Every aspiring author desires to be famous like their role models. There is a burning desire deep within you to smash the barriers and emerge successful with your newfound endeavors.
I’m also willing to bet, that you have all these colorful ideas about how to sail your ship, navigate the storm before you, and get productive results from writing and publishing your first book.
Well, you aren’t wrong. It’s okay and very practical to have a plan about how to begin your career as an author, yet, there are a few gray areas I’ll love to point out to you, which in the long run might become a great stumbling block to your motivation to keep pushing forward because you’ve made it out to be what it isn’t.
The worst thing that can happen to you as you make progress with your career is realizing barely halfway through, that you were very wrong about a lot of things and made terrible mistakes along the way believing what you assumed.
These expectations that you have as an aspiring author are valid, but oftentimes, they are mere expectations and assumptions which are a far cry from the reality of things as a published author.
In this article, I’ll be sharing 10 unrealistic writing expectations aspiring authors have Vs the practical reality of things.
What are Writing Expectations?
Writing expectations are those strong beliefs, assumptions, predictions, and hopeful projections that aspiring authors conjure in their minds about the entire writing process and journey before venturing into writing, learning about the process, or beginning their journey as an author.
These beliefs are usually based on what the author wants, what they’ve seen others become, the stories they’ve been told or heard, the need to be like their role models, and the zeal to be different and make the best out of their passion.
As valid as these expectations are, oftentimes, they do not turn out exactly as you may have predicted.
The fact is that your grand plan may fall apart within the first few months of testing the waters and leave you in utter dismay, because the path to success for one author may never work for you.
What is the validity of writing expectations?
While sticking strictly to your writing expectations as an aspiring author can be very harmful to your growth, it is best if you consider using these projections as a base to build upon as you evolve with your craft.
This way, it serves as a guide and motivation for you instead of a yardstick to measure up to.
There is a need to revamp your mindset about writing expectations, dissect these harmful thoughts and accept that things aren’t always going to go as planned.
Writing Expectations Vs Reality
Here are a few of the many writing expectations aspiring authors tend to conjure up in their minds Vs the actual reality of how might turn out to be.
Writing Expectation #1: Writing a bestseller on your first try
You expect to hit the goldmine with your story on the first try. You passionately have this desire to write a bestseller and award-winning badass story that will make the world halt on its spinning axis.
That is an amazing and beautiful plan but,
Your first story may or may not get you very far. It could take your second, fifth, or tenth story to get you close enough to actualize that goal.
It doesn’t mean, your first story was whack or unappealing. No, it simply means you’ve got to keep going until you get there.
Writing Expectation #2: Selling out millions of copies with your first book
There is a general mindset that as soon as your story is done, it automatically becomes a money-making machine. There is this staunch drive to pour everything you’ve got into your first book and ensure it delivers on the money-making front.
While in Reality
Your first book may not sell millions of copies or thousands or hundreds. It may barely make you enough to count six zeroes.
View your first book as a fishing bait to lure the fish to your hook. Treat it as a marketing tool for your author brand and use it to draw in your target readers for future projects.
Your first book may or may not sell out in millions, but you can take advantage of it in several ways to mark your stand as a published author.
Writing Expectations #3: Gaining recognition as soon as you publish your book
Authors entertain this belief about gaining fame as soon as their first book is officially released. There is this anticipation around publishing your book that induces the mind into believing your book is a straight gateway to fame.
While in Reality
Your book is a ticket that gains you access into the world of published authors, it demands you do the work to gain recognition. Publishing your book alone doesn’t guarantee you recognition if you do not put yourself and your author brand out there.
Writing Expectations #4: Growing your reader base with ease
Authors expect to attract and grow a large reader base once their book is published. It is believed that readers should be clamoring to read your books as soon as you announce their release or introduce yourself as authors, which creates a sinking feeling when such doesn’t happen as expected.
Because in Reality
Readers have a preference for the types of books they read and will choose to read stories from a trusted and recognized author rather than a newbie author, unless, you prove to your target audience that your story is worth their time and it delivers exactly the thrill it promises.
