There is so much to learn as a writer, but fortunately we can gain insight from those generous authors who have gone before us. Sarah Sommer, author of picture books Animals at the Office and The Goose on the Roof, shares her thoughts on writing and marketing.
5 Mantras to Get You Through Your First Few Books
By Sarah Sommer
- Your goal is not to please everyone. Write your story, not the story that you think will accommodate everyone or fit a current trend. There will always be critics. Readers want to hear your authentic story. It might not be their cup of tea, but that doesn’t make it a bad story. Consider your talents, interests, and perspectives that can make your story unique and powerful. I write about animals using rhymes- I accept that not everyone will seek out my book, but I view this targeted theme as what makes my writing special.
- You are allowed to change your mind. It’s perfectly acceptable to decide at the last minute to update some text or to change your book summary for the website after the book has launched. The decisions you make throughout the process are bountiful and can be very impactful to readers. While you want to be confident and stand by your decisions, allow yourself to step back and re-evaluate as you learn new information and gain additional insight. I have changed character genders and written text well into the process because it makes more sense or feels more natural.
- Take your critiques from those that you trust. As easy as it might be to ask a close friend or family member to review your work, they might be biased to favor your work or might not have experience in the publishing world to understand reader expectations. Getting constructive feedback can be really important in your process of creating a great book, but you want to make sure it’s from a good source so that you don’t waste any time or emotions on comments that aren’t helpful. I prefer to seek out feedback from experienced editors on freelance websites so there will be less personal bias and more relevant experience.
- Accept that mistakes will happen and things won’t go as planned. Weeks before my second book launched, I received a bulk order (costing a hefty amount) that was bound incorrectly, meaning I didn’t have any books to sell. Thankfully, I was able to convince the printer to quickly reprocess the order, but it gave me quite the scare. There are a number of things that can go wrong along the way with regard to printing, launching, and marketing your books. Forgive yourself and take action to remedy the situation. Allow yourself to vent, breathe, and move forward toward a solution. It happens.
- Always write down your ideas. Be prepared for ideas to strike you at random moments- while driving, during a conversation with friends, or right before bed. Write down these ideas so that you don’t forget them and to allow yourself to have a starting point for when you finally sit down to work on these ideas. This concept isn’t limited to storyline topics either- you might get a great marketing idea while catching up with a friend. I like to jot down ideas in the memo section of my phone or on a specific piece of paper I keep in my calendar so that they are in one place when I am ready to begin taking action.
Some wonderful advice, thanks Sarah! Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring writers? Leave a comment, we’d love to hear your thoughts.
For more information about Sarah Sommer’s picture books, Animals at the Office and The Goose on the Roof, visit Blog Post + Giveaway: Animals at the Office and enter for your chance to WIN a copy of both books and a $50 Amazon Gift Card. Good luck!