Dear New Author... It's Not About You
I came to a crossroads in my career yesterday. And I almost took the wrong path.
But first, let's go back a few steps.
I consider myself a new author. My debut novel releases in a few weeks. And, much like other aspiring novelists, I began this journey for the love of telling stories. Particular types of stories, but you can read more about that in Why I Write and An Unlikely Author.
Over the past several months, I've immersed myself in the online writing community. I quickly learned the author life wasn't writing day and night on an antique typewriter, locked away in a woodland cabin while gentle raindrops tapped against my window. Although, parts of that scenario still sound nice!
To survive the emotional rollercoaster of indie publishing, I needed solid writer friends. And I found them via social media, in friendly Facebook groups like The Writing Gals.
Contrary to my introverted personality, I dove in, asking for and offering advice and support in turn.
Then, something happened...
I posted in a Facebook group seeking advice regarding collaborations with Bookstagrammers, which resulted in a myriad of requests for my cover designer.
In the past, I never had a problem sharing this information. I searched for several weeks to find my current designer and was happy to save other authors the time, stress, and hassle I experienced.
Until my designer took longer and longer to respond to my emails. Even as I write this blog post, I'm not sure when I'll receive the preliminary designs for my second book cover.
That's when the fear set in.
Small but persuasive voices in my head whispered she's too busy for you, now. You'll never get your next book cover in time. And forget the rest of the series! You'll have to start all over and find a new designer. And good luck getting the rest of the covers to look the same.
In a panic, I reached out to a small group of authors I've come to trust for wise (and brutally honest) advice.
Guess what they told me?
Get over yourself.
Okay, I might be paraphrasing a little.
They reminded me that the indie community is a collaboration of authors willing to help each other.
A rising tide raises all ships.
Sure, I could withhold my cover designer info. I could delete my post. Or turn off commenting. And refrain from sharing my cover in the future.
That's my prerogative.
But I had to ask myself...
Would I rather be an author known for a beautiful cover or known for a generous heart?
That's when I remembered the Bible verses I base all of my stories on:
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
Love is not self-serving.
It's true. My designer may get too busy. She may prefer working with another author over me. Or, she may overbook, and I'll have to look elsewhere. Or, it may all work out completely fine.
Everything we do as indie authors is a risk.
But there's one thing we can control... ourselves.
I don't want to be the lone writer typing like mad while I sip my black coffee in an isolated cabin.
Okay, I lie. Sometimes, I still want that... At least for a weekend retreat.
But I'd rather be a part of a community of authors who help each other. I'd rather live out 1 Corinthians 13. And yes, there's a balance. I can't devote every waking second to other writers and never put another word on the page. But it's a mindset shift.
We're truly in this together.
So, New Author, please know that you're not alone.
Find your community. And when you do, don't let a moment of panic lead you to a life of solitude. Don't hold anything too tightly ~ be it your cover designer, editor, story idea, or marketing strategy ~ there are more than enough readers for all of us.
And, as my dear friend, Daria White, says after every podcast episode: "If you've written a story, it's already unique because you wrote it, and no one can write a story like you can."
Welcome to this crazy, exhausting, exhilarating, joyful, tearful, terrifying, and triumphant journey we call publishing.
We're so glad you're here!
And since I'm on a roll admitting I'm wrong, allow me to rephrase my earlier statement:
Dear New Author, it is about you.
But it's not ALL about you.
It's about all of us.
PS ~ In case you're wondering, you can find my cover designer here. 😉