A year ago today, I had my launch party for my self-published novel, Last Look Back. The book was published a month before, but November 14th is what I consider to be the official publication day. It’s the day when everything started. And when everything ended. I was no longer a novice with dreams of being published. I was now a published author with sales to generate and people to read my book. If you’ve been following my blog since this time last year, you will be aware of my up and down journey with the self-publishing industry How my sales have been minuscule and my morale has gone lower than that. It forced me to consider whether writing was the right career for me and whether I was good enough to call myself a writer. The book’s not selling so that must mean it’s no good which also must mean my writing is no good. I’m telling you, my pity spiral was intense. I didn’t give up writing entirely (it’s too much apart of my soul to do that) but I was ready to wipe my hands clean of getting published ever again.
And then I found out about Writer’s Digest Self-published Book Awards. I can’t remember if I spoke about it on my blog or not, but earlier this year, I entered. I think it may have been one of those last ditch efforts to see if my book was good or not. Last month, I found out I didn’t win. I was so used to disappointment by then that it didn’t seem to matter. Depressing, I know. Yesterday, and this is when it gets to the good part, I got an email that read: Your 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Writing Competition brief judges commentary. It was the comments from the judge who’d read my book. I immediately exited out of the tab my email was on. I was thinking, Yes, I know my book was bad, I’m not ready to hear you say it though.
I stepped back and saw how ridiculous I was being and told myself, Be a big girl, read the dang email and get it over with. You want to know what happened? I didn’t die. Criticism is hard. We know that, but it’s not going to kill you and the comments my judge had were really helpful. The judge pointed out some of the mistakes I’d made, mistakes that I’d call rookie mistakes. Rookie mistake should’ve been expected since Last Look Back was the first book I’d published and I shouldn’t have been beating myself up over how good or bad it was since it was only my first book. I can be my own worst critic. Here we have someone who is reading my book objectively and they aren’t nearly as mean as I’m being about it.
I’m not going to share everything, but I do want to include one little snippet. Mostly, so I can look back at this when I’m feeling down.
The judge wrote:
Suggestions: Study editing and punctuation or hire a good editor. Get a great book on self-editing to cut costs on paying for an editor. Attend writing workshops and conferences where classes for these writing skills are common…Wonderful talent shining through. This writer needs to keep writing!
–Judge, 23rd Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards
To hear my book is good from someone that knows me is one thing, but to hear that my book even vaguely has some sort of potential from someone who doesn’t know me except for some words on a page is something else entirely.This person knows nothing about me except for the pages I sent in and for them to say I have talent, the book doesn’t entirely suck (my words, not theirs), you need to keep writing, and on top of that, to give me tips on how to move forward, was exactly what I needed to hear. I have direction. I have something that I can do to actively get better. I used to think I was an idiot for trying to self-publish so soon, but now I see that everything needed to happen exactly as they did, so I could get here. This year has been one of the most difficult years I’ve experienced, but it all worked out because I’m still here with a story to share with you and a plan for the future. For that I am grateful and because of that, I wouldn’t change a thing.
Until next time,