Dear Unpublished Cathryn,
That dream you had about becoming a published author? Guess what? It comes true! You’ll have to work your butt off to get there, but you will get there. It will take time though. A lot of time.
The fits and starts will pay off eventually. I know it’s frustrating to begin all those books only to have them fizzle out around the 10,000 word mark because you’ve lost the plot, literally. But those words are still good practice, and one day you’ll come up with a story that is more 10,000 words. In fact, it’ll come in at about 130,000 and will take three months to write.
And when you finish that first book? Oh, my dear, the high will be unbelievable, like nothing you’ve ever felt before.
You will be hooked on the drug that is writing and you will not want to come clean.
More books will follow, and while not at publishable standard, each new story will be better than the previous.
You’ll join the Romance Writers of Australia, start entering their contests, attend conferences, engage on writers’ loops and learn more than you thought possible.
You will also make incredible friends. And you will need these people now, and in the future, because this game is not easy.
It is incredibly hard.
You think getting published is difficult? Wait until you see what staying published is like.
But I digress.
You will write seven full-length novels before you earn your first print publishing contract. You will dabble in another genre and score a couple of eBook contracts but it’s rural romance, your first love, that will get you over the line.
And you know what? You will know which book it is from the first chapter because this book sings. It’s the culmination of a lot of work, a lot of learning and a lot of grit. You will be proud and deservedly so. The book will be Promises, later retitled to The Horseman’s Promise, and it will always be special.
The next book will sing even louder and leave you with a hero crush that has yet to be surpassed. Really.
More books will come. Some will be easier than others. One will knock your confidence so badly that for a long time you will consider quitting. Don’t. Light will come again, I promise. You will find it by writing not for a contract but for the sheer passion of it. That book will be Wayward Heart and it will be beautiful on two fronts. First, the story. The second because of the lesson it teaches: always write with joy.
And don’t be scared. The publishing world will change incredibly in the future. Ebooks will become mainstream and readers won’t care who publishes your books. All they care about is being able to read your stories. You’ll be able to straddle both worlds – the traditional and the new – and it’ll be fun. Huge fun. More work too, but that’s okay. You don’t mind a bit of hard work and when it’s this much fun it’s not really work at all.
Oh, and some closing advice …
Remember this: story is king.
You know how you love to spend hours and hours perfecting paragraphs and sentences, trying to make them as beautiful and unique as possible? Well, stop it. There are more important things to worry about. It’s procrastination by perfectionism and doesn’t get books written.
Besides, most of those slaved over lines will end up shredded during edits and you’ll cry. A lot. And sniffling over lost lines is stupid. Trust your future self when she tells you this. Ten years and fourteen published novels on makes me wiser than you.
Protect your creativity. It’s the most precious asset you have. Without it, there will be no books. Take careful note of the things that knock your confidence and avoid them. Instead, embrace activities that nurture it: exercise, reading, travel, the arts.
Most of all, enjoy the journey. It has its rocky patches but it’s a beauty. Even better, it’s still going.
How cool is that?
Cathryn Hein is the best-selling author of fourteen rural romance and romantic adventure novels, a Romance Writers of Australia Romantic Book of the Year finalist, and a regular Australian Romance Reader Awards finalist.
Originally from country South Australia, she now lives in Newcastle, Australia. Cathryn’s latest release is EDDIE AND THE SHOW QUEEN, book five in her popular Levenham Love Story series.
Discover more about Cathryn and her stories at cathrynhein.com
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