Lessons Learned

Over the last sixteen months or so I have been seriously pursuing a writing career. I wanted to make sure that I was successful at this new adventure so, I tried to do all the right things. I joined a couple of writing groups. I bought a lot of books on writing. I attended a lot learning sessions on the craft of writing and one major conference. I wanted to do it right the first time.

All this time I had been writing regularly, trying my hand at different approaches to plotting – or not, different types/genres of stories – trying to get a feel for where I am the most comfortable writing, how long it would take me to write something, etc.

Here lies the problem. I thought I was armed with all the information I needed to know and it was now time to take the leap and send something out into the world. But I was soon to learn that there is lots of stuff that I didn’t know I needed to know….

1. There are all kinds of things you don’t know that you don’t know. This was a hard lesson to learn since I spent a year learning all kinds of things to ensure that I knew it all. However, I have learned one cannot possibly know it all. I have not got an answer as to how you learn what you need to know except follow lesson number 6 below.

2. I have very little patience. I thought I had worked on this personal problem and made headway – I took the time to learn (over a year), I set obtainable deadlines (months away) – wrong! For me, deadlines of a couple of months away may as well be forever. I like instant gratification so following my business plan and setting these months from now deadlines was not easy but I did it only to find out it was not long enough, and/or I didn’t do all I should have done during those months to be ready to publish– see Lesson number 3.

3. Really good people are booked months in advance – Editors, Book Cover Artists, Formatters, etc. – You see, the logical side of my brain knew this, however, that side of my personality that does not like to wait for things could not believe this would really be true. Lesson learned book appointments early!

4. Even if you think you are organized, check twice before sending people your work to ensure you have sent the best copy. Computers are great – you can save multiple copies of your work with the click of a button, however remember what you named them or open them a couple of times and check the content before sending files off to others. I sent an old version out for others to look at and was mortified when it came back. This is also good information for daily writing – make sure you are working on the version you should be. I have added to older versions and then could not find my “new words” in the story the next day.

5. Like everything new you take on, learning about the self-publishing trade has a steep learning curve. There is always one more thing to do or one more thing to set up to ensure that you have it all together. Everyone has a different opinion on the best way to do it so do your homework and find what is best for you at the time. You can always change your mind and try another way the next time.

6. You can’t do it all yourself, even if you think you can. I was positive I could, again that personality thing – if I did it all myself it got done on my timelines and to my satisfaction – NOT! There are many people out there that are willing to help you but you have to ask for their help. And remember if they have been in the business for a while – what they have to say is probably right even if you don’t want to believe it – did I mention that personality thing???

7. Even though the Kitten is cute and wants to be close to you and help you write your story – keep him off the laptop keyboard. He may be techno-savvy and can send emails and turn off sound and USB ports that make your mouse stop working, but his owner is not as savvy and will have to spend time she doesn’t have figuring out how to get the computer back to the way she wants it to work.

Of course the best piece of advice I have received and want to pass on is write the best story you possibly can and don’t rush it just to get it out there. – This is good advice even though for this author, it was really hard to hear.

Until next time…

About Linda O'Toole

Women's Fiction Author
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