Victoria McCune Shares 5 Tips Learned as a First-Time Author

5 Tips on Writing a Book for the First Time

For Victoria McCune, seeing her novel on store shelves and meeting her fans in person still feels strange. 

“It’s indescribable. I never knew that my words could be that powerful,” explains the 2017 Business Administration graduate-turned-novelist

Victoria’s first book, “This is Me Doing Life: My Journey of Self-Care and Reflection,” debuted in June 2019. The title was lifted from her blog an ongoing thread that details her life journey, including “the wins, the losses, the struggles, and the successes.” Among other topics, “This is Me Doing Life” chronicles Victoria’s 13-year college journey, which began with journalism courses at a traditional school and led to her graduating from Ashford University while simultaneously raising a family and caring for her sick mother. 

Though Victoria had used her education to further her career in financial counseling at Children’s Hospital Colorado (located just outside of Denver), Victoria was compelled to turn the life stories she’d been compiling in her blog into a larger, more complex tale. Inspired after reading the Annie Downs novel “100 Days to Brave” in her Bible study group, she set out to make her dream a reality — just as she’d done years before when she wanted to earn a college degree. 

Driven by her creative desires and persistence, Victoria took the first step in what she believes could be a second career as a novelist. Along the way, she learned some important lessons about life, business, and when to stop procrastinating and seize the moment. 

Find out what she discovered about herself during the eye-opening and fulfilling experience.

1. Don’t ignore the voice in your head.

Victoria found a creative outlet early in life when she began keeping a journal. It was a hobby, but friends and family recognized her talent and encouraged to keep writing. Years later, she was required to start journaling again as part of her Bible study, and she came to realize that writing was a calling she could no longer ignore.

“Everyone has told me, ‘You need to write a book,’ and I’d never taken it seriously,” says the Ashford University May 2019 Alum of the Month honoree. “Now, there was no way I could fight it anymore, so I started researching how to become a published author. I don’t believe in coincidences anymore. I believe this is my calling.”

2. The soft skills you learn in school matter.

Though she had switched majors from journalism to business administration when she enrolled at Ashford, Victoria would still get a “writing workout” as an online student. Her weekly discussions and papers kept her skills fresh, and, just as important, she mastered the art of time management and how to conduct research. 

Despite working full-time and taking care of her family, Victoria was able to research the process of writing a novel and connecting with potential publishers. She eventually found the perfect fit, a publisher who had read her blog and saw even more potential in her writing.

“I was looking to put my blogs together, sort of a ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ type of book,” she explains. “My publisher wanted me to write a memoir.” 

The task was daunting, but not too much for Victoria to handle thanks to the skills she picked up as a student and honed at Ashford.

3. Don’t be afraid to accept the challenge.

Throughout her college journey, Victoria encountered stops and starts, shifting priorities, and a challenging curriculum. Yet, she refused to back down and eventually earned her degree.

When her publisher told her that her novel would need to be at least 50,000 words, Victoria wondered if it were even possible. Her publisher, not wanting her to squander her potential, challenged her to write for 30 days straight.  Victoria accepted.

“I wrote about things from my childhood, things that were a guiding light in my life,” Victoria explains. “Before I knew it, after 30 days, I had written 30,000 words.”

Seeing her achievement, Victoria kept writing and ended up turning in a manuscript with more than the 50,000-word requirement.

4. Don’t be afraid of judgment.

“Initially, I was super scared,” she admits. “You’re putting yourself out there to be judged by the public, and I wasn’t quite sure I was ready for that.”

Seeing a positive reception to her book, including five-star reviews on Amazon, has made Victoria realize she was right to ignore her doubts. 

“If my book can help one person, I know it’s not a waste.”

5. Something you learn today may come in handy tomorrow.

Victoria didn’t go to school to become a novelist, but her degree would come in handy when she started to consider a second career. Courses such as Principles of Marketing proved essential when she set out to promote her book. She’s familiar with developing a marketing campaign and connecting with potential readers, and she’s learned a lot about the industry and self-publishing in the process. Now Victoria is in conversations with other publishing companies and says she’ll be better prepared when it comes to the business side of writing, such as royalties and other financial concepts.    

A few days after publishing her book, Victoria had a baby, and she’s planning a book tour after spending some additional time with her growing family. Another book could be in her future, but for now, Victoria is celebrating the success she’s achieved and the two careers she’s made for herself.

“Honestly, I love what I do at Children’s Hospital and it truly is my passion to help people and educate them on government assistance programs,” she says. “I know, honestly though, deep down I am made to accomplish more in my lifetime, and I truly feel like I am meant to make a difference on such a larger scale.”

Victoria’s story serves as an inspiration to aspiring writers and students who need that extra boost of confidence to face their fears and go after their goals. 

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Written by Ashford University staff

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