The 18 Things I Learned, Failing at Self Publishing

In 2011 I made the decision to self publish my novel to a resounding failure. What went wrong, what could I have done better, and what did I learn along the way?
  1. Self-doubt is real- In the immediate aftermath of failing at any dream, your mind will reel with self-doubt. A lot of negative thoughts will hit you at once and you’ll find yourself wanting to give up. Don’t do it.
  2. Ignore the Comments- Not everyone is going to like your work and the reasons why are often personal– in the words of RuPaul, what other people think of me is none of my business… use this to your advantage.
  3. Perfectionism is a fool’s errand- Perfectionism is this shiny little notion that you can create something universally beloved, yet even things that are loved by tons of people, have haters. Nothing is universal. There are things I have disliked or (won’t even try to read/watch) simply because EVERYONE is obsessed with it and I just get sick of hearing about it. It’s not personal, people just have different tastes.
  4. Marketing is imperative (readers won’t just find you)- Just because you wrote an amazing book, doesn’t mean readers will just magically flock to it. Word of mouth is a great promotional tool, but you can’t depend solely on your friends telling other friends and hoping everything will just fall into place. Sometimes you have to be willing to put yourself out there more. There are plenty of writing blogs that feature other authors, magazines to publish essays or excerpts, Facebook groups, and forums to show off your work. Use these tools to grow your brand and get people to find you.
  5. Utilize your social media –  I have a confession, I kind of hate social media most of the time. But I use it because it’s the way in which you get your message to a wider audience. Hashtags are your friend; a lot of writers aren’t the biggest fans of social media, but if you’ve managed to cultivate some type of platform, it might be a good idea to keep that going and use it to your advantage- if you’re not sure how to do to something do your research (but more on that later).
  6. If you don’t like it, why should anyone else? – I didn’t really like the version of the novel that I actually self published. But I was so sick of editing and re-writing that I just thought, screw it, and went with it anyway. Sure there were some who loved it, but my not loving it made me weary to even try to promote it and ultimately it just died in limbo because of it.
  7. RESEARCH RESEARCH RESEARCH- There is admittedly, a learning curve to publishing yourself, from marketing, to what your process should be, where to go and what editor/designer you should contact to help you. Research is 100% necessary. The great thing about the internet is anything can be found at any time and about any subject. If you have questions, chances are you’re not alone. Google is your friend; if someone you trust talks about someone they went to for an editing service maybe look into it.
  8. Conflicting Advice- The negative to the above approach is of course, that not everyone will agree on what is and isn’t the right way to go when it comes to self publishing– so you may need to try and find a consensus or check the pros and cons for yourself. Not everyone’s journey will apply to you and that’s okay.
  9. If you look at it as a last resort, that’s not the best attitude to approach it with– One big mistake I made, was looking at self publishing as sort of a… well everything else failed, what have I got to lose? mentality. Going into self publishing with a defeated attitude almost guarantees it’s not going to go well. Why would it? It goes back to point 6. If I don’t like it, why should anyone else?
  10. Success is how you define it and it takes time- Patience is a virtue that I don’t often have. Especially when it comes to my work. I’ve worked hard for over a decade to get to where I am today, but my successes thus far don’t look quite how I’d imagined them in my youth. But that’s okay. That doesn’t minimize my success. It’s important to be able to recognize that it takes time and ultimately it’s okay to re-evaluate what you consider to be success.
  11. Don’t compare yourself to others, their road is not your road- Around the time of my self publishing journey, a good friend I’d met through blogging was also self publishing her novel. She had randomly decided to write it out of boredom and self published it to a considerable amount of success roughly six months to a year later. I was happy for her, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little bit jealous at the time. I had been working for years, how could she just swoop in and be great? The problem is, her path isn’t my path, and my path isn’t hers. She put in the work. She joined a writing group, made friends with bookstores, and actively campaigned to get her book into spaces where I just sort of hummed about it. She was successful because even though I had been working longer, she worked smarter. Success isn’t about how long you do something it’s about doing it well, and putting in the effort and not being afraid to take chances.
  12. The worst someone can say is no- There’s a good chance you’ll hear this a lot if you’ve been in writing for any length of time. I’ve been rejected by multiple agents, multiple times, and though it can be difficult to hear, it’s good practice for other avenues where you may hear no a lot. It’s okay. If a bookstore doesn’t want to put your book up that’s okay. If someone doesn’t want to host a signing or write a review, that’s not the end of the world. It never hurts to ask.
  13. Leverage your contacts- I happen to be friends with an amazing artist, so when I decided to self publish I decided to ask her for her help in creating the cover art. I was also friends with a brilliant editor who was able to edit my book too. Ask around, and leverage whatever contacts you find… self publishing can be pricey and if you have a friend who is willing to help you for a more modest fee or even for a returned favor, it’s a good idea to utilize this.
  14. Don’t let one failed book stop you- It’s easy to be intimidated by the failure. There’s a part of you that feels like this is a sign, maybe I’m not cut out for this/meant to do this, but don’t let one failure stop you from your dreams. As J.K.Rowling pointed out, failure is inevitable. 
  15. Invest in yourself and in your work- If you’re lucky enough to have any kind of financial success put no less than 50% back into your work, into marketing, blog ads, Facebook ads, Instagram whatever you can afford. The more you market the book the better your success, your earnings should go to your work more than you.
  16. You can’t know everything- Even if you do everything right, or think you did, failure still is apart of life. It’s better to have failed than not to have ever tried.
  17. LEARN- You may not succeed the way you think you ought to. Learn from it. What went wrong? How can you do better? Every mistake, every misstep is a possibility for learning and success in the future.
  18. Bonus: Two things… you can submit your book to Publishers Weekly for review before it comes out– also through KDP and CreateSpace you can create a pre-order for your book up to 3 weeks before launch, and create buzz for your project.
At the time, I thought I was doing everything right. I thought I was making the right decisions, and following the path to success, but in hindsight I can see that there was a lot I got wrong, and a lot I’ve learned since. Failure is still always a possibility, but only if you don’t learn from your mistakes.

