success to others. For me, “happy and healthy” are a week where I only have one anxiety attack and get outside every other day when I’m not working.
When that’s not the case, my writing suffers. Sometimes the best thing you can do for your writing is to not write. When I’m depressed, my writing is terrible and I often have to re-do a lot of it, which also just makes me more depressed. Take a bath, read a good book, eat a good meal, watch a new show. Without you, there is no writing, so take care of yourself first. Honor your limits, and respect your body and mind when they tell you to take a break. And if you’re really struggling, please, please, seek help. Your work can wait.
For tips on making the most of the time and money you invest, check out our other posts. What is the most important investment you’ve made in your career as an author?
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