Friday, June 29, 2018

What advice would you give yourself the night before your first book hit shelves? (With K. M. Weiland!)

We've had a blast hosting K. M. Weiland on the blog this week! Make sure you follow her on social media, because she really knows her stuff! Find her on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

Our last panel question with K. M. is:

 If you could go back in time and give yourself a piece of advice the night before your first book hit shelves, what would you say? 

K. M.: Don’t be afraid.

I look back at my career so far, and I’m very proud of it. I was constantly running, constantly working, constantly thinking. And I did cover a lot of ground. But I can see now that one of the reasons I ran so fast was because there was always something I was afraid of nipping at my heels: fear of failure, fear of not being good enough, fear of not selling enough books or getting enough good reviews.

If I could do it over again, I would like to try to reach for all these positive goals from a more positive place. I would like to slow down and enjoy the journey more rather than focusing so obsessively on the end goals. I think it would have helped me create healthier lifestyle habits along the way.

It’s easy to lose the joy of writing amidst the frantic pursuit of success. I feel like I always did a decent job of protecting my creativity amidst all the challenges of self-employment, but if I had it to over again, I think I could do it better.

Shannon: “Enjoy this. Celebrate it. Don’t talk yourself out of experiencing excitement simply because of all the unknowns that come with bravely putting yourself out there.”

A gazillion people write books hoping they’ll one day end up on the shelf. If your journey leads you to that spot, celebrate. Let yourself enjoy the fruits of your labor. The road will have potholes. It will have mountains to scale. And there will be disappointments, but whenever you’re given opportunities to revel in your job, take advantage. Your time in the writing cave far outweighs your time in celebration. Don’t miss out when moments present themselves.

Stephanie: “It won’t go well. You’re going to be crushed, but it’ll be okay.” My first series, “did not meet sales expectations,” which is a polite way of saying that my sales sucked. This led to sales sucking for books two and three as well, as you might imagine. And that led to several years of drought and self-doubt.

But I also found an inner strength I didn’t know I had. I can be criticized publicly and be okay with it. I can have people tell me to my face that they did not like my book, and I survived. I can fail and get back up again.

Also, if my contemporary YA fiction had been successful, I probably would not have had the opportunity to write historical fiction, which I love and would not have wanted to miss out on.

Jill: Set boundaries for yourself and focus on writing the next book and spending time with your family. Don’t go overboard on marketing. The best thing you can do to market is write more books. I say that because I was out-of-control on fire to do everything right when my first book came out, and I wasted a lot of time, energy, money, and hope on marketing, advertising, and publicity.

That said, no one could have told me otherwise.

I’ve always been the girl who has to do everything the hard way and learn my lessons when I crash and burn. Still, marketing is important. It is. But you have to set a budget, make a plan, stick to it, and know that you did what you could. Then move on to the next project. I spend so much time, mostly, slaving for anyone who would ask. I didn’t know how to say no, and I didn’t know how to measure what would be a valuable investment of my time.

I know better now, and I still struggle with saying no to people. So if I could go back, I’d tell myself to read Essentialism (even though it hadn’t been written yet), and read Boundaries, and apply those principles to my life. All those years would have been far less stressful.

What about you, writers? What would you tell yourself before you wrote your first book?


  1. While I am not published, (I hope to be in the future) I have completed manuscripts before, and if I could go back and tell one thing to myself before I wrote my first manuscript, it would be not to stress about everything working out in the first draft. I was obsessed with trying to get my stories written perfectly the first time (this was short lived--thank gosh) and I would put off writing simply because I couldn't find the right words. Now I just write and trust that I can fix whatever's wrong in revisions.

  2. I love, love, love your answer KM. And I second it wholeheartedly.

  3. Should have made it longer, but you can fix that with book two. Don't fear the unknown. And you probably should have been more careful with character names. There are two many that are similar! (Allen, Alvin and Austin). Families with names that start with the same letter are cute, just not for my books ;) And GIRL! CUT DOWN ON YOUR

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