When I started writing stories, I was alone. Back then, it was all about paper and pens. I drew out my characters and wrote in secret. I was scared to share my writing and was embarrassed of my character drawings. I’m not a good artist, but I do love art.
Then, I started getting sad. I was tired of just living life with family, university, and work. This may sound bad, but everyone needs to have at least one hobby. I wanted to get out of my shell and joined a writing community that no longer exists. Some writers from that community had started a new community, but by then, I started to publish and talk to other published authors. My group of writers have changed. It took a while to feel connected to the other writers and then get comfortable with my characters.
My characters have become some of my best friends and I still talk to them in my head from time to time. Don’t start thinking that I’m nuts. Authors talk to their characters all the time.
Anyway, a community like that is good as long as you’re not publishing books because you can get too comfortable. Other writers who are in the same shoes as you and who are only thinking about publishing in the future, want the feedback, but they are naive because they think that they will get mostly positive feedback because they are providing positive feedback. In a community of that type, there’s a chance that you won’t hear the hard truth about your own writing and I learned that the hard way.
When that community started dying, I decided to publish a book and the first edition of Deity’s Soulmate came to be. I thought that the book was good because writers in that community said that it was good. I didn’t know about beta readers and that indie authors can hire editors and proofreaders. I was naive and stupid. I think that journey of making mistake after mistake made me the author that I am today.
In a way, those writers were my beta readers, but they weren’t good ones- well except for 5 writers. They were able to also see that the community was good for conversations, but they needed to do more if they were really serious about things. They needed to branch out and some have succeeded.
At first the reviews were good for that first edition and then they went bad and I learned that indie authors have the same rights as traditionally published authors.
Here’s the thing and that’s where I was really naive. I thought that indie authors didn’t have access to editors, proofreaders and beta readers. I thought that indie authors were solitary creatures, trying to get out book by book with hours of depending on oneself and maybe a best friend or two who are also interested in writing. Alone. And, then I joined WordPress.
At WordPress, I started following topics on writing, met other indie authors and learned that there are editors who are willing to work with indie authors for good prices. Along the way, I learned about Goodreads and that’s how I met a couple of amazing beta readers. I learned that positive feedback is a fantasy and that I need to look forward to negative feedback as much as I look forward to positive feedback. I started feeling better about my writing and became confident enough to publish again.
Communities matter and finding the right one takes time. I’m also on Facebook and joined author communities on there, too and that’s how I learned about trademarking and stupid mistakes. It made me think about my own mistakes and I decided to share.
There was an author who wrote an open letter to the author who started a mess with the word – cocky – and she pointed out that authors need tribes. She thinks that the author who started the mess didn’t have a community and was possibly alone in the process of publishing and getting noticed. It’s a lonely process, being alone as an author and just having a few dedicated readers. It’s an amazing feeling, having dedicated readers, but it’s not enough because readers is only one part of the author world. I don’t mean to hurt any of you by saying that, but it’s true. Having an author community for an author is good.
It’s a great feeling to know that others are working to the same goal. It’s great hearing them complaining about endless hours of writing and editing and or trying to find a cover artist. It’s fun seeing those meme’s about books and writer lives.
I recently took Lyft from work to home and told the driver about the whole- cocky- thing. He found it ridiculous and funny. I felt like an alien in the car. It was like being an author and dealing with situations like these was out of this world. It felt like to be a passenger, one needs to talk about football, past Lyft rides, and or watch current shows. That was my proof that people who are not writers or readers can’t understand what authors and writers go through. He said that maybe he should trademark the word – the – and get a lot of money from everyone. It didn’t help me think straight about the whole situation of author community/tribe.
If you’re a writer, published or not, look for a community where you can fit in and learn. It’s not about any feedback that one can get, but also remember that you need to provide feedback as well. You need to be active in the community. If for some reason, you leave the community and decide to come back, come back with a bang 😉 – Participate in discussions and share your experiences.
What mistakes that you did that made you the writer that you are today?