My Life as an Unknown Author

Self promotion is no longer an option for authors/writers whether traditionally published or self-published – it’s a must.  Unless you are a well-recognized author (Stephen King to recognized celebrities or politicians) you will have to promote yourself and your story.

Authors are ultimately loners – who enjoy long periods of time in isolation and loneliness.  We do not feel alone – we have our characters, our story to tell – that urge to immerse ourselves into another world.

Once in a while, when we create our story somewhat to our satisfaction (although there is still the knowledge we can do better) we have the ability to enter reality.  At that time we should throw ourselves into ‘marketing ‘our books and ourselves.  But obstacles surface on a daily basis – we are by choice loners.  Often we have been taught that to blow your own horn is wrong and a terrible character flaw.  Often we don’t really want social contact.  Our minds are already churning for another story to tell.  Often we make the mistake of trying to do both and consequently do neither.  We become confused and tell ourselves that we are suffering burn-out.

Many unknown authors are surrounded by people who don’t understand us.  We are further conditioned to believe we aren’t really good enough to be a superior author.  Surely, if you are writing a fantastic story it will be grabbed up immediately.  J. K. Rowling would be their example – not believing she wasn’t an overnight success.  No one would care or see the number of years she suffered insecurity, doubts and rejections.  She created Harry Potter – a world-wide phenomena so surely we are able to do the same.  Then there are the subtle – or not so subtle – suggestions we move on to another career.

We begin to doubt ourselves – besides having life pass us by – we are somewhat ‘freeloaders’ as well – allowing others to support us.  The doubts and guilt is enforced.  We contemplate giving up.  We begin to possibly ‘sabotage’ our own success.  We believe others.  So now we have many questions running through our mind.  Are we good enough – or are we tricking ourselves. Again the confusion and questions wrack our mind.   Some call it burn-out, but it’s possibly sabotage.

We must learn to believe in ourselves – because to write another Harry Potter won’t make you a success.  Harry Potter is unique and definitely one of a kind.  Create your own story.  The joy of life and living is being individuals, not the same.  That has been proven over and over throughout history.

We must learn to sift through criticism and rejection – because even those closest to us may not believe we are that good – because it’s not to their taste.   I often wish my husband was interested in researching as I write historical romance.  But he’s not interested and worse – he doesn’t read romance.  Most men I know don’t.  I have learned to accept that.  His believing I might be the next J. K. Rowling is probably impossible.

We must prioritize – I am finally realizing that my mind can’t create a good story and deal with marketing as well.  I must choose one or another.  I have written four romance stories and have another consuming my mind.  I am fortunate I am a woman – I learned that I couldn’t be ‘super-human’ a few years ago.  I couldn’t juggle – mother, career (or job), housewife – together and expect to be perfect at anything.  Theories say it’s possible (with help) – my reality was a long-haul truck driver and on occasional help.  To have a husband’s help meant – a divorce (and finding another man) or doing it myself.  Reality meant he couldn’t quit his job and get another just to help me.  Reality often meant I needed to work as well because he couldn’t pay the bills himself.

Finding Time – So now the above isn’t my problem.  My children are grown.  My husband’s job pays the bills and I have free time.  I can seriously write.  I am learning and must accept I can’t both market and write.  I am not a ‘super-human’.

I hope all people might learn this.  Then we can write a book – polish it to perfection and then spend some time promoting ourselves and our book.  Hopefully the next might be easier .  Good luck to all writers/authors alike. 

Time Consuming Website Design

Regardless of whether you are a published author or self-published – today you must learn how to ‘self-promote’.  ‘Self promotion’ for many writers can be very confusing, time consuming and irritating.  It was to me as I was only interested in telling stories and still am.

So as we must start somewhere – I would suggest a Website with a blog.  Since I didn’t know how to design a website – and certainly one that was easy to follow and simple – I hired a company at $30.00 a month and an annual fee to host it.  I could then post to my website – lay it out – but there were no instructions in lay-out – or making it the best it could be.  Needless to say it was a mess.  I had no idea how to attract followers and for my $30.00 a month, I wasn’t getting advice in this matter either.  Without followers – I was stuck out in cyber-space and didn’t know what to do.

One day I was ‘searching’ around and found WordPress – at no cost – with themes/appearance and self-maintained, I could get a webpage.  Of course it was a ‘work in progress’ – over many months and although I was posting things in a sporadic manner – it never seemed complete – it never seemed very effective, but at least it didn’t cost me I thought.

Then I thought of Harriet – who had web-design experience.  I wrote

Simply Divine Web Design

It was by far the best thing I’ve ever done.  Harriet – for reasonable hourly fees did everything for me.  There was no more concern or wasted time trying to figure out what I was doing.  Suddenly I could write and know that she would – link, deal with search engines, making suggestions on lay-out and always wait for my approval and all those other matters that still confuse me.  She created a beautiful, simple website for me.  She sent me simple ‘how-to’ instructions that even a child can follow.  But, being a writer with my head in the clouds I had copious amounts of questions.  Again – the speed she answered, the speed she corrected my site and the way she put my mind at ease are so amazing to me.  When I think of the hours, weeks and even months I have wasted my time trying to do a beautiful ‘website’ I can say without hesitation, that website designing on your own – although seemingly cost saving – is not if you are not in the website design business.

I suggest that even as an author – we must do a ‘business-plan’ and consider our costs accordingly.  I thought I was saving money – designing and doing my own website.  But if it isn’t effective – if the layout is wrong – if it doesn’t attract visitors – if the visitors become immediately confused – you have wasted so much time.  Unless you consider your time as ‘free’ and worth nothing – I would recommend the first thing any small business do is hire a web-site designer, leaving yourself time to pursue your own activities – those things you want to do.  A website is a must for anyone intending to promote their business in this time.

Thank you Harriet for being there for me and thank you for helping me through an extremely complicated process I would still be working on ineffectively and frustrated.