If you didn't know, that is from a Berenstain Bears book. One of my kids' favorites to be exact. I read it out loud more times than I care to admit. It's a fitting title however for my writing career thus far.
The more I learn about writing, the more I realize I may have started backwards. I don’t mean I queried an unfinished manuscript or anything but I didn't do some basic things I should have, simply because I was too scared or didn't know.
I have a lot of author “friends” online. Some I've gotten to know a little better than others and in all honesty, there are several I only recognize their names when I scroll through my Facebook feed. One thing they all have in common though? A lot more likes/followers/friends/whatever than me. Several of them don’t even have any published works…or finished works. I wondered how this was possible. To be honest, I was actually a little jealous. How could these unpublished authors have a bigger following than me, who had “followed the rules”…okay, they were rules I’d partly read in some how to write book and partly made up in my own head.
Confession: I didn't tell anyone I was writing a book. Not even my own mother. My husband knew (I mean that would be a little hard to keep a secret) and maybe two close friends. I researched and checked out advice books from the library, all while keeping it to myself. I didn't want to flash it around for a couple of reasons.
- If I never finished it or it sucked horribly, I didn't want a large audience to that failure. Chalk that one up to pride and the fact that I don’t repeat things I fail at (true story. If I’m not perfect at it, I don’t want to do it). Yeah, I know, that’s a bad character flaw.
- I was terrified that someone would steal my ideas. I had no personal experience with that one but I've had several family members have ideas stolen (not stories but still). This one was a legitimate worry. I have a friend who had this happen (on a small scale) and it was very stressful for her even though it all turned out okay in the end.
Number one is the one I did backwards apparently. Most people start building a following long before they publish. I thought that if I didn’t have anything published for people to read I couldn’t begin to market. I have to admit, I’m still not very good at marketing but I’m better than I was. I went into it not knowing a thing with a publisher who didn’t do a thing for me. Not a good combination.
Luckily I have some friends who are awesome at it and are more than willing to help me out. I’ve learned that it’s always a good idea to seek out advice from those more experienced than you. Maybe with the next book things will be different.