2022: The Year I Published a Book (er—well, 2)

“I’m Julie Navickas. I’m an award-winning published author. The journey just started, and I have a lifetime to reach my destination—whatever that may be.”

It’s the time of the year where we all reflect and flaunt our successes, right? I mean, that’s what social media is for—showing off the versions of ourselves we want others to see. And while I’ll absolutely admit to falling in line with this at points in time throughout 2022, I wanted to write my December blog with the purpose of sharing the honest truth behind the lessons I’ve learned on the path to publication.

Because if I’m being fully transparent, there were a lot of tears this year. There were author events where not one person bought either of my books. There were days my TikTok views capped out at 50 for seemingly no reason. There were months I definitely spent more money in marketing efforts than I made back in sales. And with certainty, I annoyed several people in my life with my incessant obsessions over every detail of the ever-evolving Trading Heartbeats trilogy (I have an obsessive personality, what I can I say? ISTJ: Myers-Briggs, anyone?)

Now, I’m not saying that this year was one for the rubbish bin. I saw a lifelong dream come true thanks to Inkspell Publishing! From cover design and interior formatting to Amazon and special edition hard cover copies at Barnes & Noble, I stand indebted to the kindness of Melissa Kier. Without her, I’d quite literally not be here writing this reflective blog today.

A colleague shared this CBS news story with me after my last disappointing author event at the local library. And it really got me thinking. There will continue to be bad days. There will be more days where I don’t sell a single copy of my books. But it’s about the journey, not the individual moments of “failure”.

So, in reflecting on my 2022 book journey, I will not create a list of my “successes” – but I sure as hell won’t create a list of my “failures” either. Because I didn’t fail. I learned, and simply took the first baby steps in my author journey.

Here are my top five take-a-ways 2022 taught me:

Clap for yourself, even if no one else is. This sounds so whiny and narcissistic, but it’s not meant to be. What I simply mean is that as authors, we have to cheer ourselves on day in and day out. We’re our own motivation to keep writing, to keep marketing, to keep selling books.

There were so many days this year I just wanted someone to say, “you’re doing a good job.” Having never published a book before, the marketing and sales expectations were a ride I didn’t know I had to get on (repeatedly). There were definitely moments I felt like I was flying blind, just replicating what I saw elsewhere. I’m also horrible at data and tracking anything, so knowing what worked (and what didn’t) challenged me daily. But what I learned is that my efforts were most certainly better than no efforts at all. It just takes one viral video, and I’m ready for the front row seat on that ride in 2023! Come on, #BookTok!

Other authors are NOT the competition. I’m naturally a competitive person. I blame it mostly on the endless parade of organized sports I was forced to play as a kid. And as an elder Millennial, I played in the days before everyone earned a trophy just for showing up.

Tennis, softball, volleyball, choir, band, and cheerleading (sixth grade counts, right?) aside, I learned quickly this year that other authors are most definitely NOT my competition. In fact, they’re ironically the best cheerleaders and supporters I could ask for (see, that sixth grade cheerleading experience taught me something!) I’ve met an incredible amount of fabulous authors this year—and each one either offered a bit of solid advice, shared my posts with a sweet comment to their network, or literally bought my book and left a review. Why the heck was I thinking these women were the competition? Believe me, there is plenty of room in the bookstore for us all. Literally, everyone is welcome!

Choose you (for at least one thing every day). I work full-time. I also work a part-time job and teach classes on the side. I have a husband and three kiddos under the age of six. I serve on professional boards, the PTO, and have two elderly dogs who need a medley of pills multiple times a day. Life is freaking busy, but if there’s something 2022 has taught me, it’s that I owe it to myself to do something that fills my cup too.

So, whether it’s a few hours at night after the kids go to bed or a free fifteen-minute break over the lunch hour, I do something for my author career every day. Because it’s my passion in the purest form and makes me feel better than anything else I do (don’t tell my kids, LOL! I’m a good parent, I swear!). But I can’t be a good parent unless I’m at peace. Writing offers me that, and when I learned to make it priority, I found the balance I desperately sought.

Not everyone is going to like my books. The first time I got a 3-star star review, I felt like vomiting. How did someone give me a, dare I say it, average score? As a self-proclaimed overachiever, there is literally nothing worse than someone rating me as average. I, of course, took offense to it and focused on it more than any of the pile of 5-star ratings I’d already received.

And honestly, I kind of obsessed over it, not really understanding what warranted the 3-start review. I Loved You Yesterday has earned three individual awards for crying out loud! But here’s the thing. Not everyone is going to like me work. Not everyone is a reader of contemporary romance. Not everyone will enjoy a spicy love triangle or an opposites attract trope set in Chicago. And it’s fine. I’ve learned to accept that after this year, I cannot take offense to it.

It’s about the journey, not the destination. I just contributed to a BookBub article this exact piece of advice. In fact, subconsciously, I think that bit of advice is what inspired this entire exploration of truth. My entire path to publication has been about the journey, not the destination—because if I end up on the USA Today Bestsellers List or not, I’ve left my mark on this world in the only way I know how… with my words. I started writing in 2020 as a desperate act to reclaim my mental sanity, that I have no final destination in sight. But somewhere along the line this year, I started obsessing over attaining fame. I’m not Colleen Hoover. I’m not Nora Roberts. And I never will be.

And 2022 taught me that. I’m Julie Navickas. I’m an award-winning published author. The journey just started, and I have a lifetime to reach my destination—whatever that may be!

Published by julienavickas

Julie Navickas is a nationally recognized contemporary romance novelist with Inkspell Publishing, known for her keen ability to weave heart-wrenching, second-chance love stories through relatable characters with humility, humor, and heroism. She is also an award-winning instructor and academic advisor in the School of Communication at Illinois State University, the public relations manager for Burning Soul Press, the social media strategist for Labyrinth Made Goods, and is a continuing education instructor with Heartland Community College. Julie is a mom to three children: Lily (5); Colton (4); Brady (2), and has been married to her high school sweetheart, Thomas, for ten years.

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