by Raine Thomas
I first became a published author on July 24, 2011. I’ll never forget the nerves that shimmied through me before my husband pressed the publish button on Amazon (I couldn’t do it.) It was as though I knew my life would never be the same after that. But hit publish we did, and here I am now with more than 20 published books under my belt.
I can pinpoint two things I did right in my author journey. The first was publishing the complete Daughters of Saraqael trilogy all at the same time. Self-publishing was just getting hot in 2011, and readers were devouring every affordable book they could load onto their Kindles. Once they found my first book, Becoming, the majority of readers also bought the next two books in the trilogy. My fans of those books remain the most passionate that I still interact with today.
The second thing I did right was use the cover of Becoming as my avatar on social media. I had zero followers when decided to self-publish. Zero. I didn’t have a Twitter account. Instagram and Pinterest were barely a thing. TikTok wasn’t even a gleam in its creator’s mind. I only had a personal Facebook account that I decided wasn’t professional enough to use for my author brand.
In short, I had to start building a fan base from scratch.
I’m a serious introvert. Social media was (and, quite frankly, still is) waaaaaay outside my comfort zone. I was so uncomfortable putting my own photo out there that I decided to use my book cover. It ended up being the smartest thing I could have done. My following grew almost instantly, and most of those followers wanted to know more about the book. Sales often followed suit.
So, yes, I did some things right. And because I did, I got the fan support I needed to motivate me to keep writing. I’ll be forever grateful for that.
There are a few things I wish I’d known before I hit publish, though. I thought I’d share them today in hopes they help another new or aspiring author on their own journey. Here we go:
- You will get negative reviews, and they will hurt like hell. Every writer and other artist must be able to handle criticism. An author’s first draft is generally utter rubbish, and we need the critical feedback of others whom we trust to help us polish our work and produce the best book possible.
That said, negative reviews we receive after publication—reviews about the book we spent weeks, months, and sometimes years of our lives writing and honing—slice like blades to the heart. Those reviewers might as well tell us we have hideous babies. But they’ll pour their lambast of our work into a review that will live in perpetuity, haunting us to our graves, and there is nothing we can do about it but cry into our cereal bowls.
Here’s what you should take away from this: even the harshest negative review can help you grow as a writer. Don’t let them get you down. Let them motivate you to do better.
(Then go and read the negative reviews of your favorite books. Believe me, it will make you feel better.)
- Just because one of your books achieves success, that doesn’t mean they all will. I published my first contemporary romance, For Everly, just as New Adult Romance was hitting its stride. I earned more on that book in three months than I’d made in any other year of my life. I thought I had hit the big time!
Five months after publishing For Everly, I published my second contemporary romance…and sales fell completely flat. The New Adult market had become oversaturated, making my book just a tiny drop in the bucket.
What I learned is that the key to a successful writing career isn’t to strive for the next #1 New York Times Bestseller (not that this isn’t a wonderful goal!) The key is to understand the market and strive for a steady fan base you can rely on to purchase anything you write.
Engage with your readers. Get them excited about your next project. And take every sale as the blessing it is.
- Never compare yourself to other authors. The author community is tight-knit, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because our community is largely open, accepting, and supportive. We cheer each other on, offer each other advice, beta read for reach other, and help promote each other. I’ve made lifelong friends after connecting with other authors.
This is a curse, however, when you see the success of other authors and you begin comparing yourself to them. Why are they achieving such a high level of success? I’m doing the same things they’re doing. What am I doing wrong?
This is a form of self-torture no one should put themselves through. Instead, continue to support and encourage your fellow authors and do your own thing, knowing there are other writers out there aspiring to be just as successful as you.
Being an author is a tough job, especially when it’s not your only job. You make sacrifices to pursue your passion. But I can say after nearly twelve years of doing this that I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Raine Thomas is a multiple award-winning author of bestselling romance.
Raine is a hopeless romantic with a background in the fields of mental health and wedding planning…two areas that intersect far more than one would think. Her years working with children and young adults with emotional and behavioral challenges inspired her to create protagonists who overcome their own conflicts. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.
Raine loves to hear from readers! You can connect with her through her BestSelling Reads author page, or at: