5 Things You Can Do, Starting Today, To Become an Author
It was an October night, 13 years ago. I remember the night because it was when I found the courage to ponder a dream I’d kept hidden for years.
It was the night I vowed to myself that, God willing, I would write a book.
It began with a simple question: What if?
What if I could write a book? What if I really could get published? What if I could actually make a difference for the Kingdom by using the communication gifts God planted in me?
But there were other “what ifs,” intimidating “what ifs.”
What if I can’t do this?
What if my platform stays this small?
What if I get rejected repeatedly?
What if someone else could write this book better?
Do those “what ifs” sound familiar to you? Perhaps you have found the courage to dream a book writer’s dream. But fear keeps you from taking the next step forward.
Friend, I’ve been there. In fact, most every author I know has been there. We all struggle with self-doubt, rejection, the pressure of platform-building, and intense cases of writer’s block.
But in the end, one set of “what ifs” has to give way for the other, or we’ll never move forward with the messages God has placed on our hearts.
Dear writer, I’m thinking of you today, wherever you are on your journey in writing. I’m praying for you and offering my encouragement to you. To that end, I created a list for you: “5 Things You Can Do, Starting Today, To Become an Author.” And I know I’m going to sound like a bossy big sister here, but I’m saying it straight because I believe in you!
It all begins here:
- Stop making excuses and start writing. I know so many people who say, “I’d love to write a book someday,” but then they give me 10 excuses on why they can’t take those steps. That book isn’t going to write itself. You have to affirm the value of the work at hand and then do what you can to invest in the craft — attending conferences, taking writing courses, etc. If you want to write a book, get started now. Don’t wait for “ideal conditions.” They don’t exist.
- Develop habits of consistency. Set a time every day, or every week, to write. Even if you aren’t sure you have anything to say. The habit of showing up to the page on a regular basis will unearth gems you didn’t even know were there.
- Overcome the fear of sharing your innermost thoughts. It can feel vulnerable and intimidating to let your heart spill onto the page. But that’s where the magic happens. Your reader wants to know that she isn’t alone and that you are a trustworthy guide who won’t hold back.
- Gain new confidence and kinship by taking part in a writing community. Whether it’s through COMPEL, a Direct Access book club or a small mastermind group with a few friends, learning in community is critical. Authoring books can be a lonely profession. Find your people and communicate with them on a regular basis.
And finally, this is a big one for all of us in the business of writing books:
- Replace your dread of platform-building with the knowledge that it will grow! Platform is an element to publishing that isn’t going away for the foreseeable future. Publishers want to have an indication that you’re able to help market and sell your book to people who already care about your message. I always encourage authors with the following advice: We all start at zero.
When I started out, I was at zero, too. I didn’t have an audience. So there’s no way a publisher would have signed me. One morning, I woke up, poured a cup of coffee and Googled “how to start a blog.”
And then? I started a blog. With zero readers. Zero interested parties. And then I started a Facebook page. With zero followers. I worked hard, put in the hours and honestly thought to myself: “This book-writing dream will never happen. It will never be my turn.”
Meanwhile, it looked like every other blogger I knew was signing a book contract! Then it finally was my turn, through the power of slow growth.
Little by little, day by day, zero turned to 10, and then 10 turned to 50, and then 50 turned to 200. Years — and I mean years — later I published my first book.
Sometimes, people will say things like, “I’d love to publish a book but I don’t have any readers or Facebook followers like you do, Jennifer.” My answer to them is this: We all start at zero. If you stick with it, your turn will come.
And all of those “what ifs” will turn into “look at what is”!
Jennifer Dukes Lee
If you enjoyed today’s blog post and have dreams to write a book, you’d be so encouraged to learn about writing and publishing directly from Jennifer and her team at Zondervan in real time. This team will lead you on a comprehensive journey from book proposal preparation to editing to successfully marketing your message. With years of combined experience, publishing some of the top-selling Christian books in the marketplace, Jennifer and her team will share best practices and philosophies that will help you get your book published — and market it!
Our next intensive writing study, called Direct Access: A Writers’ Book Club, begins on February 21, 2022. We will be featuring a study of Jennifer’s book Growing Slow.
Direct Access is free for members of COMPEL Training but the public is also invited to join in this amazing study for only $29.98. If you’re interested in taking advantage of this unique learning experience for writers, click here!!
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Truth. “We all start at zero.”
Thank you for sounding like a “bossy big sister” who speaks truth in love!
Thank you, Jennifer, for sharing. Building a platform paralyzes me. I never stopped to ponder…”we all start at zero” God used your words to speak to my heart! I appreciate your honesty, insight and encouragement.