I like number nine. It’s got something a bit sassy about it. Which is why I’m glad Cocktails and Dreams was my ninth book. I’ve written nine books in five years, and the more I think about that, the more insane it is. And I’m in a completely different place to where I was even a couple of years ago.
So I thought I’d take a few moments to reflect on what I’ve learnt:
- No matter how many books you write, you are always going to have those moments where you are insanely certain that you are the worst writer in the history of the world.
- It’s not enough to work on your craft, you’ve got to do your research on the industry – listen to podcasts, read the bookseller, keep an eye on what’s selling and what’s not.
- Surround yourself with positive people – find your tribe. People who tear you down, who constantly try to one-up, brag about their work or trample your wins are not your friends. Not everyone will get ‘it’ and that’s okay. But the ones who try to understand, or support you even when they don’t understand, keep them close.
- Don’t limit yourself – when it starts to feel stale, deviate, explore and play. No one writes the same book 40 times. You’re going to grow. The things you never thought you’d ever want to write, or be capable of writing, might just surprise you.
- Know that you shouldn’t compare yourself to other writers. You’re going to do it anyway, but know that you shouldn’t.
- Think bigger, and long term. Don’t be the fool who takes a thousand pound payout compared to a lifetime of trickling royalties. This is a career. Keep your rights, think about what you can do with them. Look after your pieces of the pie, don’t just sign the first contract that comes along.
- Stay hungry. Dream big. It’s not a conveyor belt. Don’t do the same thing a hundred times. Learn new marketing techniques, try new things. Growing and changing as a writer is one thing. Growing and changing as your marketing exec is just as important.
- Be a listener, a collaborator, a reader. Give to receive. Be part of the community. Don’t expect people to give a shit about your work when you don’t give a shit about them.
- Think about value – think about what you’re offering to readers, not what they can offer you. So often we just consistently call for people to buy our books. Instead, think about what you’re offering them. Maybe it’s not just a good story. Maybe it’s a friendly interaction on Twitter, or a response to their review. Maybe it’s a blog post that might help a writer earlier on in their career.