2013 was probably one of my biggest years yet. Twelve months ago I was unmarried, unpublished, and living in London. Today I’m officially a wife, I have two books out, and am a denizen of Johannesburg. All a bit topsy-turvy to say the least!
As such there’s rather too much to encapsulate in one end-of-year blog post, so I’ll focus on the three lessons I’ve learned in my first year as a published romance author. Because who doesn’t love a list?
1. Opinions are like… By far the hardest, yet probably most important lesson I’ve taken from my nascent descent into the murky publishing waters is that books are subjective. What some readers love, others hate, and neither one is a reflection on the inherent value of the work. Reviews are tough to read and impossible to reconcile, so all us writers can do is acknowledge what resonates and ignore what doesn’t… and then move on to Lesson #3.
2. No writer is an island. Until March or April this year, I’d always written in complete isolation. No one was allowed to read anything I was working on, I didn’t discuss my submissions or WIPs with anyone, in fact only a very few close friends had any idea I wrote at all. Then, in anticipation of the move to Jozi, on a whim I Googled to see whether there was a South African equivalent to RWA or similar. Enter the ROSAs! This fabulous community has been an unparalleled resource in my pre- and post-publication journey, from everything to technical expertise about royalty payments to unabashed vent sessions. I’ve learned so much – and am still learning – from this superb collection of writers, but more than anything they’ve taught me the importance of reaching out rather than struggling along on one’s own. They are, in fact, the best, and I’m super excited for the big stuff these ladies have planned for 2014.
3. Keep writing. Reviews stress me out, promo makes my head spin, and I’ll never win a thing because I wouldn’t know which contests to enter if they collapsed at my feet. But writing is a compulsion. I don’t care how little it earns per hour when you break everything down, or what sacrifices it demands, or how frustrating it can be, or whether or not anyone reads a word I produce. It’s my creative outlet, and I love it. I love my characters, I love their trials and triumphs, and I love when it all comes together in the end. No matter what other noise drones around publishing and the romance genre, the most important is just to keep writing.
And that brings us to 2014! I have some more acquisition news to share soon (yay!) but in the meantime, my office is closed until Monday and a lightning strike has knocked out our cable so our TV doesn’t work. I have a WIP to work on and edits to return…so I’ve watched eight episodes of Supernatural in two days. Begin as you mean to go on, right?
Happy New Year faithful readers, and may this one be even better than the last!