Why Finding a Community Saved Me.

It’s 6 am and a tiny hand is poking me in the cheek, less than gently nudging me into consciousness. I ignored it for a moment but based on the wide awake giggles around me I know my toddler isn’t going away. I sit up, kiss my tiny one on the cheek and get my day started. Three kids equal a busy day of cooking cleaning and running them too and from school. The above-described my life when I began my writing career five years ago. I had few mom friends because honestly, who has time for friends? I was trying to write while juggling family life. Something everyone knows a bit about, I’m sure.

Out with friends

Time passed. I began releasing books and my children grew. As they grew, they became more independent, and I had more time for writing. I was certain that was the key to being happy with this budding career. However, two years in, I found myself more miserable than ever. And then something happened. I went to my very first book conference! It was UtopYA in Nashville, TN.

My husband is probably about as supportive as they come, my kids incredibly loving, and when I find time for friends I remember how lucky I am to have them in my life. What I experienced at UtopYA changed everything. That weekend revealed to me exactly what I was missing. I needed a community in the book world, peers that understood what I was going through. Now I have always been an independent gal, so if you know me, you may be puzzled by this revelation. Let me tell you why the indie book community saved me and my writing career.

  1. Someone else finally understands you. That’s right; you thought as an author your struggle to balance life and work was your personal cross to bear? You thought the voices in your head made you weird - okay they do, just don’t talk back to them in public… You thought nobody understood the emotional roller coaster you lived on each time you poured yourself into a book and then released it into the wild? But you’re not alone! There are women and men out there just like you ready to relate to and help give you that peace to know you are not alone in the world.

  2. When you fail, you can unload that sadness on your spouse, but unless they have been in your shoes, they can only offer you love in return. Let me give you an example. In 2014 I hosted a book signing and conference. Abbi Glines was kind enough to be the keynote speaker (if you haven’t read her books, what are you waiting for?). We shared some meals and shop-talk, and I walked away inspired. Like a crazy person I jumped in and changed all my keywords and categories to my books and watched my modest yet decent ranks plummet on Amazon. The changes meant I went from selling to NOT. Visibility is everything. I came unhinged. I cried to my husband I was quitting; everything was ruined… A bit dramatic, but I am the creative type, remember? He suggested I talk to Abbi. We spoke on the phone. She talked me down from my ledge, and I was ready to start rebuilding my audience. Then something happened. Something unexpected. My sales had skyrocketed before I did a thing. I couldn’t figure it out. And then my husband showed me a tweet he found where Abbi shared my books. She didn’t have to; she didn’t even tell me she was going to. She had read my books; she cared, and she showed it. FYI, this street runs both ways, so you have to be just as invested in that community. Trust me; you will want to be because once you jump into the pool, these are amazing people.

  3. Let your joy run wild; they’ll never judge. How many times have you posted great news on Facebook only to delete it, worried it might come off as bragging? Maybe I am alone in this, but I am careful what I share. These small successes humble me, but when they happen, I still want to squeal with excitement. Find the right community and you all get to celebrate together because they understand there is enough success to go around and ultimately we are better off together. So rejoice for and with your friends.

  4. Get ready to be schooled. Early on success seemed like lightening in a bottle. If you were lucky enough to hit it big, that was the only way to get discovered. When I found my community, they began to teach me all the many, many, oh so many things I still had to learn. I figured out about this snazzy thing called selling books takes marketing and a lot of it. I became a sponge, soaking up their gift of knowledge. Now I am eager to help others even though I am still always learning myself.

  5. Did you know that women with close friendships are less likely to die from disease? A 2006 breast cancer study found that women without close friends were four times as likely to die from a disease as women with 10 or more friends. Proximity and amount of contact with a friend weren’t associated with survival. So literally, my book friends are saving my life. On the other hand, I also know if I get sick or go through a loss this is a community I can rely on for more than just book related support. When my brother-in-law passed away, it devasted me. Countless members of the author and reader community rallied around me with support.

So there you have it, folks. Proof as to why a community of friends can save us. I hope you join my community by following or friending me on any of the following social media sources.