The Elusive Work/Life Balance

I’ve been down this road before, so much so that I find its rocky terrain almost comforting. For as long as I have been a creative person I have struggled to find that ever so elusive, work-life balance. But how do you find balance when you’re working to ultimately provide a better life for yourself?

A few months ago, when I first became a supervisor, I was asked to come up with a professional development presentation on a topic of my choosing, and given this was an area I felt I needed the most help with, I decided to do it on the importance of achieving a good work-life balance. I read articles, did research, found information relating to why it’s essential to mental health and helps avoid the creative hell that is burnout, and then proceeded to go back to work and utilize none of the information I had gathered.

Over the past few months since I started doing YouTube I’ve noticed a familiar trend emerging. My boyfriend will message me to ask me a question or just to talk, and I’ll have to inform him that I’m filming a video for YouTube right now and therefore can’t. Even my novel has had to take a back seat to my filming videos for YouTube. Inevitably I find myself feeling guilty for these lapses in helping people or getting back to people; but then if I’m not filming or writing, I end up feeling guilty for not working hard enough, and thus the endless cycle spins on.

Why don’t I create a schedule? This seems like the obvious solution to my problems, and arguably the best advice you see given to writers time and time again. It’s something I’ve certainly been working towards more and more. I tend to try and vlog Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays. Leaving me Mon, Tues, Thurs, and Friday to do everything else, though I’m sure I don’t need to film even this much. I generally record about 2-3 videos per sitting so if I recorded Saturdays (for the week) spent Sunday after work editing and pre-scheduling for the rest of the week I would have Mon-Fri to work on other projects (eg: writing more and blogging more).

I seem to get the most creative work done after about five or six so if I were to work from say, 6-12 (when I usually go to bed) that offers me at least 6 hours to write. Assuming I spent half of that time writing blog posts and half of that time writing my novel I would actually get quite a bit accomplished in a relatively short amount of time, and I wouldn’t even have to do so daily. Leaving me time to read, work on design projects, branding further, etc.

This all sounds great on paper. It also sounds great on paper that theoretically my current job offers me the opportunity (most times) to do more creative work in between what I do on a day to day basis, and yet, it doesn’t always work out that way. None of this is to say I won’t be actively working more on finding a balance, and making time to schedule my work better, but a key change that I have to factor in isn’t just in scheduling my life more, but also in actively allowing myself the freedom not to write, not to film, not to work constantly. 

It’s easy to say, x, y, and z will offer you a better work-life balance, but putting it into practice in a meaningful way is where I really feel like I need to do more. Because frankly, I’m tired of feeling guilty for both working too much and not working enough.

