5 Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Published My First Book

The day I hit “publish” on a book for the first time changed my life. It was the culmination of two decades of dreaming, practicing, and waiting. I was elated – and terrified.

Nothing is quite like putting your work out into the world for the first time, and I wouldn’t change my path for anything. But there are some tips I would give to anyone just starting out.

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Your First Book

1. The first book is a huge step, but it isn’t as big as you think in the grand scheme of things.

You can’t rest on your laurels as soon as you publish for the first time. In fact, you kind of need to be doing the opposite. You need to promote it, blog about it, and get reviews. And whether it’s a standalone or part of a series, you need to start writing the next book.

Almost no one makes it big from one book. Don’t lose your momentum, because you’re going to need it.

2. You don’t have to publish all in one genre, but if you’re going to go multi-, there needs to be a thread.

I made this mistake early on. When I first started publishing, I was a horror writer. My first published book was a collection of horror and dark speculative short stories. I went from that to suspense, romance, and even science fiction.

The problem was not that I published in too many genres. The real issue? There was no common thread.

When I finally realized that the common thread between my suspense, romance, and sci-fi was a strong female protagonist who loved other women, I knew what I had to do. I had to cut my horror loose and revive an old pseudonym.

Publish anything you want; just be sure that what you put out there is all on-brand.

3. No one cares that you published a book.

Of course you care. And your other writer friends probably care. Other people in your life – family and friends – they might care, too. But the rest of the world does not.

Don’t spend all your energy telling people to buy your book. Don’t tell people that it’s the best book they will ever read. And please, for the love of the writing muses, don’t get a big head and start putting other writers down. It’s not worth it, and it just makes you look bad.

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4. Publishing a book gives you instant credibility.

I know, after #3, you’re probably not expecting this one, but hear me out.

Ever wanted to talk to other writers about what you write about? Having a book out gives you credibility and makes others want to hear what you have to say.

After all, you’ve already been there. You’ve done the research, put in the hours, and pulled the trigger.

Use your experience and your brain to share your message, whatever it is, with your audience.

5. The most important thing to do is keep writing.

Unless your plan was to publish a book just to say you had, you’re going to need to keep going. Like I said before, the best way to make a name for yourself in the book world is to keep writing.

Write and edit another book. Get a couple more sets of eyes on it. Polish it until it shines. Then get that one out there to join the first, and start building your empire.

Your Turn

Next month, I’m going to give you a list of the best stories I read this month. While I have some in mind, I thought I would open the floor to you.

What stories should I read? Which ones gave you a thrill or left you thinking about them hours or days later?


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