Being an Author These Days Means Doing More Than Just Writing

So okay, when I saw these stock photos by Getty Images released in support of the movie Unifinished Business, I knew I had to figure out some way to use them. I mean, when Vince Vaughn is posing for canned business photos you gotta jump on that!

The real reason I wrote this post is to talk about the fact that these days, if you want to be a working author, you’ve got to do much more than just writing. I know it seems counter intutive but it’s true–for both traditionally and self-published authors.

Finding Readers
Writing books is a tricky profession. Most advice tells you to write the books you want to read, and that’s great but you have to make sure that someone else wants to read them too or you’re not going to sell very many of them. Before you delve into that epic unicorn romance trilogy, make sure there’s folks who want to read that first. I learned this the hard way with my first novel, Burnt Edges. It’s a depressing story and not many people like buying books that make them feel depressed.

Try to find books similar to yours. See how popular they are with readers. A good exercise is to also define the kind of person who would wan to read your book. What do they like to do in their spare time? Where would they normally hang out? Joel Friedlander has a great guest post on his blog that outlines how to find the ideal reader for fiction authors. I suggest you check it out here.

Creating a Social Media Presence
Ah, social media. The bane of many authors’ existence both because most of us are introverts and we hate this kind of stuff and because we’d rather be writing than Tweeting. The unfortuate truth is many readers find you on Google+, Facebook, Tumblr, etc. For those writers who want to land an agent, being on social networks is a must–part of the ever-important platform. Here’s a great post on The Write Life blog about what literary agents want to see when they Google you.

Selling Your Books
These days authors needs to consider themselves more than just writers. We are really entrepreneurs because no one can sell our books better than we can. Yes, even the most nerdy, introverted writer can be an entrepreneur. You are running a business. You happen to be in the business of creating content (books) to entertain readers. If you don’t sell your content, you won’t be able to spend your time creating more. Tweeting, “Buy my book,” won’t do it either.

You’ve got to be more creative about how you sell your books these days because bluntly asking (or even begging) people to buy your books really pisses people off. It’s all about building relationships and that often takes time. You must do something every day that soon compounds into sales, kind of like building a savings. Your Writer Platfform offers this helpful cheet sheet on how to create “word of mouth” marketing plan here.

It’s a lot for a writer to do. None of it involves writing but it’s all essential. And that is reality for working authors today and where the following quote is very appropriate: “Nothing worth having comes easy.”

NOTE: Even though the image has absolutely nothing to do with the content of this blog post, I hope you enjoyed it! :-)



My Favorite Quotes About Writing By Famous Authors

William Faulkner Quote







“Don’t be a writer. Be writing.”
—William Faulkner

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“I don’t think you have time to waste not writing because you are afraid you won’t be good at it.”
—Anne Lamott

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“The first draft of anything is shit.”
—Ernest Hemingway

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“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.”
—Maya Angelou

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“The road to hell is paved with adverbs.”
—Stephen King

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“Close the door. Write with no one looking over your shoulder. Don’t try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It’s the one and only think you have to offer.”
—Barbara Kingsolver

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Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.”
—Mark Twain

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“I hate writing. I love having written.”
—Dorothy Parker

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Can You Really Make a Living as a Self-Published Author?

I’m asking myself this question right now so I thought I’d share with you what I’ve learned because the answer isn’t easy. It depends. Here are the variables as I see it:

How Much You Write
You have to build up a body of work before you become known. You are not going to cash in on the very first book you publish because you are sending your baby out into a sea of thousands of other books that already have a following. The more you publish, the higher the likelihood that your work will reach a wider audience so you’ve got to write and publish a lot.

How Much You’re Willing to Work at It
Anyone can write a book and publish it these days. Even with self-publishing becoming more of a quality endeavor, many people still think a self-published book is not as good as a book published by say, Random House. You absolutely MUST publish a book that is on par with a book like The Fault in Our Stars or Gone Girl as far as quality goes.  That means you’ve got to work at the craft of writing to create the best book you possibly can. You must align yourself with professionals who are dedicated to that end as well (like editors and book cover designers). The competition is getting fierce.

How Much You Put Yourself Out There
You must talk about, Tweet about, Facebook about, and email about your book as much as possible because NO ONE KNOWS ABOUT IT but you’ve got to do it in a way that’s not “in your face” or “too cheesy.” You must present yourself as a “brand” that people who don’t know you would be willing to get to know. If you think for one minute that you just write your book, publish it, and you’re done…then forget it. You will not be able to make any money at it.

Taking all of these variable into consideration, earning enough money to pay your mortage (if you have one), feed your family, and live your life is still tough especially if you’re starting out. It doesn’t happen right away because no one knows about you. Most of your time and energy is spend getting known when you should be writing. It takes tenacity, perserverance, and consistency.

The Hugh Howey scenario is one in a milion: you write a book, self-publish it, market it, and thousands of people buy it and tell everyone about it. For most of us, it takes writing and publishing several dozen books before we crack into the coveted “Amazon Top 100 Best Sellers,” and those authors don’t ever come close to the New York Times Best Sellers.

I may sound like I’m trying to convince you not to pursue self-publishing because you are likely not going to earn enough to do it full time, and that’s mostly true. I’m actually presenting the reality for those of you (like me) who have your head in the clouds. We will still write, reach for our dreams but we’ll do it without rose-colored glasses on seeing the landscape for what it is and doing what we do because we love it not because we think we’ll make it to the big time.


6 Things I Hate About Writing

Hate is such a strong word but it’s necessary when I tell you that I want pull out all my teeth and hair sometimes when I write. I get so sick of battling the muse that I want to tell her to hit the road and leave me alone!

And now without further ado, here are six things I hate about writing: Continue reading