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The Pressure to Create

Increasingly I have seen the advice that one ought to write every day, in order to be a serious writer. In which case, not only have I never been a serious writer, any hope of that as of late is completely out the window. Only, that isn’t exactly true. Anyone who has followed this blog for any length of time can attest to the fact that I have been writing at least since I was 10 years old, and even then I took it very seriously. Yet here again I find myself, not writing. For a rather prolonged period of time now, I have written nothing new, save for a few blog posts and some script notes for vlogs, and honestly, it’s maddening. Somewhere in my head, I know that I’ve been here before, and I’m trying to be patient with myself. To take it easy, and trust that when it is time for me to write again, I will. But of course, my lack of writing has driven me into an all too familiar existential crisis. What am I, who am I, if not a writer?
 
Of course, that’s a silly question. You’re never not a writer. The urge to write never truly goes away. Even if the muse does disappear for a moment. It always returns. Even now I am writing something, it’s just not the something I feel I ought to be writing. Which of course, isn’t how any of this works, yet still I try to bend the Universe to my will, hoping, praying, that somehow it will give me what I want. As if overthinking, overanalyzing, and overstressing about not writing has ever produced more work from anyone.
I’ve always put pressure on myself to work harder, do more, write more, be better, and though to some these are signs of a ‘good work ethic’ it leads to the problems I now find myself in. Burnout. You become so exhausted from doing so much and never giving yourself time to rest and recharge that you find yourself doing not much of anything at all.
Except that I am doing something, and that scares me a little bit. Because if I’m vlogging, more than I am writing, what happens to my life as a writer? Can I ever go back, or am I simply now, someone who does YouTube, no longer a writer, barely a person who can find themselves creating a proper sentence anymore. It’s hard to complain. This was my decision after all, and if I honestly believed YouTube is the reason I’m not writing, shouldn’t I stop? Wouldn’t I stop?
The trouble is, I’ve been here before. Each time feels more and more like the end, and yet, I can’t help but hold out a sliver of hope, that each time, as before, I will eventually get back to work.

17 Unexpected Things You Learn from Doing YouTube

When I started creating content for YouTube earlier this year, I didn’t really know what I might get from it, or what to expect from the experience. I knew that I wanted to challenge myself to do something different, and originally I didn’t expect to make more than one or two videos. Along the way, I’ve learned a couple of things that new YouTubers or people considering doing YouTube might want to know.
  1. Time=Content

    We spend a lot of time doing things that aren’t creating content in our daily lives. Some of that time is prepping for creating content and that’s time we could be devoting to more content. Which is why GRWMs are such a big part of my YouTube life.

  2. Time Management

    Not surprisingly all of this has also taught me better time management skills. If Time=Content,  any time you’re spending not creating content is time wasted unless it’s watching other YouTube videos because then it’s research.

  3. Celebrate the Little things

    Success is what you make of it, but celebrating the small victories and successes (like your first 13 followers or your first 20 or 100) is important. It’s all amazing, people want to watch you and hear what you have to say, and I’m eager to celebrate all of that, as much as possible.

  4. Don’t Engage in Negative Comments

    Technically this is something I learned long before starting with YouTube but I definitely feel as though now that I’m more active on YouTube, and as my channel continues to grow it’s going to be necessary more and more not to engage with negative comments. As mama Ru would say: What other people think of me is none of my business.

  5. Authenticity Speaks volumes

    This is an obvious one, and another one I knew before YouTube but one thing you can definitely tell is when someone isn’t being genuine. I knew fairly early on that Valentina (season 9 of RuPaul’s Drag Race) wasn’t genuine, and though a lot of people seemed to love her, recent incidents have proven that her attitude on the show was fake. It’s easy to want to put on a good public face to make yourself seem better than you really are, but if the rise of YouTube drama channels (and call outs from other channels about drama channel creators) proves anything it’s that the fake-shit comes out real quick.

  6. Better communication

    For someone who does YouTube, runs a podcast, and writes as a part of my career future, it’s kind of ironic how bad I can be at communication. Particularly personal communication. I think it’s largely a Virgo thing, but something about me is that I struggle to be open about things for one reason or another.

  7. It’s cathartic

    Not too long ago I had a serious dysphoric incident… I decided rather than sit and wallow, I would start filming and try and work through this, if for no other reason than to document it, and to share my struggle with others– I never did post it, but it ended up being very cathartic for me.

  8. It’s fun

    Along with being at times cathartic YouTube is surprisingly fun. Well, filming is. There’s something about getting in front of the camera and sharing your thoughts and what’s going on that is actually fun. But like writing, the editing is… tedious.

  9. Don’t take yourself too seriously

    Some of the best YouTubers are known for being a little out there, it’s relatable because that’s life. We’re not perfect, and if you take yourself so seriously you put yourself in a position where you can’t really have fun, and you can’t just be yourself and that can be limiting. It goes back to the conversation too about authenticity. If you’re reserved people can see that.

