Have you ever done something and then looked back only to think to yourself, "Yeah, you did that totally wrong....pretty sure a four-year-old could have done it better." ?
Well..... for me that thought has crossed my mind about a billion times as a new author.
First of all, I like to write books. I LOATHE the other aspects of publishing them. Mostly because I have no clue how to do the rest of it, and I have literally had to learn by fire. Book formatting? Huh? Precision marketing, wha--? Social media...I'm drowning. Never mind the endless little things like Oxford commas, affect vs effect, and the fact that I can never spell definitely correctly the first time.
The single biggest mistake I have made as a new author is starting with a series. Yes, you read that right. Your beloved Jessie, Silas, Salinger and Devin nearly sunk my author ship. The reason for this is because in my scramble to finish the series, I did nothing for pre-release buzz, I didn't send out a single ARC or do any cover reveals, and I most certainly didn't try to market them, not until I was finished with the series, which is entirely too late. *insert groan.
So here I am, the underdog climbing uphill both ways. Let me begin by saying my first book was never meant to be a series. There, I said it. I initially wanted to see if I could even write a book, because 80,000 words is a mountain of letters to string together. What I ended up realizing, is that 80,000 words is not nearly enough to tell the story how I wanted to, and to properly develop the characters. So, the Jessie Hayes series was born.
When I won first place in the prestigious National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award in 2017, I was THE ONLY author who didn't have an agent, a publisher, an editor, a formatter, a street team, and a professional cover designer. I won that award despite my crappy self-made cover, my missed edits, and my lack-luster social media following. My point is that we all struggle. We all learn things the hard way. But sometimes, we get lucky too. Sometimes a path is lit to show us the way. If I admitted that I was struggling with my second book and unsure if anyone would ever read a single thing I wrote, at the very time I received the call about my NERFA win, you would know that was my defining moment as a would be author. That was the moment when I picked myself up, dusted myself off, and accepted that the road would be exceedingly difficult, but more importantly, that I COULD do it.
In the end, Jessie Silas, Salinger, and Devin would not be the fan favorites they are had I followed the rules and published a standalone. I'm ok learning along the way by being thrown to the wolves. Nothing has come easy for me on my path to being an author. I have had to dig in and fight for every book I have published, while limping along next to authors backed by huge publishing houses and massive marketing teams. But I don't begrudge those authors any of that because I know EXACTLY how hard they worked to get there.
In the end, being an underdog in the market may not be bad. I'll just have to work that much harder for each review and treasure each fan that much more. I'm ok with that, because my dad might be right, "If it was easy, it wouldn't be worth it."