When I was a sophomore in high school, I was introduced to Urban Fiction through my best friend. I had a pretty rough childhood, so reading and writing had always been my escape, but when I read books such as Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree and The Coldest Winter Ever by Sister Souljah, it was then that I really connected to the stories. In some ways, I saw myself in those characters, in those situations, and it became addictive. As I got older, I wanted to try and see if I could create something like my idols before me, not for the fame or fortune, but for the love of writing.
In 2005, I started my first book Counterfeit Dreams as a personal challenge. I let my best friend and a few of my family members read the story as I went along, but I never had the intent on taking it any further than that. Seven long years later, I completed the book and felt a pride that I had never felt before, but I still wasn’t ready to let the world in on my little secret. It wasn’t until everyone around me encouraged me to self-publish Counterfeit Dreams that I found that courage within myself to take a step out on faith. I had no idea what I was doing at the time, but my dream of becoming a writer completely overshadowed that.
I never would have imagined what putting out this book would mean for me. After a lot of trial and error, I now have a series that I am more than proud of, I am the author that I always imagined being, and I am also the owner of my own publication company with 10 books under my belt. It scares me to know that I almost let these opportunities slip through my fingers because I was afraid of what people were going to think.
Here are a few tips that I live by and that have helped me along the way:
1. Tell EVERYONE, “I am a writer!”
Yell this from the rooftop if you have to. This should be a part of your daily mantra. Speak it into existence.
2. Study your craft and the business side of writing
This is a tip that I wish someone would have shared with me when I was first starting out. I think a lot of new authors get into this industry without having a solid foundation to stand on. The English language is a living, breathing thing, and is constantly changing. This means that you will need to change along with it. Stay on top of your craft by studying grammar, story architecture, syntax, etc., but also skill up on basic business concepts. Whether you're looking to self-publish, start your own publication company or be signed with someone, there are a lot of dos and don’ts that you want to be mindful of so that you’re not on the losing-end of the stick.
3. Socialize with other writers
This is very important to do, but please don't misconstrue this as you must become a part of some “clique.” When you're starting out as a new author, it's good to have as much support around you as possible, and who better to have than people who may be in the same shoes as you? Building a network of author friends is also beneficial when it comes to promoting. You’ll find that a lot of authors are willing to post/re-post your books or links to lend a helping hand, which is always a good thing.
4. Work with a mentor
Working with a mentor is great. It’s very helpful to speak with someone who has been in your position before and can help you avoid mistakes that maybe they have made in the past. Remember, you're not alone in this.
5. Do what works for you
I can’t stress this tip enough. You’ll get a lot of advice from people, some wanted, others unwanted, but you have to remember that at the end of the day, you have to do what works best for you. This industry is by no means a “one size fits all” industry. Learn as much as you can but apply what appeals to you. Remember, you are the writer. Don’t be afraid to stand on your own two feet.
6. Never give up!
This is the most important tip I can give to an aspiring author. The road might be bumpy along the way, but you must never give up! You never know who you could be inspiring on your road to success.
If you have a dream, whether it be to become a successful writer or anything else under the sun, I say go for it. Nothing worth having is going to come easily, so you shouldn’t expect it to. But through hard work and determination, you can achieve the impossible! Remember, it all starts with that first step.
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