  10. You don’t need fancy equipment

    The alluring siren song of Canon cameras and ring lights can be hard to resist for a YouTuber starting out but you don’t need it to start. If you have an iPhone you’re already off to a great start. The back camera can film up to 4k, but you can create some great stuff with 1080p at 60 FPS. For lighting, add two lamps with LED bulbs and place them on either side of the camera, have at least two more overhead lights to really brighten up the room as much as possible (or substitute natural light if that’s more your speed) and you’ll have beautiful videos.

  11. Pace yourself

    I have a tendency to jump into things 110% out of the gate, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but one of the things I realized is that actually it can be detrimental in terms of long term success. It’s great to want to put up 5 vids in a week, but it can also be exhausting, so pace yourself. If you have the time and energy to keep it up great, if you don’t, create a more sensible schedule or you risk burnout which is a nightmare in any creative context.

  12. Find your niche and fill it

    It’s a business 101 strategy, find what you’re good at, preferably something few others are doing and fill it. And if everyone else is doing it. Then find a way to do it better. Chances are good that there’s something unique about you that makes you stand out better than the next person. YouTubers are a dime-a-dozen. But what I offer is a YouTuber, writer, and graphic designer who also records a podcast and can mix some music together, in a way that is uniquely me. No one can do everything, but I can do a lot of things, and very well, if you can do something well and you can offer that to people in some form you’re going to be at a better advantage to succeed than someone who can’t.

  13. It’s Rewarding if you let it

    The good comments often out weigh the bad and it’s so cool hearing people who enjoy what you do. It isn’t necessarily about material rewards either, sure there’s monetization which can be great if you’re lucky enough to hit it big, but it’s the interactions. The communication with people who are loving what you do, who support you and maybe that you can even help.

  14. Use social media to your advantage 

    The social media platform you’ve already built can be very helpful in succeeding with YouTube. I learned through analytics that about 30% of my viewership comes from Instagram. So I make sure to share links to my vids through Instagram and tag the shit out of them. Marketing is your friend.

  15. Take analytics with a grain of salt

    Analytics are a good way to drive yourself into a panic attack, particularly if you’re someone already prone to such things, or are a perfectionist; they can be beneficial like figuring out who are the majority of people watching your content, for how long, their age range and even where they come from, but take it with a grain of salt. I’ve gotten 2 views on a video just from putting in cards, and end screen info for them, and a girlfriend of mine and fellow YouTuber has told me that the analytics vary greatly from the phone app to computer app.

  16. Don’t let analytics determine your content

    If you have subscribers, you have them because of staying true to your vision. A lot of people try and follow the ‘scientific’ seeming analytics, to see what videos do the best, and do those more in an effort to double their success. This is the sort of thing that leads to rebooting old shows (Gilmore Girls, Fuller House, Roseanne, etc) hoping that if they can just rekindle the magic that worked a decade ago, so they can hit on a successful enterprise. But it isn’t a decade ago, and just because something hit once doesn’t mean you can repeat that success. I have a video that is 3 minutes long, is about next to nothing (save for a very attractive man stripping {taking his shirt off} in the middle) and it has over 600 views. Why? I presume the stripping, but no video I’ve made has come close to this analytics, yet, and I can’t spend my time recording guys stripping just to hit upon that success again. It’s an anomaly of a video, and I’m okay with that.

  17. Subscribe for Subscribe?

    There’s a lot of people who will subscribe to you hoping for a subscribe back, and for some people, this is certainly one path to success, but it’s not a long term solution. Sure you can get a lot of people following you which looks great, but are they watching your content? Are they commenting? Are they liking and contributing? Views and subscribers are great, but part of the fun of YouTube is the interaction. It’s the communication with people who enjoy your content. Sure it can get ugly quickly and that’s the part of YouTube you have to be careful of, but there are great things too.

    Ultimately I’ve learned a lot of important lessons from creating on YouTube, it’s so much more amazing than I ever could have imagined. It’s fun, and it’s something I genuinely enjoy doing. I never imagined it could take over my years of blogging and almost make me quit blogging entirely but here we are. Almost months later, with all the knowledge I have accumulated. What have you learned that has surprised you either from YouTube, or social media in general or just sharing your work?

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Writing Advice is Bullshit, here’s why.

