June 21, 2019– Wow, this is an excellent question! Let’s dive right in.
Q: “Lacey, my family doesn’t support my dream of becoming a writer. They tell me that I won’t make any money and that I should focus on getting a real job. Writing is something I love, but I understand that I will need to pay my bills at the same time. How do I convince them that I’m doing something that I love and that this will pay off?”
A: Whoa…for a second after reading this, I was at a loss for words. I’ll break it down because there are a couple of hidden questions in here and I don’t want to miss them.
My family doesn’t support my dream of becoming a writer. Sometimes, families aren’t supportive of our dreams. They mean well, but then again, some of them don’t. Some families don’t support the arts, and they don’t understand or appreciate any form of artistic expression. This can be very difficult. You have to follow your OWN path and whatever journey that leads you on. No one can decide what you should do with your life. If you want to be a writer, by all means, do it! Find others that will support you in all of your endeavours no matter what they are.
They tell me I won’t make any money and I should focus on getting a real job. I can tell you from first-hand experience that this has been said to me time and time again. “Writer’s don’t make any money,” “How are you going to pay your bills?” “No one is going to buy your books,” “Who do you think you are?” Yep, it hurts. But, that’s what makes victory so sweet. The fact is, there are millions of writers out there who make plenty of money writing books. And there are so many ways to make a living writing! You can write for magazines, you can do copywriting, editing, content creation, blogging, journalism, and hundreds of other things that revolve around writing. Focus on honing your skills and getting as much experience as possible. Last time I checked, which was 56 seconds ago, writing was a real job.
How can I convince them that I’m doing something I love and that this will pay off? You can’t and you never will convince them so stop trying. Do what you want to do because YOU want to do it. Life is way too short to be living your life based on what other people want you to do, say, or think. Getting up in the morning is a gamble, crossing the street is a gamble, travelling is a gamble, and the list goes on. There are no guarantees in life except that we only have one shot at it. Don’t spend your life wondering what if. If this is what you want to do, you don’t need anyone else’s approval. I can’t tell you that this will pay off, but what I can tell you is that you won’t regret trying. We only regret the chances we never take.
Keep your head up. If you don’t believe in yourself, who will?
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January 21, 2019– Being an author is fun! Book signings and launch parties, and seeing your book on the shelf in the bookstore are definite perks of the job, but there’s a certain type of person who shouldn’t be an author. I’m not saying there are people who can’t be authors, I’m saying that there are people who shouldn’t be authors. Ready to find out who those people are? Here we go! You shouldn’t be an author if:
You aren’t willing to physically work hard. Know what’s funny? That most people think that being an author is easy and that the hardest part is writing the book. Well, I’m here to smash that misconception into a million shiny pieces and tell you the truth. The truth is, being an author is hard. It’s physically and mentally demanding and if you don’t believe me, follow me around during the day of a book signing or launch. Who sets up the table? Who plans the display? Who brings the books? Who gets the dates and locations sorted? Who orders the inventory? Who makes sure that the signage and marketing are on point and convey a purposeful message? Who advertises the event? Who invites everyone they know? Who does the social media promotion? Who stands there for hours in the middle of a store promoting their book while the general public ignores them or pretends not to see them? Who takes a gamble on events and drags everything they own to said event just in the hopes that they’ll sell their books? WE DO. AUTHORS DO. No one does it for us, and we are directly responsible for our success. Oh, and if you’re thinking, yeah, but if you’re traditionally published your publisher does all of this for you. WRONG. The tides are turning and now, more than ever, authors are responsible for most of this stuff, if not all.
You hate and/or are scared of rejection. I’ve personally been rejected enough times that the rejection letters could easily wallpaper the side of my house. But did I give up? No. If you hate rejection, give up easily, are easily discouraged and allow people’s opinions to dictate your success or allow those opinions to force you to give up on yourself and your dreams, being an author isn’t for you. To be in this game, you have to welcome and get used to rejection, because every no, leads to a yes eventually.
You have a thin skin. You will be ridiculed, have people pick apart your work, have people tell you that they hated your book and that you’re a no talent hack, you’ll have people (my extended family) unfollow you on social media because they say you post too much, you’ll get hate mail, you’ll have people say that you should move on to something different, you’ll be reviewed online with less than stellar reviews, you’ll take complaints, and you’ll be absolutely hung by your ankles by people who attended your speaking engagement and said the best part about your speech was your shoes. Yes. This is just a piece of what I’ve experienced as an author. And this isn’t even the worst part. As an author in the public eye, you’re subjecting yourself to all of this and more. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. But, you have a choice to either take what these people say, believe it and get out of the game forever, or you can keep going, keep improving, and keep living life on your terms. Let’s face it, the only people who are going to discourage you from living your dream, are the people who gave up on theirs.
You lack discipline. You’re late, or you miss deadlines, or you aren’t writing every single day of your life, or aren’t willing to do late nights and early mornings, being an author is something you should seriously reconsider. Authors, I would like to think, are some of the most disciplined people on the planet. We do the things we have to do before doing the things that we want to do. Would I rather be outside or poolside, or on vacation, or reading a book instead of writing one? Sure, but there are things that need to be done before any of the other things can take place. A quote that I have hanging on the wall above my desk reads, “You will not always be motivated, so you must learn to be disciplined.” This keeps me in check and reminds me that even though I don’t feel like writing, editing, working, running my business today, or whatever it may be, that I’m going to anyway no matter how I feel.
You are horribly shy and/or unwilling to interact with the public. People don’t buy your book, they buy you. Your success is hugely influenced by the way that you interact with the public. If you’re at a book signing and you think that you’re going to sit in the chair behind the table with a stack of books, with hands folded in front of you, waiting patiently for people to line up to see you, you’ve got another thing coming. YOU ARE NOT STEPHEN KING AND NO ONE IS HERE TO SEE YOU. Read that again and if you’re offended by that, send me some hate mail, or re-read number 3 on this list and get over yourself. You have to hustle, you have to interact, and you genuinely have to be interested in your readers. You have to get out there, approach them, and tell them about yourself and your work. If you’re not willing to do this, find another career because you’ll never cut it.
Are you one of the people who shouldn’t be an author? I hope not, but if so, remember that it’s never too late to change. X LLB
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