What does it take to follow your dreams? Are there certain people who find it easier than others? Is it better to stay with what you’re comfortable with or leap into the unknown?
My journey from teacher to author and businesswoman.
4 years. Wow. It’s been 4 years since I took the first step toward realizing my dream of becoming a published author.
April, 2017. I was working part time as a kindergarten teacher. I had been a teacher for 12 years and was comfortable in my position and at my school. I enjoyed it and planned on doing it for life. My daughter Cami was 7, my son Wyatt was 4; I spent my “days off” taking care of Wyatt. Life was busy and exhausting, but uncomplicated and as predicable as could be expected.
One day that spring, the thought of becoming a published author popped into my head: if I don’t do this now, I’m never going to. I picked up a pen and notebook and started brainstorming a list of things I could write about (just like I taught my students at school). I knew I wanted to write a series about my own kids, Cami and Wyatt, because I had been posting funny stories about them on social media since Cami was 2.
I decided to write the story about Cami sneaking treats, since that was the first funny thing she did. So, I opened my laptop. The first draft was the easy part. I had NO clue what to do next. I didn’t know any authors. I didn’t know anything about the publishing world. I reached out to my family and friends. My sister put me in contact with her friend Lindsay who had just published a book and started her own publishing company. She agreed to meet me for breakfast and a new friendship was born! My first two books were published by her company.
The next important step was me joining some facebook groups. “Back then” there were only a few children’s author facebook groups and I joined them all. That’s when I met my first author friends. One of the first people I met was Shayla Raquel. She’s an author, editor, marketer and self publishing expert. She helped me focus, figure out my next steps and get organized.
That summer I spent HOURS figuring out how to build a website (I wish I would have just hired someone), starting up a business Instagram account, searching for an illustrator and editors and trying to figure out what I was doing (in multiple areas).
Then came Fall. I started researching Kickstarter, a way people can help you bring your creative project to life. I spent months that fall learning about it and preparing to run my own campaign to help fund my book.
Fast forward three years and thousands of hours later…I now I have 8 books in the series. I have run 4 successful Kickstarter campaigns, started my own publishing company, hired someone to build me a beautiful website, my books are sold in over 30 stores and I’m preparing to launch a brand new series about kids changing the world.
So…what did it take for me to follow my dream?
Motivation: I really wanted it and had wanted it for a long time.
Courage: I had to push myself out of my comfort zone and take many risks. I am not a risk taker by nature, so this was hard for me.
Confidence: There were days (especially at the beginning of my journey) that I doubted myself. I knew nothing about this world. Could I really do this? Would anyone read my books? Even though I wasn’t fully confident yet, I believed in myself and my abilities enough to try.
Humility: I have learned to ask for help. It first, I felt I was “bothering” people and just tried to figure everything out on my own, but I finally realized that most people love helping and sharing their knowledge with others. Including myself!
Patience: This was and still is super hard for me and I’m still working on it. Patience is super important when it comes to learning something new. You’re not going to see results right away.
Determination and perseverance: I am naturally a very determined person. When I want to do something, I set my mind to it and I don’t give up until I do it. This can be frustrating and stressful for me, as I am also a perfectionist and my expectations of myself (and others) tend to be abnormally high. I have learned that I can’t control everything though and have tried to be more flexible.
Being a learner and willing to grow: I knew nothing about the business world (marketing, publishing, selling etc) and I’m still learning new things every day! You have to be willing to put the time (and money) into researching and learning when you’re diving into something new. There are so many awesome resources out there for you to tap in to! One of the first FREE resources that helped me was Kindlepreneur. I also spend a lot of time searching and reading posts in the Facebook groups I’m in.
What am I up to now, 4 years later?
*I am still writing! I am working on book 9 in Cami Kangaroo and Wyatt Too and launching a nonfiction series called Young Change Makers.
- *I am helping other aspiring authors with their publishing dreams. Check out my online school. I also do consulting.
*I have my own publishing company and just published someone else’s book! There is not a submissions process, but I will work with you to get your book published! Set up a consult with me for more details about this.
Will I go back to teaching someday? Possibly. I miss it and I still love it. Right now I’m enjoying learning more about marketing and the publishing world. The business mindset is SO different from the teacher mindset. It’s a lot of work (marketing is 90% of self publishing), but I love it.
So…can anyone follow their dreams? YES
Is it hard? YES, but it is possible.
Is it the same for everyone? NO, of course not. Everyone comes from different backgrounds with different experiences and personalities.
The bottom line: If you have a dream and you want to do something about it, take the first step. Do the next right thing and then after that, take another step. One step, one day at a time. Make lists. Ask questions. Don’t give up. Tell yourself you can do it. And you will.
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