Lessons Learned From 11 Years As An Author Entrepreneur

From The Creative Penn:

(Almost) eleven years ago, in Sept 2011, I left my day job to become a full-time author-entrepreneur. Every year since I have reflected on the journey and what I learn along the way.

My challenges change and grow along with the business and you will likely be at a different stage, but I hope that you find my lessons learned useful along your own author path.

You can read all my lessons learned from previous years on my timeline so far – and remember, just like everyone else, I started out by writing my first book with no audience!

But with time and continued effort, everything is possible.

(1) It can take a long time to figure out what you think about a topic — but writing a book can help!

I finally finished and published How to Write a Novel in July 2022 after starting with an initial draft in 2016. It has taken me that long to figure out my thoughts and also to feel confident enough in my craft to publish a book on the topic.

I was only able to write it because I rewrote my first three novels in early 2022, and that exercise proved to myself that I know what I am talking about.

There is often an emphasis on writing and publishing fast in the indie author community. But some books take time to mature, and are all the better for waiting until you feel the book is ready to emerge.

Long-term listeners/readers know I have been talking about ‘the shadow book’ for years now, and that is a similar project. I have 30K words and I even had a cover ready, but I don’t know when it will be ready.

As I discuss in How to Write a Novel, I am a discovery writer. I follow the urging of the Muse. Once I settle on a book, I follow one of Heinlein’s Rules — I finish what I start — so ‘the shadow book’ will arrive at some point, but I still don’t know when.

I need to have some patience and give it time to emerge. Perhaps you have a book that’s similar? Maybe you also need to let it breathe and emerge when it’s ready.

(2) Physical sickness and mental health issues can have a bigger impact than expected 

The pandemic has taken its toll on all of us in different ways and of course, COVID19 is still with us. These days we are learning to live with it, but most of us have had it, or know people who have had it, to varying degrees of severity.

I had the delta variant back in July 2021 and I talked about how much it impacted me in my 2021 round-up, Not Quite the Year We Hoped For, so I won’t go into too much detail here. 

Suffice to say, I was much sicker than I expected — both physically and mentally — and it had a bigger impact on my life and business than I expected. I’ve never really been properly sick, so it was a wake-up call in terms of the impact. Some days I could only do one or two things per day and didn’t have as much time as I used to. I had to rest a lot, and my productivity was way down. 

. . . .

I also found the mental health side of it difficult, in terms of impacting my capacity for work, and also my tolerance for much else other than the basics.

My income dropped as I didn’t write or publish as much. I also stopped doing a lot of the affiliate stuff I was doing, as well as archiving many of my tutorials. I couldn’t find the energy or the will to redo older things.

. . . .

(4) If you can’t take time out for life events and goals after more than a decade running your own business, you’re doing something wrong! 

This is my last podcast for a few weeks as I am heading off to walk my Camino pilgrimage from Porto to Santiago de Compostela.

This has been a personal goal for decades and when I lay in bed really sick with Covid, I listened to audiobooks of people walking it, and promised I would walk it once I recovered. Walking the Camino is the one thing that I would be annoyed about not doing if I died right now, so it’s time to go do it!

. . . .

After more than a decade, I still feel that I need to be checking in with the business every day, but that is my own addiction, not a true requirement. No one will die if I don’t respond to an email or a comment, plus I have my wonderful virtual assistant, Alexandra, who will be managing things while I am walking.

I want to take more breaks and perhaps even a longer break in the coming year. To recharge and focus on other creative and life goals, and also to think about the bigger topics that impact all of us as technology continues to change and our business models shift.

Link to the rest at The Creative Penn