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One Decade Later…

Looking back at a decade of being a 'published' author

A library reading in 2010

It’s almost unbelievable to me that ten years have gone by since my first book was released into the world. After more than twenty years as a ‘closet writer’ and at least seven of riding the ‘submission/rejection’ merry-go-round, my book AND THE BEAT GOES ON was accepted by a traditional publisher and released in 2009 as a hardcover.

My one sheet of published work is getting to be too much for ‘one sheet’.

In 2019, I made it just under the wire by self publishing my novel BLOOD TIES, the only thing that I released last year. In the decade between I’ve had a pretty good run, if numbers count for anything, with twenty-one published books or plays plus contributions to several collections, anthologies, and magazines. I’ve had a bit of press, won a few awards, met tons of great people, secured an agent, lost an agent, started my own publishing company, and became president of a national writers’ organization.

Sounds good on paper. (Even if the monetary rewards haven’t matched the other numbers.)

I took some time to reflect on some of the things I’ve learned over the past ten years – not just outward accomplishments, but deep down lessons I’ve taken away as a human.

  1. It takes a lot of work – some if it unexpected and not always fun. There is a lot more to being a writer than I initially realized. The biggest surprise was the amount of time and effort one has to put into marketing – something I never expected. Writing the book is actually the easy part.
  2. Working hard doesn’t guarantee success. In fact, the busyness trap can easily suck the creative juices dry if one isn’t careful. With so many good ideas and so many voices out there telling you what you ‘should’ be doing, it’s easy to start spinning your wheels in an effort to try and do it all. Guess what? In the end, all that spinning equates to nothing if it isn’t strategic. You might as well relax and go watch a movie.
  3. There is no perfect system. I’ve tried a lot of tactics, and followed a lot of so called ‘experts’, but I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no perfect system, be it for productivity, marketing, or even writing. We can always be one step behind the curve when it comes to the next big thing, so instead, do what is right for you, not what everyone else thinks is right.
  4. Focus on the pluses, not the deficits. I could feel discouraged that after ten years I’m still not able to support myself with my writing. Yes, I’ve made some money, but I’ve also spent money trying to figure out the best way to sell more books. I’m not sure where the balance lies. Instead, I’m just grateful for the sense of accomplishment and the people I’ve met. Screw the money!
  5. There is still so much I don’t know. When I think back to how naive I was in 2009, not to mention technically illiterate, I can hardly believe the strides I’ve made and the things I’ve learned. I also look back to those earlier books and cringe, because I’ve grown as a writer and there are lots of things I’d like to change. (Which is partly why I started my own publishing company and have been republishing my books when I get the rights back to them.) I’m still learning, and frankly, I don’t think any of us will ever ‘arrive’.

My expectations have changed in the past ten years. I naively thought that once my first book came out I’d be on the way to a paying career as an author. Now I’m just content to keep writing with the hope that a few folks will like my stories. I doubt that fame and fortune are on the horizon, but that’s okay.

I’ve found that the best thing I can do for myself is to commit the work to God and then let Him take care of the rest. Sounds like a simple plan moving forward. Here’s to another decade.

8 Comments

  1. Lynn says:

    Inspiring! Thank you Tracy for sharing your journey! And your lessons. You’ve accomplished a lot.

  2. Kathleen Friesen says:

    Thank you, Tracy! As always, you inspire me to do better, write more, and be content. Here’s to another decade!

  3. Ginny Jaques says:

    Totally agree with you in everything you say here. Birthing a book must be a lot like birthing a baby. You have great plans for the little tyke, but Someone else has different great ideas. One day we’ll be able to see them. Until then it’s just a long obedience in the right direction.

    1. tracykrauss says:

      Hi ginny! Nice to ‘see’ you here! Yes, we have lots of kids, don’t we, and things don’t always go as planned… But we love them anyway!

  4. Sharon Espeseth says:

    Good for you, Tracy. I’m happy for you that you’ve come so far along the way. I appreciate your closing, “I’ve found that the best thing I can do for myself is to commit the work to God and then let Him take care of the rest. Sounds like a simple plan moving forward.” Here’s my toast to you for your next decade.

    1. tracykrauss says:

      Thank you for your words of encouragement Sharon!

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