I spent two summers working in Yellowstone National Park as a housekeeper and thought the experience was so unique it warranted a book. So for five years, I spent my time ideating, positioning, writing, and heavily, heavily editing it. The book finally launched last spring through a small, Chicago-based press.

Enough time’s gone by now that I’m able to think and reflect on that experience. What happened as a result of becoming an author? What lesser known quirks did I learn after publication?

Here are 8 lessons I learned…

1. It’s definitely a young-adult book

I had approached and executed on my memoir, knowing it would most likely serve a young adult audience, particularly high schoolers and some college-goers. This was heavily confirmed by the reviews and feedback I had gotten from readers I knew and even didn’t know.

Knowing who you’re writing to is extremely critical in the book-writing and especially marketing process. It influences the “natural-ness” of your writing style, offers a meaningful story to the person who needs to hear it, and helps with future marketing.

2. I knew it was unique because of the response I got from people

When I told people about the book I was working on, or they asked, I would explain the premise in one sentence. And based on that one sentence, I would consistently get positive and interested reactions from people, which affirmed my efforts to write (and eventually publish) this book.

Explaining your book idea or story in a short, concise format is an extremely attractive way to get people interested in and receptive to your book. If you’re planning on going the traditional publishing route, this will be a necessity.

3. The first book is about proving to yourself that you CAN do it

Your first book is the one where you’re exploring your new identity as a writer/author. You begin to understand just how much energy, dedication, and consistency goes into crafting a well-told story. That being said, your first draft will not be good and it’s not supposed to be. It’s meant to be written.

Have patience and grace with yourself as a writer, and just know that writing a book (even if it’s a first draft), still makes you a part of the small percentage of people who do it.

4. Don’t read all the reviews

Reading reviews is not for the faint of heart, especially on Goodreads (which tends to be more honest and critical). People will dislike your book for reasons outside of your control, and although some can be constructive with their thoughts, practice discernment when seeking out reader reviews. Knowing that you wrote a story on its own is worth recognition and praise. 🙂

5. If you love your story, it’s your job to make someone else love it too

It’s one thing to find meaning and intrigue in your own book, but it’s another to tell a story in a way that’s experiential and puts the reader in your shoes. There needs to be some kind of shared identity in some way, whether it’s a challenge, a mindset, a perspective, a culture, or a literal identity, you are using your story/experience to interest and invite in a reader.

If you’re a fiction writer, this is telling a story well based on the techniques and methods that are best used for your particular genre. Approaches for a memoir might not necessarily translate to a romantasy.

6. It’s hard to kill your darlings, but you’ve gotta do it anyway

This is a very common phrase that I first heard about in Stephen King’s book, On Writing. The process of darling killing involves slashing the parts of your book that you love in exchange for satisfying your target readership. In other words, what’s necessary and what isn’t? Cut the fluff and give your readers what they need to understand your book and continue reading it for the “payoff”.

7. It can be embarrassing to have people you know read your book

I’ll be honest, there are some parts in my own book that are rather vulnerable. I wrote it and published it knowing that I was showing a part of my underbelly, but I did it to connect with other readers who had maybe experienced something similar.

That being said, knowing that colleagues and older relatives were reading my book did make me cringe a little bit. But again, I did it in order to establish a shared identity with the reader.

8. Tell the truth

Especially in the case of memoir, tell as much of the truth that is necessary to your story. This is also applicable to any other nonfiction books that offer a solution or new perspective through storytelling. Telling the truth is a vulnerable thing to do, but it humanizes you and helps you come across as authentic. Authenticity is the secret ingredient to so many creative pursuits.

⭐ Let’s keep the conversation going! Email me at lauren@laurenericksonofficial.com 

If you found this information useful, consider subscribing to this newsletter. Otherwise, feel free to check out my YouTube channel or follow me on Instagram!

Fill out the form to access
FREE Courses