May 8th, 2019 marks the fifth year of my career as a published author and I wanted to share a bit about my journey for those who might be interested. It has come with ups and downs, as any career path does. It’s also given me a strong sense of purpose. I know it’s exactly what I’m supposed to be doing, but that wasn’t always the case…
Writing is what I need to do. What I’ve always done and I’ll always be doing as long as I’m able.
Publishing is what I’m grateful to be able to do, but also something I didn’t think I’d be lucky enough to accomplish.
I’ve been standing in front of the path to being a published author since I was a young girl with the dream of writing and sharing my stories.
Back then, there was only one viable path to venture down if you wanted to be a published author. Traditional Publishing.
At the end of this traditionally published path, I saw the authors I enjoyed, admired, and aspired to be like. Their lives seemed glamorous, and the very process of writing still carried illusions of grandeur for me at that time.
From the very beginning, the possibility of fulfilling my dream of publishing had seemed small. Others always described the treacherous path ahead that awaited me if I dared to try.
The odds of an agent choosing to represent my work were slim, and that agent going on to sell my work to a publisher was no guarantee, even if I got that far. The thorns of rejection letters, and the twisted vines of all publishing gatekeepers that appeared to block the way were more than daunting. It made the path to achieving my dream seem so impossible, I didn’t see the use in trying.
In my teen years, my love of writing continued, and I studied the craft of storytelling using any reading materials I could find. It was then I learned more about the process of writing a book, and those previous illusions transformed into a reality of steady drips of hard work accompanied by drops of self-doubt.
Could I ever learn enough to write a book worth reading? Could I ever be talented and skilled enough to be chosen by an agent or publisher?
I also educated myself on the process of publishing, and even with my new understanding of the process, that path remained as daunting and unlikely as it ever had to me. When it came time to choose my career path, for fear of not being good enough, lucky enough, or just enough, I took what seemed to be a more practical route away from writing and publishing. I went to college for a TV Broadcasting program, but never truly gave up on my dream.
After college, I wrote my first, full-length story as an adult, and my passion reignited. I knew I needed to improve, so I invested more time in writing and learning. I wrote another story that I desperately wanted to share with readers. I hoped for the chance to give them the same gifts the stories I loved had given me: an escape, friends in the form of characters whose stories I felt I’d lived right along with them, and a new perspective of the world, my choices, and my beliefs.
This time, when I approached the path to becoming a published author, a second path lay ahead. Self-publishing (or independent publishing).
Here, down this new path, I saw the possibility to share my stories with readers on my own terms.
The path had a steeper incline ahead with peaks and valleys, and most parts were to be traveled alone. The path was worn, but not paved. There were rough patches, yes, but no check points set in stone. No gatekeepers to decide if your story was worthy of the masses. At the end of this path, the readers would make that decision on their own.
Ahead, there was so much to learn, all within my control, and most of all, it was possible. Writers who had traveled ahead of me proved it, lighting torches and leaving them to guide the way. Many of the generous indie authors even came back to help anyone who wanted to venture down this new and exciting path.
Those trail blazers created the amazing indie book community that I am proud to be part of, but I’ve told this story not for the purpose of examining the roads ahead, but because every author has to walk their own path, whichever they choose, again and again. The path of indie publishing allows us to travel it as often as the writer would like.
Each time, the journey becomes more familiar. Each time, there are new changes and opportunities along the way to learn more. To grow as a writer and publisher. To become more skilled at navigating the path, flexible enough to make a change in direction when needed, and brave enough to finish the journey, despite the obstacles.
I’m so grateful for the opportunity I had to travel down the path that first time 5 years ago, and 10 times since then to publish my stories. For the ability to make them available to readers in many ways, new and old, and build that connection with them that I craved from the start as a young girl. I’m grateful for these opportunities and possibilities.
The valleys on this path can be low, but the peaks are higher.
Some low points include being taken advantage of by freelance editors who didn’t put forth the effort and quality promised. Finding reliable and quality freelance creatives can be a challenge, but it’s made me appreciate the great ones I’ve worked with even more. Receiving harsh critiques or reviews (truthful or not, helpful or not) not only encouraged me to grow a thicker skin, but to become more open-minded about the ways I can improve. There’s also a kind of isolation that comes along with this career path that is not well understood by those who haven’t traveled it. Thankfully, the author friends I’ve made can relate, and we can work independently while knowing we are not alone in our struggles, feelings, and goals.
Just some of the high points include getting to be a signing author at my favourite bookstore (multiple times), one pair of my grandparents and my great aunt getting to hold books dedicated to them in their hands, meeting so many amazing author/reader/blogger/book community friends that have become like old friends, holding my first published novel in my hands, attending my first signing in a different city with my best friend, donating a portion of the profits of a featured book of mine to a mental health organization I believe in, and having a young girl who wanted to be a writer herself ask me for a picture together at my first signing. It was a full circle moment I’ll never forget.
I’m thankful for my supportive and loving friends and family who encouraged me, helped me, and believed in me from the start.
To those who didn’t, thanks for keeping that to yourself.
I’m not sure how I’d have handled negativity regarding my career path at the time. Although it wouldn’t have stopped me, I may not have had the insight and emotional intelligence I’ve continued to build upon to understand that it would say more about that person and their perceived limits than mine.
To my readers, my true-blue readers, you’re amazing. You honestly amaze me.
Your support, loyalty, and company has been the best component of my dream, fulfilled. While reading my books, you spend your time, a precious commodity that I understand the value of more with age. Through sharing my books and your thoughts on them with others, you are creating even more connections, something we humans cherish beyond measure.
As I sit here at my desk, five years later, I’m thinking of all the drips of hard work, sleepless nights, tight budgets, books upon books, classes upon courses of writing lessons, and drops of self-doubt, imposer-syndrome, and criticism I experience while writing my stories and publishing them for you to read, I’m grateful for the steady flow of rain.
I revisited this dream of being an author over and over again throughout my life, and I’m so glad I never let go.
Maybe there is something in your life that you’re passionate about. Something you haven’t done yet because you don’t think it’s possible… But you haven’t let go of it, either.
You might ask yourself if you have what it takes or you might have already resolved yourself to the belief that you don’t, in fact, have enough of whatever it takes to accomplish that dream.
Do it anyway. Try anyway and keep trying. You are worthy of love and belonging.
Maybe you’ll get exactly what you wanted. Maybe you’ll get even more. Maybe you’ll get something you didn’t even know you needed, instead.
But you won’t fail if you keep trying. You’ll grow and learn, and enjoy spending time doing what you’re passionate about.
You won’t regret not taking the chance to show up for something you want.
To love, support, family, friends, husband, readers, communities, trail blazers, creativity, courage, and the unknown that keeps me going, that lets me accomplish my dreams, that lets me share my stories, that lets those drips of hard work and drops of self-doubt rain down on me.
Here’s to the next five years.
I hope it pours.
Stay curious, and until next time, take care.
5 Year Celebration Giveaway
Celebrate Emerald’s publishing anniversary and enter to win one of 3 prizes.
The grand prize winner will receive a signed paperback copy of their choice from Emerald’s published novels, a $25 Amazon gift card, and personal message from Emerald.
2 winners will receive a $10 Amazon gift card each, plus one of Emerald’s ebooks of their choice.
2 ways to enter…
If you came to this blog post via Emerald’s newsletter, please reply back to that email and let us know either: when you first found Emerald’s books OR which of her books is your favourite.
If you found this post via any other method, please use the contact form here to let us know either: when you first found Emerald’s books OR which of her books is your favourite.
Get your entries in by May 12th for your chance to win!
Winners will be contacted on May 13th.