To gain this ground and avoid feelings of disappointment, ensure you have a robust plan for pre-launch, launch, and post-launch campaigns to help you bridge the gap between your expectations and what’s obtainable in reality.
Writing Expectations #5: Always have the motivation to write
You may be tempted to believe or begin to assume that writing is easy and there will always be stories waiting to be written when you want them to be written. You assume ideas are infinite, your enthusiasm will always be there and the creative ideas will remain robust as ever, whilst it isn’t always the case.
Writing is hard. It is demanding, tasking, intrusive and time-consuming. You may not always have the motivation to write or have any exciting ideas to write about all the time. You may have to create your motivations to write and develop habits to help you maintain consistency and stay productive as an author.
Balancing your creative work life and personal life may become tedious if you do not create a channel that works for you, so in truth, the writing journey isn’t always rosy but it evolves as you mature and grow.
Writing Expectations #6: Believing your book will sell itself
The expectations to sell out millions of copies are driven by the staunch belief that your book will sell itself and that a book market is a friendly place for all authors.
Whilst in Reality
The book market is a dogged and competitive place with thousands of books released every day. You need to be more than a self-published author to sell your books.
Without proper marketing and advertising plan, your book may only sell a handful of copies.
Writing Expectations #7: Assuming you can do it
One of the biggest mistakes you will ever make is believing you will be able to pull off the jobs of the writer, graphic designer, publisher, editor, proofreader, reviewer, marketer, and publicist in one go. It is a big ask for a newbie author and a dangerous path to tread.
Because in Reality
You cannot do it all. 90% of the time, you need to focus on writing your stories rather than having to divide your time between activities that can be outsourced to professionals.
It is very understandable that you are just starting as an author and cannot bear the financial burden that comes with publishing a book the right way; I suggest you don’t overwhelm yourself and do the best that you can.
Do not rush your release, but rather, take your time to check all the boxes before you hit the publish button.
Writing Expectations #8: Expecting only one book to do the trick
Believing that only one book is enough to carry you over the precipice of fame and recognition may be too far-fetched for a self-published author as against a traditionally published author.
One book may or may not do the trick for you.
For traditional publishing, it takes away the burden of doing major parts of publishing and marketing your book yourself and paving way for the recognition of the author’s book because of the team behind the book. It is not to say that this holds for every author and every book.
Self-publishing engages the author full-time and leaves major parts of marketing and publishing in your hands. Having a strong strategy behind your first book will pave the way for your recognition as an author, but it may take more than one book to hit the mark you desire.
Both traditional and self-published authors build authority around their niche by publishing consistently and creating buzz around old and new projects.
Writing Expectations #9: Believing your first draft is enough
As wrong as this thought might be, it is one of the deadliest assumptions to make as a newbie author. Publishing your first draft out of excitement to have a story is a recipe for bad reviews, loss of authenticity, loss of readers, and reputational damage as an author.
Because in Reality
Your first draft needs more work. Your first draft is supposed to be a collection of raw, unfiltered words that brings your story to life.
Such a manuscript is not enough because it needs more work. Your first draft is undoubtedly riddled with mistakes, plot holes, and grammatical errors and requires structuring and development.
Take your time with your first draft, find an editor within your budget to do the work for you, then ensure you’ve got all the bases of your story covered before you proceed to prepare it for publishing and marketing.
Writing Expectations #10: Expecting everyone to love your story
Many authors fall into the fantasy of believing their stories will be loved by everyone and expect to have stellar reviews all the time. Having these kinds of thoughts doesn’t prepare your mind for the blowback from negative reviews which will leave you devastated if you don’t anticipate it.
Because in Reality
There are trolls everywhere. Your story will be subjected to scrutiny and not everyone will like your story or love your style of writing.
The best way to work through this is to expect the unexpected, celebrate your reviews and take constructive criticism from the negative reviews to improve your skills or make amends for lacking areas of your writing style.
Having expectations as an author isn’t such a bad idea, but it works in tandem when it is tailored to the actual reality obtainable in the writing world. The best way to bridge the gap between your expectations and reality is to be present and emerge yourself in the process before you decide to become a published author.
Tailoring your expectations to obtainable reality will help you avoid unnecessary setbacks and condition your mind to be prepared for anything.