Last year, I’ve posted my review of Wizard of Earthsea around the net, and this happened:

Ursula K Le Guin

This was on BookBub. Ms Le Guin (the author of Earthsea) was an accomplished and prolific Sci-Fi & Fantasy author and an outspoken advocate on social issues, whose books deeply influenced my adolescence. So, naturally, this was all very squee-worthy.

Now, what’s the likelihood of Ms Le Guin visiting BookBub and interacting with reviewers? Not high, especially considering that she passed away in January 2018, a full six months before I posted my review.

Some publishing assistant with her estate or publisher must have gone in to set up promotions (the Left Hand of Darkness was indeed on special a couple of month later), and has ‘liked’ my review as per standard operating PR procedures.

So what’s my point?

As an indie author, we should take encouragement where we can — even if it is from the spirits of departed literary giants, channeled by unwitting publishing assistants. Most of us will never rise to be a household name, but we do it anyway for the love of storytelling. I choose to believe that, should Ms Le Guin had the chance to read my stories in life, she would have appreciated them.

This post came about after talking to a few aspiring authors, some online and some in a speaking engagement with the Hawkesbury River Writers group. I think the core message applies to any writer and author. Consider the following list — each achievement on it means you are ten times further ahead than before, and have reason the celebrate:

  • Completed a manuscript
  • Found an agent or publisher
  • Published (including self-published) a novel
  • Sold a short story
  • Won an award
  • Got an honest, unsolicited, glowing review

The last one is particularly important. You’ve touched someone else’s life, and made it a bit better. That’s huge. That’s what storytelling is about, and why it’s so important to us humans. You may not have the advertising budget to push your work right in the face of millions of potential readers, but you’ve still reached across the globe and connected. Be proud and joyous about it.

As writerly advice goes, in order to write a book you need to write. If you’ve been doing that and reached any of the above, you’re well ahead of the game. And perhaps ‘game’ is not a bad way to think about it. Not in the sense of a contest or of ‘gaming the system’, but in the sense of play done for enjoyment.

Whether you’re still working towards your first novel or whether you’ve just published your tenth and it’s your day-job: Never forget to take a moment to celebrate your victories (whether big or small) and, most importantly, enjoy the journey!

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