If you’re an author, your success is growing, even if it’s only from one book and ten readers. This status vaults you into the public eye. Are you ready?

The accolades from strangers about your storytelling prowess can be strangely invigorating. The growing number of five-star reviews is intoxicating.

Authors tend to work alone. We’re at home in our jammies with our computer, ofttimes a cat or a dog too. Maybe you even have a few curtain climbers toddling around. Yet we can be known on the international stage. To some, you’ll only be little Katie’s mom, or a dog parent (Stanley’s dad). To others, you could be world famous. When I ask if you’re ready, I’m asking if you can stay above the noise, find new plots and characters, and then tell that story. Rinse, wash, repeat.

I know you’ve already thought about your book being cheered, your characters beloved, your plots lauded as intricate and enticing. The readers want more! Can you produce another volume that’s better than the first? You spent your whole life thinking about the plot and characters you used in those initial books. How will you respond to those inevitable readers with bitter voices and angry words?

We sit here at our computers, alone and very afraid that we might stop measuring up. But you will. As you get better at your craft, you’re going to find that your standards will rise, and you’ll tolerate fewer and fewer of your own foibles. You’ll challenge yourself to do better.

But a word of warning: you must not create a standard that you can’t reach. That’s the kind of pressure that crushes a soul. As you move forward in your career, you’ll gather a team of insiders whom you trust because they want the best for you and your stories. Listen to them. They’ll tell you when you’re being a nob. They’ll tell you when the story is good or even great. They’ll help keep you on track.

Don’t give that power to strangers, only your insiders. How can you trust someone whose motivations you don’t know? Think about those one-star reviews. There are people who are so angry with life, their only desire is to bring everyone else down. See that for what it is.

And sometimes you’ll miss the mark. You’ll hear about it. And it’s okay. That’s when you’ll know that you’re ready.

Craig Martelle

Craig Martelle

High school Valedictorian enlists in the Marine Corps under a guaranteed tank contract. An inauspicious start that was quickly superseded by excelling in language study. Contract waived, a year at the Defense Language Institute to learn Russian and off to keep my ears on the big red machine during the Soviet years. Back to DLI for advanced Russian after reenlisting. Deploying. Then getting selected to get a commission. Earned a four-year degree in two years by majoring in Russian Language. It was a cop out, but I wanted to get back to the fleet. One summa cum laude graduation later, that’s where I found myself. My first gig as a second lieutenant was on a general staff. I did well enough that I stayed at that level or higher for the rest of my career, while getting some choice side gigs – UAE, Bahrain, Korea, Russia, and Ukraine. Major Martelle. I retired from the Marines after a couple years at the embassy in Moscow working arms control. The locals called me The German, because of my accent in Russian. That worked for me. It kept me off the radar. Just until it didn’t. Expelled after two years for activities inconsistent with my diplomatic status, I went to Ukraine. Can’t let twenty years of Russian language go to waste. More arms control. More diplomatic stuff. Then 9/11 and off to war. That was enough deployment for me. Then came retirement. Department of Homeland Security was a phenomenally miserable gig. I quit that job quickly enough and went to law school. A second summa cum laude later and I was working for a high-end consulting firm performing business diagnostics, business law, and leadership coaching. More deployments. For the money they paid me, I was good with that. Just until I wasn’t. Then I started writing. You’ll find Easter eggs from my career hidden within all my books. Enjoy the stories.

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