You’ve probably heard of THE glass ceiling.
There is another glass ceiling that everyone encounters that has nothing to do with gender; it’s a glass ceiling of negative beliefs.
I dreamed about my writing career since childhood and strived toward being a career novelist. I had “big ideas.” But even while writing and working toward this dream, I went through some hard times and picked up some very negative beliefs. At the lowest point, I was afraid to speak around other people because I felt they were secretly laughing at me and thought I was stupid. This would shock the people who know me now.
The funny thing is, sometimes it’s easiest to dream big when you’re knocked flat on your back.
It gives you that break in life to stop and ask, “What do I really want?” I started at this point in early 2007 and realized I was responsible for making my life the way I wanted it. The lesson I’ve learned wasn’t one “aha” moment that changed my life, rather it started with some little moments and successes.
To convey the fullness of this journey, I have to tell my husband’s part in it.
We met and began dating in late 2007. Lem completely supported my writing and dreams and helped me by challenging many of my self beliefs. He pointed out that they didn’t come from the truth, and weren’t how most people perceived me. Although he didn’t call it a glass ceiling, I began to see I had a giant wall to break through, and it wasn’t an outside force pushing me down.
When I talked about what I wanted, he’d ask, “And why can’t that happen? Why not?” He also says, “If you walk in a direction long enough, eventually you’ll get there.” Dreams don’t happen overnight, but they’re reachable.
My small successes began building into a pattern. Soon I looked for new things to accomplish and felt I could be successful through belief and action. These could break the glass ceiling. Just recognizing that I was holding myself back shot a crack right down the middle of it.
In 2008, I had three novels accepted by small publishers and had ventured into self publishing in print with The River People. I’d been following the publishing industry since middle school and wanted to explore all the different options. I was also publishing other authors, mostly as a hobby, and Lem asked me, “Why don’t you do that as a job?”
The next day I launched a website for my new self publishing business, and soon a few people across the US and locally came to me for help. This was the summer of 08, and shortly after that I began looking for writing jobs online.
I started on iFreelance and Elance and, after a few months, was making a modest living through publishing and freelance/ghostwriting. It did take a lot of bidding, taking some low-paying projects, and work, but it was worth it. I continued to look at other freelancing sites and joined Guru. It turns out this is the biggest site and, in my opinion, has the best projects and security for freelancers. Now I work exclusively through Guru.
There were times of doubt, of course. I don’t think you can shatter that glass ceiling and be done with it. I removed it piece by piece and sometimes caught myself rebuilding it, but I pushed forward.
Publishing and ghostwriting allowed me to do what I love and further develop my writing skills in a wide spectrum of genres.
I ghostwrote business books, novels, papers and many other projects, edited, and helped people publish their books while writing several more of my own novels.
In the end of 2009, I jumped on the Kindle bandwagon and began publishing my books as ebooks. I began to see more and more successes with my writing, including my book sales.
Like many other authors, I still dreamed of writing my own fiction full time. To begin working toward this new goal, I created an author page on Facebook in March of 2011 and began to focus on reaching more readers online. I published two more novels to Kindle, bringing the total to six. (I added two more later in the year, making eight novels plus a nonfiction book.) By then I was excited about my writing and had high hopes for “making it.”
I interacted mostly through my Facebook author page, Writer Kristen James and then @WriterKristenJ on Twitter. Right away, I noticed many authors promoting their books…sometimes to the point of annoying me. So I strived to focus on fun information and joining conversations, and I tried to keep any true promoting to a small percentage. That said, I announce specials, sales, big milestones, guest blogs and blog hops.
The big lesson happened this last summer when I began seeing more and more results from reaching out to people online. My Kindle book sales began climbing. At some point, all the little successes turned my hope into belief. I no longer thought, “I might make it!” Instead I thought, “I’m headed in that direction, and I’m reaching it soon!”
I shared a story in this post that I normally don’t share. I’ve put my best foot forward to my readers and find myself happily running ahead, excited about the future, but I wanted to pause and look back toward the bottom of the mountain of my personal journey. It’s rewarding to marvel at how far I’ve come, and very rewarding to share this story and encourage others. If there’s a glass ceiling holding you back, you only have to crack it to start. Remember, of course you can make your dreams happen!
I’ve gleamed a few other insights during the past year that I’d like to share:
- Malcolm Gladwell wrote about 10,000 hours in his book Outliers, and how putting in time is what propelled people to success. Overnight “successes” are simply the result of all the work beforehand. When I look at what I call “the big names,” I can see by the sheer number of books they’ve written that they’ve put in hours and months and years.
- Readers love authors with a backlist. If a reader discovers your book and loves it, and then sees you have 5, 10 or 15 titles, they’ll buy them.
- Readers are drawn to happy and interesting people, not pushy promoters or people who post about their books constantly. If you can draw people in with your personality, they’ll check out your books.
- Readers love to win books. Offering a free book from your site just can’t compare with some kind of giveaway.
For more tips and insights on promoting ebooks visit my site at www.bookpromoting101.com.
Have you had to break through your own glass ceiling to write your books?
Learn more and connect with Kristen James at www.writerkristenjames.com.
@writerkristenj on Twitter