The Real Struggles of Being a Published Author

I’m fortunate to be in the 1% of people who has cold pitched a book and ended up with a publishing contract. In my case lightning struck twice – I had two non-fiction advocacy books published in 2018. While it’s pretty cool to be a published author, it is a struggle to get your book noticed.

I’m no J.K. Rowling but I’m passionate. And I’m a good storyteller.

The people who have read my books love the practical, simple advice I give on how to advocate for kids with special needs or how to survive a high-risk pregnancy. They love the stories I share from parents, healthcare providers and educators. The writing style is relatable and the books are short enough for the most stressed out parent to read.

Based on the positive feedback, you would think the books are selling like hotcakes. But they’re not (there I’ve finally admitted my dark secret).

Competitive field

Even though I’ve worked in public relations for 20+ years, and received national, provincial and local media coverage on the books, it’s still a struggle. Why? With so many books to chose from, it’s hard for an unknown writer to get a book on a shelf (less than a 1% chance).

Sure my books are available on Amazon or in a google search, but unless people know your book exists, it’s hard for it to be found. That means an author needs to be CONSTANTLY promoting their book.

I’ve learned (the hard way) that researching and writing the book was the easy part. The ongoing promotions is the hardest part.

Passion over money

The motivation for writing my books was to help other parents and caregivers overcome struggles that I, and others, have gone through. I wanted to help smooth out some of the bumpy parts by giving them a roadmap to help them navigate the journey.

As a university instructor, my hope was for nursing students, medical students, social workers, teachers, and anyone else working, or planning to work, in the education or healthcare systems to read the books. This would help them understand the challenges and realities of raising kids with special needs or moms with high-risk pregnancies.

Keep on trucking

While my most recent book royalty cheque was a bit of a kick to the gut, and I shed a couple of tears, I’m regrouping and looking for new ways to promote my books. I have more speaking engagements and advocacy workshops booked and continue to write advocacy blogs.

While I know I will never make millions on my books, I’m still committed to sharing my story in hopes of helping others. I also want to take a bit of the mystique away about being a published author and shed some light on the real struggles of getting a book in the hands of readers.

Yes it’s still cool and I’m proud of to be in the 1%, but now I know why the average book sells less than 250 books per year and 3,000 copies over its lifetime.

For any writers hoping to get published, I write this not to scare you (okay, maybe a little) but also to give you insights into the world of being a published author. And the world of a self-published author is more daunting.

The next time you pick up a book (hopefully one you’ve purchased as we need your support), you’ll have a bit more appreciation for the amount of blood sweat and tears that went into getting it into your hand. Somewhere an author is doing a happy dance that their book has been discovered.