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posted on February 26, 2015 by Tonya Burrows

Things I learned in my first two years as a published author.

BrokenHonor-500x750Writing has always been my dream job, but the realities of a writing career are not as pretty as the dream was. In an effort to prepare the future writers out there, here’s an honest look at what I’ve learned these past two years.

  1. No writing = no money. This one seems fairly straightforward and common sense-y – If you want to keep getting paid, you have to keep putting books out. But sometimes, that’s easier said than done. 2013 was a fantastic year for me. I released 3 books and they all sold well enough that I made more money than I’ve ever made in my life. For the first time ever, I didn’t have to have to drag myself through a day job I hated. But 2014? Not so fantastic. I started fearing the next book. What if it wasn’t as good? What if I let my readers down? What if everyone realizes I have no idea what I’m doing? The doubts got to me and I stalled out, couldn’t seem to put two words together on a page to save my life. And now I’m back to dragging myself to a day job because I let my personal demons get in the way of my dream career. Which brings me to the second thing I learned…
  2. Starve your personal demons. Ignore reviews. Don’t let them wheedle their way in to your subconscious and make you start to doubt yourself. There are people who troll sites like Goodreads and get their jollies from ripping down authors. Starve your personal demons (and the internet trolls) of the crap they feed on and just write.
  3. Laugh at one-star reviews. But if you must read reviews (and, yes, I must) then learn to laugh at the snarky one-stars you will enviably get. And remember that for every hater, there will be two more people out there who will love your book.
  4. Marketing a book is harder than writing it. A lot harder. If there is one part of this job I can truly say I hate, it’s promo. I’ve never been a salesperson and I’m just plain no good at it. I’m always making stupid mistakes, like forgetting to link a tweet back to the book I’m trying to promote, or scheduling my Thunderclap campaign for the wrong day. And #hashtags for #marketing purposes are #sofarbeyondme. But promo is a necessary evil and if you don’t do it, nobody will do it for you.
  5. Time management is key. Honestly, I’m still working on this one. I always seem to be doing too much of one thing and not enough of another. I still haven’t perfected the balancing act of having one book in edits, another in draft, and another gearing up for release. It’s a never-ending juggling act and you need to find time management techniques that work for you early in your career. (Believe me—this is a must. Not taking time management more seriously is a mistake I’m paying for now. I’m dropping balls left and right and I fear some people *cough* my publicist *cough* think I’m a flake.)
  6. Less social media is more. I will fully admit to being a social media addict. I find myself on Facebook and Twitter way too often throughout the day. (While writing this post, I’ve checked Twitter three times and FB twice. *sigh*) Writing’s a lonely career and it can be fun to connect with your readers and other writers. Makes it very easy to lose hours in the black hole of social media and before you know it, it’s 11pm and you haven’t written a word. If you find yourself struggling, I suggest using an app like Self Control or Freedom to limit your time on social media.  Rescue Time is also great for an overview of how much time you spend doing what each week.
  7. Maintain a (real) social life. As I said, writing is a lonely career and writers tend to be homebodies by nature. But I can tell you from experience, social media is not enough social interaction. Your creative well will run dry if you shut yourself in your office 24/7 with nobody to talk to but your dog and your characters. Also, you might go a little bit crazy. So schedule time every week to get out of the house and flex those rusty social skills.
  8. Keep good records. You’ll thank yourself at tax time. Deductions are a writer’s best friend.

So there’s a short list of what I’ve learned. And despite some of the harsher realities of making a living as a writer, I still wouldn’t want to do anything else.

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Ice-cold and unbreakable, Travis Quinn is the HORNET team’s hard-ass. No weaknesses. Except, of course, for the accident that not only destroyed his career as a Navy SEAL, but left terrifying blanks in his memory. But Travis remembers everything about Mara Escareno—the curve of her lips, the feel of her body…and how he walked out on her suddenly six weeks ago.

Mara could never resist the dangerously sexy Travis, which is probably how she ended up pregnant and disowned by her family. But before Travis can fully process the news, Mara is kidnapped by his enemies and plunged into the violent, merciless world of human trafficking. They want Travis—and the information locked within his damaged memory—no matter the cost. And now Travis’s enemies have discovered his only weakness…Mara.

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Tonya Burrows

Writing has always been my one true love. I wrote my first novel-length story in 8th grade and haven't put down my pen since. I received a B.A. in creative writing from SUNY Oswego and I'm now working on a MFA in popular fiction at Seton Hill University. When I'm not writing, I spend my time reading, painting (badly), exploring new places, and enjoying time with my family. Give me a good horror movie over a chick flick any day. (And, let's be honest, I'll take a bad horror movie too!) I'm a geek at heart and pledge my avid TV fandom to Supernatural and Doctor Who. I'm also a big fan of The Voice. What can I say? Guilty pleasure. I share my life with two dogs and a ginormous cat. I'm from a small town in Western New York, but I suffer from a bad case of wanderlust and usually end up moving someplace new every few years. Luckily, my animals are all excellent travel buddies.

11 thoughts on “Things I learned in my first two years as a published author.”

  1. Sharon rose author says:

    To reply to lessons learnt
    I could not have written I it better myself
    Ditto xx
    Good luck and let the inspiration follow

  2. ELF says:

    Excellent points. Thanks for your honesty and for showing the other important aspects of being an author. Sorry that you have been hit by the trolls, but there are some folks without anything better to do than try to make others as miserable as they are. Glad you are ignoring your demons and continuing to write and I look forward to reading many more of your wonderful stories!

    1. Yes, some people out there in Internetlandia just like to tear others down. It’s sad. It took me a while to not let them get inside my head and play with my personal demons.

      And thanks for thinking my stories are wonderful! *squee*

  3. jesstopper says:

    Thanks for sharing, Tonya! I can relate to so much of what you said, especially the “What if every­one real­izes I have no idea what I’m doing?” demon! Starve that puppy! I hope 2015 treats you well. 🙂

    1. YES! That “What if everyone realizes I have no idea what I’m doing?” demon is the absolute worse. I face him down every time I start a new book.

  4. Amanda Usen says:

    Great blog, Tonya! I agree. On all points. Yup! I’d also add: exercise. You won’t want to, especially if you are behind deadline, but getting moving will put your head in a completely different space, a better space with more energy…and WORDS!

    1. You’re right—exercise is a MUST. I’ve recently just started running/walking three miles everyday. I had to do something because I’d turned into a slug and didn’t like the way I felt about myself.

  5. I love this post. It sounds sooooo familiar, though you’ve been more successful thus far than I have been. I need to work on these very issues. Thanks for the awesome post!

    1. You’re welcome. If it can help even one author avoid some of the pitfalls of our dream career, then I’ll call this post a win! Thanks for commenting!

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