I've been writing pretty much all my life, but it wasn't until 2011 (when I started writing my third book, Out of Nowhere, with the intent of actually getting published) that I decided to make a full-time career out of it. Back then, like a lot of new authors, I had no clue what I was doing or what I was in for. Now that I'm relatively seasoned, I can't help but wonder what I'd tell my younger, greener self if given the chance.
So naturally, I came up with a list:
1. You will meet other authors through Twitter, etc. and feel like you've finally found your people. We're insecure and a little crazy and we talk about publishing and books and cats and food and it's pretty cool.
2. You will go through phases during which all you feel like doing is playing Candy Crush or re-watching Grey's Anatomy on Netflix and you'll feel really guilty about it. It's okay to avoid that WIP if you're just not feeling it. For a little while. Then you'd better put away your tablet, get your ass back in that chair, and keep writing.
3. You will experience how simultaneously exciting and terrifying it is to have a book out on submission. You will also learn about patience, handling rejection, and how to take editors' feedback and apply it to your next book.
4. You will learn that beta readers and critique partners are not just important, but downright necessary. It's a daunting thing, sending your baby off for others to criticize, but it's the most valuable learning experience you'll ever have.
5. You will discover that the YA community is awesome, but there's some vitriol too. You'll focus on the awesome.
6. You will discover that most authors are kind, supportive, and lovely, but there are some jerks too. You'll focus on the lovelies.
7. You will get reviews that make you question your writing skills/career/life. But then you'll learn that opinions are subjective and not everyone is going to like your books.
8. You will get reviews that make it all seem worthwhile. And they will make your day.
9. You will feel invisible sometimes. Why doesn't so-and-so respond to my tweet/email me back/read my book/mention my book on their blog/know I exist?
10. You will read other books in your genre and support/promote/shower love on the author. And they'll be appreciative and grateful and maybe even do the same for you.
11. You will learn that even the most famous and successful authors feel insecure sometimes. Even Stephen freaking King probably has doubts about his work. (Well, maybe not)
12. You will realize how random and fluctuating your sales earnings can be. One month you'll make enough to treat yourself to a new laptop, the next month you'll make just enough for a McDonald's Happy Meal.
13. You will stalk your Goodreads author page and keep a close eye on your Amazon rankings. Not all authors do this, but they have way more willpower than you do.
14. You'll compare yourself to other authors and feel like a failure and/or imposter sometimes. Then you'll learn to keep your eyes on your own work.
15. You will discover that the good far outweighs the bad. You're doing what you love and getting paid for it. You can live in yoga pants or pajamas and never leave the house. And even though writing is hard and sometimes lonely, you'll realize how damn fortunate you are to be able to do it for a living.
2011 Rebecca Phillips, you won't regret a thing.