The other week I read an article written by a Daily Beast contributor that started with the title: If You Want to Write a Book, Write Everyday or Quit Now.  A clickbait title if I ever read one but okay, I’ll bite. I’m always game for new points of view, so I read it. Like a lot of writing advice it had good points, and questionable points, and I came out of reading the article with the realization that most writing advice should be taken with a grain of salt. Why?

A few reasons. Not the least of which is, writers (particularly of fiction) are really good at bullshit. It’s what we do. If there is one thing we understand very well, it is how to bullshit, and draw things out, and some of us, if we’re so inclined, can even make a simple one sentence concept into pages and pages of bullshit. Throughout high school and college, I was the envy of many when it came to essays because 500+ words is a cakewalk when 490 of them are basically rephrasing the topic at hand, and filling the rest with marshmallow level fluff.

There’s a certain poetry in our bullshit at times, I confess. Why write that the sky was dark when you can explain that the sky was a stormy slate grey, then proceed to wax poetic for a few paragraphs or so about Mississippi rainstorms in June. It may not necessarily tell the reader much about the plot, but it gives you a greater feel for the world, and the time in which the story takes place.

This is all well and good in fiction, but in writing advice it tends to be a little more blatant. As in the article above. The author specifically notes that writing everyday is metaphorical (except that it kind of isn’t?) and yet, he needn’t have bothered because it was pretty obvious that they were trying to make a dramatic point with the title.

I’m not opposed to the theory of writing everyday, necessarily. I think you should definitely write as much as possible, but these ‘rules’ that some authors try to lay down strike me as arbitrary and more often than not conflict with one another to the point you have to ask yourself, who’s right? Whose advice do I trust more?

Some say write everyday, some say a draft should only take 3 months, these are good notes, but I’ve had drafts take roughly 3 months and some take 5-6 (depending on how much time I can afford to dedicate to them). It doesn’t help that I don’t keep any kind of accurate track on how long something takes me from start to finish, so honestly it would be disingenuous of me to say I even knew how long the average book draft takes me.

I whole heartedly agree that writing must be taken seriously if it is something you want to do, seriously, but what I’ve come to learn after years of writing and years of reading advice and thought pieces on the subject of writing is, the best advice anyone can give you is to take advice with a grain of salt. Not everything is going to work for you, not everything makes sense for what you want to write. If you write romance, advice on how to write a mystery probably isn’t going to apply. Take what works, and what seems sensible, and then decide for yourself. Challenge your worldview, if you so wish, but don’t just accept a piece of advice as gospel simply because the person who wrote it is an author you admire or someone who claims to be an ‘expert’. Trust yourself, you know a lot more than you give yourself credit for. At the end of the day, all the advice in the world will never compare to taking action and starting your story, and getting to work. There’s no better learning experience than just doing it.

Hitting Pause on the Blog

write

One of the best pieces of advice I got in college was the KIS method of design. Keep it simple. Only, I didn’t fully realize what that meant until recently when I read an article on time management, in which it noted:

The basic principle of success is to focus. It is what makes the difference between those who are successful and those who are not, regardless of how much talent, resource, and energy that they have. – Thomas Oppong –

The Secret to Mastering Your Time is to Systematically Focus on Importance And Suppress Urgency

For a while now, and in particular the past year, I’ve spread myself incredibly thin on a variety of projects. But it all reached a head when, in April, I started creating content for YouTube, and simultaneously tried to blog daily. I was able to be successful at those two things, at the cost of me not writing anything for my novel for the better part of April.

In it’s earliest form, my blog was about furthering my platform, and largely that is still the point of all of the work I’ve been doing. But for me, my multitude of efforts to expand my platform has come at the cost of the very reason I need a platform in the first place. My novels. I tried desperately to balance everything. A full time day job, and my full time job as a writer. Blogging, podcasts, essays, shorts, vlogging. I convinced myself that if enough of these were spread far enough out that I could somehow, someway do them all.

Only, it didn’t work out that way. Perhaps if I had managed my time better I might have been able to make it all work out. But that’s the thing about it. Overworking myself, even with time management can only lead to one eventual outcome. Burnout, which will lead to a complete creative shutdown.

I can’t afford that.

I’ve had to make sacrifices and in the process I’ve decided where I think I should try and focus my efforts more.

I still love blogging.

I’ve done it for the better part of a decade now, and never in my life did I imagine that I would be writing this post, or even considering giving up blogging before I gave up anything else in my new creative endeavors.

This isn’t to say I’m never going to blog again.

