New Author Advice
A friend recently asked me about what it takes to become a successful author. (Like I am an example!) I cautioned the potential wordsmith that this road is long and arduous. As I thought about this negative moment, it occurred to me that I had become jaded. So, I thought it would be a fun exercise to describe the positive aspects of my adventure.
But first, some housekeeping. Authors live in a competitive space with thousands of classic works (which continue to be enormously popular) and hundreds of new books coming out every week. As a result, an unknown author faces tough odds.
My first piece of advice is to develop a long-term plan that begins with a fundamental decision: Are you writing for fun or profit? This is a substantial first step with significant ramifications. I have explained the rest of the writing process in a previous blog:
My biggest piece of advice is to use outlines:

Housekeeping done. So, let’s get into the heart-to-heart advice. I feel it is a privilege to write because I get to express my ideas. Someday, I would like to fly a spacecraft. Look at that. I expressed one of my desires to the world. Now, this thought will be digitally stored for all eternity. Quite a powerful concept.
Being an author is empowering, and it is great to see my mental creations come to life. Writing also helps a person speak, organize thoughts and interact with others. After I became an author, I noticed other improvements. I now pay more attention to how people act, talk, write, dress, and think. A whole new side of life opened up.
Writing also helps me organize my thoughts, life, and projects because, as an author, I need to visualize the beginning, middle, and end of a story. In addition, my knowledge of Microsoft Word and vocabulary has dramatically improved. I also have taken an interest in new subject matters. Plus, I consciously and unconsciously examine words, sentences, and paragraphs. This sentence dissection gets me thinking about the author’s intent and choices.
One surprising improvement is more social interaction. To further my marketing attempts, I joined Facebook and made many online friends. They have been supportive, helpful, generous, and understanding. What a fantastic gift! I never would have expected this benefit.
The major downside to being an author is the critics. Haters have to hate, and that is part of life. However, a book is like a child, and we want our children to succeed. It hurts when I see my daughter publicly fail, and a critical review feels the same. Honestly, in the beginning, I did not think this would be an issue. My thought was, “I will write a splendid book, and everybody will love reading it.” Clearly, I was too optimistic. Finally, on this topic, there is a rainbow of critical reviews. Critics can point out true or untrue problems. Why do critics point out nonexistent issues? Sometimes people make mistakes or do not get the point. But a review is public and will be out there forever.
I imagine each author has their own personal frustrations. For me, poor grammar and spelling top my list. However, my writing efforts have dramatically improved my abilities.
My other frustration is marketing. I am not a natural marketer, and the concept of: “Hey, look at me! I wrote a book! Buy it!” Such an activity is not appealing. Yet, I know that to be accepted, I must adopt this mentality. Hence, I coined the phrase, “Writing is 99% marketing and 1% other.”
Other changes are not categorized as good or bad. Writing made me more liberal. Why? Authors must connect with their characters, and to do so, they require compassion. I also spot writing mistakes everywhere. Plus, I critically analyze books and movies. “The plot has to make sense!” Yes, I am referring to the recent James Bond movie. “Why did the villain want to destroy the world? What was his plan to disperse the toxin? How did he pay for his world-ending technology? He somehow got an entire island in contested waters? Why did so many people around him believe in his mad scheme?” The actors were great, but the plot was dismal.
While I have had many setbacks and devoted many hours to my craft, I would say the experience has been rewarding. Would I recommend this path? Hmm. A person needs to understand what they are getting into before jumping into this pool. The odds for success are drastically low, but there are many nontangible rewards. I am glad I undertook this journey, and I am grateful to my four blog readers. This blog was a privilege to write.

You’re the best -Bill
December 01, 2021
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