Five Things I Told Myself (Before I Became a Published Author)

By Lana Wayne Koehler

There are many things that I told myself before I became a published author, but these are my top five:
1. Before: I’m too old to start a new career   
After: I’m NEVER too old.

I’ve been very fortunate. I’ve done many things in my life. I’ve been a babysitter, teacher, mother, wholesaler, retailer, business owner, speaker, executive director, entrepreneur, marketer, and, lastly, a writer.

We all have long lists of things we’ve done. So why do we think that we’re EVER too old to start something new? We’re getting older every day, whether or not we work toward our dreams. Why not dream in hot pursuit of what we love?

2. Before: I can do it alone.
    After: It really DOES take a village.

I get it. Writing is a solitary profession. I have to sit down to an empty page and fill it. With words.

That make sense.

And yet, we are social beings always looking for ways to interact. My first writing village was very understanding. They were kind and gentle in the ways they critiqued my work (although, at the time, I thought that they were ripping my heart out!). Later, when my heart could better stand it, I was able to hone my craft with those willing to share their experience and who understood their role of Master Teacher. I studied at their proverbial knee and eagerly lapped up all they were willing to share.

Now that I’m with like-minded writers who support each other immeasurably, I find myself in the position of encouraging beginning writers as I had been encouraged—gently and with kindness and a lot of understanding.

The circle goes round and round. And that’s as it should be.

3. Before: Writing takes one good idea.
    After: Writing takes LOTS of good ideas!

How many times have I said to myself, “If I could just find that one good idea, I’d sell a million books!” I then proceeded to start projects that I never finished, daydreamed about life in the fast lane, and came down to earth with a big thud!

I’ve had the good fortune to meet lots of successful authors and most tell me the same thing—their “breakout book” wasn’t their first book. In fact, many of them have written 40 or more books and still have not had a breakout book. What they have is a career. And, in the end, isn’t that we all want?
So now I do my best to finish the projects I start and realize that writing is a lot like cooking spaghetti—I have to throw a lot against the wall to see what sticks.

4. Before: I’ll make lots of money.
    After: I’ll make some money in lots of ways.

Some of us will be fortunate enough to get an $85,000 signing bonus like one author I know (no names here) but for me, getting a book published was a lengthy, and not particularly profitable, process. It took three years from the first idea to final publication! While I did get an advance on royalties, the second half was received a full two years after the first half.

I’m learning that I can get income from book signings (that sell more of my book), speaking engagements at schools, teaching classes on writing, and writing more books!

5. Before: All I need to do is sell one bestseller.
    After: I need to keep writing!
Didn’t you sign up to be a writer? I know that I did! Looking at successful writers both past and present, I am filled with awe that I am counted in their company. Hemingway, Shakespeare, Dickens, Seuss. They were all prolific writers, managing to dazzle us time and again with their personal use of language and storytelling.

Why not use your special skill, your unique perspective, and your vast knowledge to expand the universe?

Keep writing! If you’re not one already, you may find yourself in the enviable position of calling yourself a Published Author!

Lana Wayne Koehler’s first picture book, “Ah-Choo!” (co-author Gloria G. Adams), was published March 1, 2016 by Sterling Publishing.

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