This post is a special letter to the Me of 2011 as part of Carrie A. Butler's project, HOW I FOUND THE WRITE PATH. You can find this letter among 60 others in the FREE ebook, HOW I FOUND THE WRITE PATH on Amazon.
Dear Stephanie of 2011,
Hi! It's me, Stephanie of 2014. I know, I know. Don't freak out. Time travel is still not possible, but with the wonders of the internet, I am able to look back in time and see what these last three years have done to you. Remember that day when you decided to write for real? And then you went on Twitter and told everyone you were going to write FOR REAL? Yeah? That was a good decision. Really. I'm super proud of you for finally hiking up your big girl pants and doing the thing you wanted to do for over a decade. You struggled for months over whether to go back to work or not. Being a full-time mom was fulfilling, but it just wasn't enough.
Getting back to writing was the best decision you ever made. Sure, you sucked in the beginning. And your first three or four (maybe even five) drafts of REMOVED were awful. But you stuck with it. You learned how to revise. You learned over the course of three books how to take criticism, how to show not tell, how ditch passive voice, and how to actually publish books. You published your own books instead of waiting around for agents and editors to do it for you! Congratulations!
You know what was really hard to learn? You will not be an overnight sensation. Nope. Three years later, you can't even call yourself a best seller… or even a good seller… barely a decent seller (let's come back to this in three years again, okay? There's room for improvement). You had ideas of making it big like most people do, and that's still possible, but it's going to take a really long time. What you can say for yourself is that you're a hard worker with lots of great ideas. There are LOTS of books in you. More than the one idea you started off with! And ALL of those books are going to carry you far.
One thing you didn't know in the beginning about the publishing industry is that your backlist is everything. Sure some lucky authors do well on the first book, but for you, you'll start selling more books when you write and publish more books. In 2014, you're starting to feel the momentum, and this is typical of mid-list authors, which is where you are comfortable. By the end of 2014, things could be really good. Keep your fingers crossed.
Guess what? You hated all those writing resources, but it turns out you really only need the EMOTION THESAURUS. God, that book is great. Don't leave home without it. And thank your lucky stars you found WRITE. PUBLISH. REPEAT. because it completely changed your life. Completely. This was THE BOOK that turned things around for you and made you incredibly glad to be a self-publisher. Because, look, you never regretted self-publishing. Not once. Not ever. You never looked at your friends struggling to find an agent and thought, “I wish I had done that.” You never once looked at your friends fumbling over contracts or waking up one day to find their publisher out of business and thought, “I wish I had done that.” Nope. It's hard doing it all by yourself, but you can count on being responsible. You're smart. You're strong. You can keep going when others can not.
Oh, one last thing. Next time you want to write a series, write it all ahead of time, okay? Getting three books written out of four was really good. A valiant effort. All four books would have been epic. Then you could have released them all in quick succession while working on other projects. If I could tell this to all writers, I would. Otherwise, you're doing a great job. Keep up the good work.
xoxo, Stephanie of 2014.
P.S. A year ago today you finished the first draft of FACE TIME, and it's already in readers' hands getting great reviews. See? Hard work = Success.