One year ago, I published her favorite color was sunshine yellow, my debut poetry book. This was the day I finally fulfilled my dream of becoming an author, years in the making.
One day ago, I received an email from my proofreader, letting me know that my debut nonfiction book, Poetic Potential: Sparking Change & Empowerment Through Poetry, was submitted to layout. And here we are, beginning the final stages of publishing for a December launch.
Over the course of the last year, I have grown as a writer and as a person. That much is clear to me. Through trial and error, learning curves, late nights, and early mornings, I have learned three major lessons that I will take with me throughout my life and hope can inspire others who need the nudge to follow their own dreams.
Lesson 1: The Power of Community
When I published HFCWSY, that entire journey was done on my own.
All of the writing, editing, revising, formatting, designing, and marketing? That was me. I learned how to build an audience through social media, growing a community on Instagram to over 1,500 followers in a year and a half. I learned how to use Adobe InDesign to format the interior of a book, spending long hours researching the content that goes into the front and back matter. Canva became my new best friend for social media posts and cover design templates.
And it was all done individually.
I’ll preface this: I do not regret self-publishing my first book. The subject was so close to me that this book became a piece of my heart. So having creative control over every single aspect meant a lot to me.
But, since joining Eric Koester’s Creators Institute, I have realized there is power in community. Yes, it’s a lesson I write about in great lengths in Poetic Potential, but I never understood how the community aspect of creating a book would benefit me.
I still love the individual work that goes into writing a book. Locking myself in a room with headphones on, Post-It notes scattered on my desk, and twenty tabs open on my laptop is something I genuinely enjoy. Writing is an individual act and I have always found a safe haven in it.
What I have discovered through this book program, however, is having a group of people experiencing the same thing as you is motivating. You see how well one author’s social media growth is going and you become inspired to schedule out a month’s worth of posts. You listen to a book trailer of an author describing why they wrote their book and it reaffirms your own passion for your subject. You discover that you need an accountability partner to bounce ideas off of and you have hundreds to choose from.
It doesn’t even matter who the people are. I’m a twenty-one-year-old author, finishing up my last semester of college before graduating to work in an internal audit role in a financial company. I have connected with entrepreneurs, high school students, coaches, public speakers, and corporate employees — and we each have taught each other something.
There is power in community, especially when undertaking a hard task. And that is an understatement for writing a book.
Lesson 2: The Power in Perseverance
Publishing a book was something I had dreamed about since I was a little kid. I have always been an avid writer, but I thought I was going to write a novel and publish that when I grew older. I tried — I really did. The farthest point I reached with a novel was 50 pages and I called that a success.
As time went on, I still had the dream, but it became more wishful. I knew I always had writing, no matter what career I went into, but I wasn’t sure how realistic my goal was to publish an actual book.
Once the pandemic hit in 2020 and I found myself with more time than I knew what to do with, something shifted. It would be poetic to say the nerve-wracking situation of a global pandemic made me realize that life was too short to not pursue your dreams but, truthfully, I think I just needed a new project. After discovering self-publishing existed as a method to get my work into the world, I was hooked.
That was when life got hard.
Again, I had wanted this for my entire life: to have my name on the front cover of a book. But doing everything myself was hard. It took a lot of intrinsic motivation, deadline setting, late nights of scribbling in notebooks, and constant reminders that this was my dream. Because I was working forty hours a week for my internship, waking up at 6 o’clock in the morning to run before work, and trying to squeeze my writing life into a few hours after dinner every day.
But I persevered.
When I was tired one night and couldn’t find the strength within me to stay up to write, I would wake up early instead. When I had lunch breaks, you could find me jotting down lines in a notebook. My summer reading consisted of poetry and books that inspired creativity, like Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I found a date I wanted to publish by and worked backwards to set up a timeline, marking my planner with dates where I should be done writing, revising, and formatting.
I never gave up.
That’s why I can confidently say I am a published author. And, by the age of twenty-two, I’ll have published two books. I accomplished my dream by using the work ethic that has been instilled in me my entire life and never quitting.
And I am so grateful for all of it.
Lesson 3: Authors are Entrepreneurs
When I came to Babson College, known for its undergraduate entrepreneurship program, I was firm in my desire for a business degree but also believed entrepreneurship was not the path for me. I would learn certain skills like teamwork and innovation through creating my own business freshman year, but that would be it. No more self-created ventures or business plans.
When I published my first book, I realized how wrong I had been.
Authors are entrepreneurs.
I created my book from scratch and wanted to sell it to the world, promoting it on social media to family, friends, and professional connections. I was a product designer, a marketer, a social media specialist, and an accountant for my books, all at once. I took some risks, paying for Instagram and Amazon promotions that didn’t work that well, but I learned from my mistakes.
Entrepreneurs learn fast when they fail fast. And I definitely have failed with many little undertakings during the past year: social media posts, promotions, sales, product launches for my Etsy shop, and more.
But I learned each time.
I pivoted, iterating through different test processes to see which hashtags yielded the best engagement on social media. I tested different product keywords on listings to see which gained more traffic. I built email lists, social media communities, friendships, and professional relationships.
I learned I was at the right school this whole time. Now I fully embrace my title as author, poet, writer, and entrepreneur.
Where To Next
I would be lying if I said Poetic Potential is my last book. No, I plan on writing many more. Before I even finished writing the first draft, I knew what my next idea was. That’s where my brain always is — five steps ahead. But I’ll always stop to live in the moment and admire just how far I have come.
Because, in a year, I accomplished more than I ever thought possible.