My Book’s First Birthday: Lessons Learned and Surprising Insights

book copies of Beautiful Messterpiece on a dropcloth and caption Lessons & Insights from my book's 1st birthday with deana farrell

A book’s first birthday is a big milestone. But that one year can really creep up on a girl once the launch dust settles. And I use the term, launch, loosely because I had no idea what I was doing!

See, it was about one year ago that I self-published, self-funded (y’all, editing & book design are pricey, but worth it), and cluelessly took on the role of chief promotion officer (because it was the most budget friendly option – FREE) of my very first book. Hence, making it the book’s first birthday.

picture of Deana Farrell's book progress with actual paper chapters taped to a wall with caption about book progress

If that part sounds messy, you should hear about what it took to get her written!

Pictured is what I came up with during my self-editing process while deciding which chapters would go in what order.

Yes, pen to paper and then fingers to keyboard (sometimes a mix of both). NO use of AI or a ghost writer, in case you were wondering. I mean, with all the push and permission out there to “just use AI” to write your book for you. Clearly I have opinions on this, but that’s for another time.

photo of deana farrell's book You're A Beautiful MESSterpiece on a rattan background

Anyway, if you haven’t met yet, here she is!

Isnt’ she a beauty? Proud book mama, yes.

Acting like a stage mom spending all my time waiting to pounce and tell everyone about her and how awesome she is…not so much.

It’s honestly taken me about a year to figure out why. Why promoting her in any kind of way was so hard for me this last year.

Let me sum it up for you in one word, expectations.

My expectations were somewhere between, “Whew! God, that obedience step was scary, unexpected, and hard at times, but I did it! Yay! Now, what?” and that of the movie, Field of Dreams, “Build it and they will come. . .”

Meaning, if I wrote the book and “put it out there,” raving fans, buyers, and those hiring speakers would just start walking out of the proverbial cornfield.

Apparently, Hollywood is a liar and so was my logical thinking on this one.

Book lesson #1 learned: book promotion is a marathon, not a sprint.

Promoting a book (or fill in the blank for your BIG project) takes time, consistency, a strategic plan, and ACTION.

Albeit, that action can and most likely will be, messy, but without action, your project isn’t going anywhere.

Now I’m not saying I didn’t promote the book at all. I did, but not with the consistency and strategic plan that was needed to reach the goal I had in mind. Which brings me to my next lesson.

The reality of support versus readership: book lesson #2

I’ve learned that support does not necessarily translate into readership. While there may be 100’s of copies of my book out there in the world, not every one has actually been read.

So many wonderful people have cheered me on and celebrated my milestones, but still haven’t actually read the book.

At first, it was a little discouraging, but I’ve come to understand, appreciate, and truly value their sheer willingness and enthusiasm to support me by even having the book!

Besides, life is busy!

Plus, without the author (ME!) sharing consistently about what’s IN the book, how helpful it can be, and what those have read it are saying – clearly, it can be easily forgotton.

My book’s first birthday lesson #3: Reviews are important

I used to think book reviews were nothing more than a vanity metric for the author. Which if we were to pull the thread on that one a little more, it would liketly lead to another reason I didn’t promote as much as I could/should have.

Boy, was my mindset wrong about the importance and relevance on book reviews!

See, reviews help potential readers understand the value and impact the book based on the insights of those who have read it.

Reader reviews help guide someone looking at the book toward an informed decsion of whether or not your book is a good fit for them.

Book reviews also help increase its ranking and visibilty on certain platforms. This makes the book more discoverable to potential readers.

screen shot of Deana's book ranking during her release

My book received a majority of its reviews in the first two weeks of its release which helped it to rank #9 in the Christian Living/Time Management category on Amazon for a hot second.

P.S.
Choosing a category and subcategories for your book is no easy task either! The three I landed on are: Christian Business & Professional Growth, Women & Business (Books), and Personal Time Management

Every review, no matter how short, plays a significant role in each book’s reach. So please take the challenge and time to review your favorite books!

Aside from the lessons, there have also been some surprising insights to come from reflecting on my book’s first birthday.

While a lot of things have surprised me along the way in this first book journey, but for the sake of this post, I’ll share two standouts. (as of right now)

The Power of Core Values

Core values have been practically a core value of mine for a few years now. I say it that way because its the ONE post-it note piece of advice I can give to anyone who thinks they are struggling with time management.

Chapter 3, which focuses on core values, has become a cornerstone for both myself and my readers. It has proven to be as popular as it is pivotal for many. I often point people to it when they need a foundation to build on for clarity and direction.

Understanding and living by our core values is transformative, and it’s heartening to hear how many people have found this chapter to be particularly impactful.

part of a keyboard, coffee cup, Deana's book You're A Beautiful MESSterpiece and the top portion of the printable 3 Keys to Prioritized Focus

Oh, and I have a chapter dedicated to untangling time management and another about choosing priorities. (click the image or here for a great cheat sheet reminder about the Keys to Prioritized Focus)

Now back to sharing that other top surprising insight from a year’s journey from manuscript to published.

The unexpected need for my own advice has not only been a surprise, but a bit of an understatement.

If personalities were elements, I’d tell youd I’m all Fire/Wind. I’m an enthusiastically passionate ignitor and innovatively carry ideas with forward thinking. So when I learn something that I believe can be of help, I’m sharing it quickly and with gusto!

Knowing that and acting like I remember it, can sometimes get lost in the muddled mindset. That one I allow to festor and ultimately hinder my progress.

I wrote this book to help others from the perspective of my previous self. Or so I thought.

Now I’m thankful I have a place to tangibly go and grab hold of filled with reminders of what God really says about me and my mess.

There are days when I can’t believe how much I need to be reminded of how effective and helpful it is to have and implement those Prioritized Focus methods that God was so gracious to reveal to me!

This book is for MESSterpieces who forget that what God has prepared for you, He’s been preparing you for!

Deana leaning her head on her hand with the caption Girl, give yourself some grace!
  • Despite the mess of daily life situations and circumstances that keep you busy, but not productive
  • Even when you’re forgetting who God created you to be and too afraid to pursue her.
  • Right in the middle of the thought loops that keep you from believing you’re ability to achieve

It’s a humbling reminder that personal growth is an ongoing process and responsibility. Only you can do it, but it doesn’t have to be done alone! The principles in my book are just as applicable to me as they are to my readers.

My book’s first birthday is not only an opportunity to celebrate, but also realize how much God knew it was a guide for me as much as anyone!

As I move into the second year of this book’s life, I’m filled with gratitude for the lessons learned, the support received, and the grace of God to carry me this far. I’m excited to continue this journey, armed with the insights and experiences of the past year.

Thank you for being a part of this adventure. Here’s to many more years of growth, learning, and Prioritized Focus for Beautiful Messterpieces like us!

learning & growing through one mess at a time right there with ya,

name signature Deana
Deana with a stack of signed author copies

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