I’d like to think that if a post strikes me to be written, I’ll put it out there. Maybe I can go back to the Monday, Wednesday, Friday system (not unlike how I do my vlogs) perhaps instead I’ll do Tuesday, Thurs, Sat so I always have new content somewhere. I haven’t decided yet.

For the time being at least, perhaps just through May, or perhaps a bit longer. I need to put things on pause.

Not writing at all for me is the worst possible scenario, and I would rather not do a lot of things than not write fiction.

The Drive

writeFor as long as I can remember, I have possessed a drive unlike that of perhaps anyone in my family. I have known (for instance) that I wanted to be an author, with little hesitation since I was ten years old, and I have thrown myself into it 120% ever since. This driving force is my greatest strength. I love what I do, and I’ve made it a point to push myself to work harder, do more, do everything I can think of to put myself out there. To build my platform, and help me get my work out there so I can be what I have always wanted to be. My dream for my future has in many ways changed greatly over the years as I get older and I realize what I definitely do want, and definitely don’t.

 

Lately however while I know what I want, doing it is often a lot more difficult than I would have otherwise thought. I’m contemplating a dozen different ways to up the amount of fiction writing I do in any given week (since I think it’s safe to say in the non-fiction category I write daily), I’m not the sort of person who can just force myself to write something if I’m not feeling it, and yet, maybe it’s time I give that more of an effort. Because honestly, even writing I’m not particularly fond of at the moment is still something.

Is it All Worth it?

writeRecently I’ve noticed a frustrating trend. I’ve worked diligently to ensure that I am posting daily blogs, and 3x weekly vlogs as well as bi-weekly podcasts and essays. I’m making it a point to utilize Twitter more and working to use Facebook more, and ultimately continuing work to grow my brand to its greatest potential. But this has come at a cost, in terms of my literary output. I spend so much of my time working on avenues to get my name out there and get my brand out there that I’m not actually doing the one thing that I desperately need to do to make all of this even worth the effort.

Write.

Mostly I am writing every day in the form of blog posts, or essays or ideas for things, but the novel writing, the part that is why I’m doing any of this has slowed considerably, and it makes me wonder, is platform building worth it, if it comes at the cost of me actually writing?

I feel like I’ve had this existential crisis before, but I still haven’t figured out the answer. I want to believe that I can have both in tandem with one another, building a platform while also continuing to write novels, but the evidence thus far is showing that less and less. The more I do one, the less I seem to do the other. Finding that balance has become increasingly tricky and I can’t help but wonder if something will fall by the wayside in the process.

To-Do Lists

I love a to-do list. I love day planners, and figuring out what I need to do (preferably for the week when possible, and I’ve made it a point to ensure I have set days of when I know I need to get things done… that being said, sticking to these lists and not forgetting information, and for that matter following the schedule I’ve set for myself is not as easy as I would otherwise like and I’m not always that great at it.

The other day I read an article about the improved benefits of blocking time rather than simply using to do lists and so I tried it or rather tried to block things out except I didn’t end up following that either.

Most of the time I do well enough with a to-do list. I know what needs to be done sooner rather than later, but it doesn’t necessarily mean I get as much done as I know I ought to, which is how I forgot to put the essay up last night even though it was on my list. Or edit a video that I intended to edit the other day for Friday.

I know the more I do it, the better I’ll get but needless to say the struggle is real.

Write for yourself, edit for the reader

There’s a lot of writing advice out there, some of it’s great, some of it is worthless, all of it should be taken with a grain of salt. That being said, there is something that I’ve thought about recently and so I wanted to make a point to write about it here.

J.K.Rowling famously admitted that “she didn’t have a reader in mind when she wrote Harry Potter.” She was writing for herself, and it’s a fairly common notion for most writers that they ought to write mostly for themselves or as Toni Morrison says: “If there’s a book you want to read that hasn’t been written, you must write it.” Writing for yourself, and writing the sort of book you want to read is crucial, but eventually a reader will have to be a part of your thought process.

Editing is the perfect time for this because you’re already making major changes to your work and it’s expected that a lot of changes will probably be happening already in the course of you editing/rewriting your work (particularly if publication is ever the gain). This is the time in which you would want to ensure you were taking the time to consider what type of reader your work ought to have? What do they like to read and what are some expectations for the genre you’re writing in? This isn’t to say that you can’t bend or even break the rules, but you should at least know what the rules are in order to know why they ought to be followed or not followed depending on the work. Knowing who your potential reader might be can only help you in the long run. Is it YA? Romance? Sci-Fi? Or a little of the three, muddying the waters of genre is never a bad thing, but it can complicate the question of who is your book written for.