Many of you have seen my recent giveaway and posts regarding Dream Waters by Erin Jensen. It is one of my current reads, and I have been completely entranced with her writing and the very distinct story line.
This is probably my last “Celebrating The Holidays With Friends” guest post as the holidays are approaching rapidly and time seems to be limited. I could not be happier than to conclude this segment with Erin. She is always genuine and kind with each interaction, providing a wonderful and welcomed experience. She has been continually supportive and giving. I cannot thank her enough for all that she has done! I am excited to have Erin share a bit more about who she is. While I could spend a lot more of my time explaining how wonderful connecting with her has been, I will let her post speak for itself.
A Guest Post by Erin Jensen
A few words about my journey, advice for my past self and my undying gratitude to book bloggers:
I’ve been tossing around different ideas for a guest post since Danielle generously asked me to write one. I’ll be honest, this is the first guest post I’ve written. I published my debut novel, Dream Waters, in April 2016 and Dream World (book 2 in the series) on October 31st. I spent three years writing and editing Dream Waters without telling anyone but my husband, our two sons and my best friend that I was even writing a novel. Eight months later, the grocery store where I work part time as a pharmacist is selling both my books, people walk up to me on the street and tell me they loved my books and people on the other side of the globe are reading my stories and tweeting about how much they loved them. When I stop to think about it, I’m astounded by everything that’s occurred over the last eight months. I mean, I’m still the same introvert that I was a year ago, except for the fact that I found the courage to step WAY outside my comfort zone and chase after my dream. Maybe that’s why I felt so daunted about writing this post. I’m not someone who feels particularly comfortable being the center of attention and quite honestly, I still find it hard to believe that people would be interested in reading what I have to say. I’m not going to attempt some grandiose masterpiece of a post, because that’s not me and I doubt it ever will be. So after much consideration, I’ve decided to share five things I’ve learned from my journey and wish I could go back and tell my past self.
1. You’ve only got one life. Don’t waste it being too afraid of failure to chase after your dreams.
Even if my books had tanked, I could look back on this experience and be proud that I went for it. I’ll never have to look back on my life, wish that I’d been bolder and wonder what might have been. No matter the outcome, I threw caution to the wind and put my heart and soul out there to be criticized and judged. I’m not going to lie, there were plenty of terrifying moments and more than a few tears along the way but I’ve never felt more alive.
2. Share your hopes and dreams with the people in your life.
If I’d known how supportive and enthusiastic my family, friends and coworkers were going to be, I would’ve told them I was writing a book so much sooner. These amazing people in my life have become some of my biggest fans. The first time one of my coworkers came into the pharmacy with my book in hand and asked for an autograph, it felt odd. I stood next to these people every day and my signature was all over the place in the pharmacy. Why any of them would want my signature was beyond me. I’m used to family, friends and strangers asking me to sign their copies of my book at this point, but I’m still floored by their enthusiasm. They’ve shared my social media posts, told their friends and coworkers about my books, chosen my book for their book clubs to read and basically shouted about my books from the rooftops because they’re genuinely excited about my writing. Their words have also gotten me through plenty of days when I doubted myself and seriously questioned my choices.
3. There’s more than one way to publish a book.
One of the reasons I waited so long to tell anyone about my book was that I spent a year sending query letters to agents and getting rejected. Each rejection letter reinforced that voice in my head telling me I wasn’t good enough to do this. My best friend kept encouraging me to self publish, but I needed that validation from a professional to believe that my book was good enough. Eventually, I started reading more about the self publishing process and considering the possibility. I liked that I wouldn’t be signing away any rights. The final say on the cover, the story inside, the title and every aspect of the process would be mine. Instead of waiting around and crying over rejection letters, I could be putting my work out there to find its way into the hands of readers. I might never have worked up the courage to go through with it if my husband hadn’t sent my book out for a few professional reviews beforehand. The positive feedback from those gave me the confidence to reach for the stars, start my own publishing company and publish Dream Waters on my own.
4. It’s important to connect with other authors.
I live in a pretty rural town in upstate New York, so finding other authors seemed like an impossibility at first. But I found other authors on Twitter and discovered how supportive the writing community could be. Independent authors are happy to share the posts of fellow authors and help spread the word about their books. I’ve even found an author friend on the other side of the world. We write back and forth every day about our struggles to squeeze time to write into our day, our progress and life in general. Other people in my life are supportive and sympathetic, but she gets it in a way that only a fellow writer can because she’s been there too.
5. Book bloggers are the most amazing people on the planet.
I’m not just saying this to butter them up. I genuinely mean it. Whenever I read articles written by independent authors, they always stressed how crucial book bloggers were to their success. I honestly knew nothing about book bloggers. To me, the whole process of contacting them to inquire if they’d be interested in reviewing my book felt like querying agents all over again. Maybe that’s partially because I read an article that referred to contacting them as “querying.” I just didn’t have a thick enough skin to put myself out there to be rejected again. I wear my heart on my sleeve, and each rejection felt like a crushing blow back in my querying days. I’m not sure what made me reach out and contact my first book blogger, but I couldn’t be more thankful that I did. Book bloggers aren’t the cold pretentious people that I feared they’d be. They’re MY people, book loving people who want what I want, to share the stories they love with fellow book lovers and spread the word about new books that are out there waiting to be read. Every blogger I’ve contacted has been wonderful. Many of the ones who had too much on their plate to review my book still graciously offered to post a spotlight or an interview, as did lots who were excited to read and review my book but apologized that they couldn’t do it immediately (which I never expected them to do). I am truly thankful to all the book bloggers who’ve taken the time to help spread the word about my books. You, my fellow story lovers, are the reason that I write.
Erin Jensen is a part time pharmacist and a full time creator of imaginary worlds. She lives in upstate New York with her ridiculously supportive husband, two wonderful sons that she couldn’t be prouder of and a Yorkshire terrier who thinks he’s the family bodyguard. She’s an unapologetic coffee addict, and her happy place is anywhere she can squish her toes in the sand while listening to waves crash onto shore with a good book in hand.
Follow Erin on Twitter @