Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Thursday Thirteen: Thirteen Things No One Tells You About Being An Author

Well, maybe almost no one.  I've had the privelege to get good, sound advice from other authors and it makes an amazing difference.  So for today's Thursday Thirteen, I thought I'd share my baker's dozen of things that most authors won't ever tell you on the way up....

1. When it happens, it will happen fast.
A very good friend of mine in the music industry told me this more than seven years ago and I've never forgotten.  In the nine months or so since my first novel emerged into the world last December 29, six full length eBook novels, two out in paperback, multiple anthologies and more coming, I will say he's right.  No matter what you expect, the experience is like a fast roller coaster ride so hang on.

2. You will work your butt off.
In our daydreams, our fantasies about the day we make the leap from writer or would-be writer to published author, not many of us think about the realities but dream about best seller lists, talk show appearances and fat bank accounts.  Whether or not an individual author ever attains any of that, the one thing you can count on is that you will work your butt off.   Writing is just the beginning, then editing, then often more editing, then promotion, promotion, promotion.  

3. People will think you're either rich or delusional.
You'll find that some people in your community, once they realize that you have a book or books out there will wink and make comments about your wealth as if we all start out with six figure advances.  Or, the general public will look askance at you and decide if they know you, you can't be a "real" author so it must be a bunch of made-up crap.

4. If you don't love promotion, learn to suck it up and do it anyway.
I came out of a background in broadcast radio and writing ad copy so the notion of promotion wasn't as strange to me as to some authors.  If you're lucky enough to sign with the Big Six, you might get someone to do a lot of the PR for you but for most of us, if we don't promote, no one else will.  I am so thankful for the other author friends and colleagues who help promote my stuff and I return the favor whenever I can.   But the reality is if you don't promote, your works will fall out of sight fast.

5. If you work at home (as I do) most people will think you're at leisure.
This includes well meaning school staff who, if you have children, think you should be able to come cut out colored letters or shapes for their teachers, play hostess at teas, be a room mother, run a book fair etc.  It includes organization who think you have all the free time in the world and family who thinks that you're a one stop babysitter, listening ears, chef, and bottle washer.

6. The first time you head out in public wearing your oldest jeans with the rip in the knee, that stretched out of shape T-shirt and hair streaming in tangles, that's when someone will recognize you.
It never fails - rush out on an errand that should take a few minutes and run into someone who says "Oh my God, I read your book, it's great" all the while staring at you like you just grew a second head and you know they're going to go blab that the "great author" dresses in rags and doesn't care how she looks.

7. Your family is divided between lukewarm and major cheerleaders.
Within my extended family, I have those who aren't at all impressed with what I do for a living or the books I've written or what I've done.   I'm still just "Lee Ann", that bratty little kid, smart talking teen or whatever.  On the flip side, those relatives who I value the most, are among my biggest cheerleaders, proud and happy, ready to do whatever it takes.  Some of my dedications mention this - and when "Guy's Angel" comes out next year, the dedication will mention cousins and others who helped make it possible.

8. Sooner or later you will get a review that makes you wonder if the reviewer even read the book.
Yes, it will happen.  Among the great reviews, the not so great, you'll get at least one that describes your book in a weird way that leaves you scratching your head and wondering if they read it or if they confused it with something else.

9.  Be a good juggler especially if you have a family at home.
I've been a working mom outside the home but believe me, working at home isn't easy and it presents more challenges.  When you work at a "real" job, your kids know they can't call or text you on a whim or ask you to bring that folder they forget to school or pick up their pictures at the pharmacy.  Because you're home, they expect you're going to cook meals, make brownies, clean the bathroom, and all that...no matter how many deadlines loom in your personal windshield.   And don't forget school events, etc.

10. People will want freebies.
It amazes me how many people think I should be handing out copies of my books, especially the paperbacks, like free samples at the supermarket.   I wouldn't expect my favorite local restaurant to give me free meals, my doctor to offer free checkups, a bookstore to just give me a brand new book, the florist to hand me a bouquet of roses because they like me or the supermarket to let me carry out steaks or seafood so maybe I'll buy more later.   I do give out a few books to a few special people but I don't get an unlimited supply of free books and please don't expect me to give everyone I've ever known a copy!

11. No matter how well you write (or think you do) your work will be edited
It's a reality and rather than gripe, whine, or bitch about it, learn to appreciate what the fine hand of a good editor does for your work.   I see so many authors who act like their work has been desecrated by an editor when in reality, an editor enhances and makes your work better.   As I told a fellow author - who happens to be a Catholic sister from my parish at a local author's faire, editing teaches me to writer cleaner and better.

12.  Some people will love your work, some will hate it.
You will never get a 100% love thing going.   It's not possible.  Even the most popular, bestselling big name authors have their detractors and you will too.   I'm often accused by some of writing "dirty books" or any number of other less than positive comments.   That's balanced, however, by those who do like the books but you can't let the naysayers bring you down.  Everyone has them.

13. If you don't treat writing like a real job, it won't be one.
If I have a secret to my so-called success, this is it.   When I decided that I could approach writing each day with the same dedication, devotion, and diligence I've given to outside employment, good things began to happen.   That means you work everyday, you finish all tasks, you don't play around even when the only boss watching is yourself, and you work hard.

And now a piece of news I'm dying to share.....another of my romance novels just made the leap into paperback....KINFOLK from Champagne Books is now out as a paperback and can be found here:
http://champagnebooks.com/shop/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=500






3 comments:

  1. Thank you so much for this - funny, wise, and encouraging! Visiting from Thursday 13.

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  2. Fortunately, I went into publishing knowing some great people and hitting some great sites, so I didn't have any surprises. But it's great to have a list like this to make me smile and be a reminder of where I am in all of this!

    I'm lucky, the only family I have contact with are all cheerleaders. But I assume my extended family is unimpressed, so it balances out.

    Happy T13,

    ~Xakara
    13 Things to Do

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  3. Everything you said is 100 percent true.

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