This morning, I opened an email from a fellow writer who posed these questions:
How will I know when I’m ready to write a book? How will I know when to publish?
Excellent questions. Likely ones a lot of us ask ourselves, myself included.
To best answer those, let me pose another question:
Were you ready for your first kiss?
Because being mentally prepared and logistically equipped are two different things.
My first kiss was part tongue-tangle, part braces-meets-retainer clash-up. And far too many friends were watching.
It was magical, and it was mortifying.
But like so many leaps in life, you’ve got to step off that cliff if you’re ever going to figure it out.
I think we all get hung up on knowing everything there is to know about writing and publishing and marketing before we even entertain the idea that we’re ready.
But like they say in copywriting, you just have to know a little more than the person you’re writing for to be qualified for a project. And hopefully you’re also smart enough to seek out guidance when you need it, ask for feedback, and be open to critiques.
A friend of mine works as a veterinarian at an emergency animal care hospital. She treats everything from dogs to cats to turtles to guinea pigs. “What do you do,” I once asked her, “when someone walks in with a tortoise or a pet skunk or a domestic pig? How do you know what’s wrong with them?”
“I don’t,” she answered. “A lot of the fundamentals still apply, so I can usually make a basic assessment. But that’s when I make up an excuse to leave the exam room for a minute so I can scour the big book we keep in the back. It explains all kinds of animal problems, and I try to figure out what I’m dealing with.”
Of course, caring for ailing creatures isn’t as easy as simply referring to a how-to book. My friend’s real value as a professional is the fact that she knows how to make use of the information she finds. She can implement the treatments and relay them in an understandable way to the owner of the sick pig (or whatever).
That’s why getting educated about the specifics of marketing, publishing, and writing will take you far. When it’s time for you to cliff-dive into the exciting world of life as a published author, you’ll have a solid knowledge base even as you face daily uncertainties.
Think about it. Most professionals either keep resource books on hand or consult with colleagues any time an out-of-the-ordinary question comes up.
Writers are no different. You don’t have to know all the answers when the big questions loom. You just need to know who to trust and where to find quality knowledge.
That’s why I highly recommend a solid grasp on the fundamentals of good writing, and of persuasive writing in particular.
And if you want to do well as a published author, you’d be wise to build a network of fellow writers who can point you in the right direction if you hit a wall.
But you don’t have to know everything. That’s one of the biggest barriers to entry into this career – writers being too afraid to put themselves out there because they don’t know enough.
So be smart about preparing yourself to go out there and write that book you’ve always yearned to write. And once you’ve got a decent understanding of the ins and outs of the book world … jump! Go for it. Do it.
You might hit a few bumps along the way … but you’ll never know unless you put yourself out there.
Because that first leap, however awkward, could be the beginning of something fabulous. Chances are good you won’t regret it.
I should know – 18 years and three kids later, that first kiss was one of the best gambles I ever took.
To your taking-the-leap success,