I must stress that this post is not one written from experience. Because I’m not a successful writer. OK, I understand the need for little steps to achieve this world domination, and at the moment I’m pretty happy and satisfied at where I am.
So no, this isn’t written from the perspective of a high-flying, best-selling author fellow, with the purpose to educate aspiring writers on what they can hope to expect in the coming years.
This piece is merely a ‘what I think it would be like’ to be a professional writer who gave up their day job years ago. These are things I imagine would happen if I ‘made it’. Things that would be different to what goes on at the moment.
If any successful and famous writers do read this (though probably not), you can be sure to tell me how wrong I am.
So let’s crack on then, shall we?
No longer personally thanking reviewers
I love getting reviews. It’s really exciting and I admit I usually (ahem – always) read them more than once. It’s great to see that people are actually taking the time to sit down with some words that you wrote, read them with enough concentration to follow what’s going on, and then choose to share their thoughts with the world.
I always strive to thank them for this, be it a comment on Goodreads, a DM on Twitter, a quick email, or a comment in a retweet. I like to think I’m approachable, after all I’m still just a reader who tried his hand at writing something. I don’t see myself as an important creator of stories that is above the puny readers.
Of course, I’m not saying that those established, household names see themselves as that, on the contrary. It’s just that when you’re receiving many reviews every day I’m sure it’s difficult to keep on top of them. Especially if writing is your job. Hell, they advise amateur writers to keep off social media, so I wonder what the advice to the big names is?
Having your author name bigger than the book’s title
I suppose this is my writing dream, or something. When you start off on this author journey, you don’t have a recognisable brand that people will drop everything to look at and engage with. All you’ve really got is your book’s title and cover. That’s what you want to stand out when potential readers see your book. They may not have heard of you before but that title and cover may be enough for them to read the blurb, and then hopefully buy the book.
Once you’re well established, it kind of doesn’t matter what the title is and what the cover looks like, because readers will have a pretty good idea of the kind of things contained within the pages already.
If Stephen King wrote a book called, say, This Book is a Complete Pile of Sweaty Shit Drenched in Rancid Piss, seeing his name in massive letters wouldn’t put you off. It doesn’t matter what the title is, if Kingo wrote it then it’s probably pretty badass.
Come to think of it, if I saw a book with that title from an unknown indie author, I’d probably give it a go.
Not regularly checking your Goodreads reviews and ratings
This is kind of similar to the first point. But as they say, reviews are so important to the indie author. So with that in mind the relatively unknown literary voice will be regularly having a gander at their reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. You may even get to the stage where you can quote the average ratings for all your books. Maybe.
But again, if writing is your art and actual job, and your publisher or agent reports back on what people are saying about your book, do you really need to go online and find out for yourself?
I’m not sure if professional writers read all their reviews or not, although I’d like to think if I ever got to that lofty position then I still would. But who knows?
Feeling guilty when you give yourself a few days off
As an underground indie author I still feel that pang of guilt if I waste an evening or day off not working on a WIP, a blog post, or a book review. But why should I? This writing endeavour is only a bit of fun, something to do instead of going to the gym, or collecting stamps, or whatever.
But if writing was your sole income, surely you’d feel terrible if you took a few days off. How about writer’s block (if that’s actually even a thing)?
A few days may lead to a few weeks and before you know it, the publisher’s banging your door down demanding to see what you’ve written so far. If you haven’t been pulling your weight then pretty soon you may be back at the day job, telling people about how you ‘used’ to be a writer.
Sharing pictures online of your meals/dog/the weather etc. and obtaining thousands of likes
OK, this isn’t a personal experience; I’ve never posted a picture on social media of a meal I prepared. I did consider it once, when I served myself fish fingers, chips, and peas, arranging them in a pretentious way like in a fancy restaurant, but at the time I was too hungry to bother.
Had I shared the picture I’m sure I would have got a couple of likes, maybe a couple of smiley faces, or whatever. It truly was a piece of art I can tell you. We’ll never know, though, sadly.
But if I was settling down for a well-earned meal after a day working on the third instalment of my best selling trilogy, I’m sure the same picture would garner hundreds, maybe even thousands of likes.
I know it’s all relative. I understand that being followed by possibly millions of people would result in many more likes, something to do with ratios or some shit, but it’s still crazy to think of it.
Fans will respond to whatever you say or share, whereas an indie author can only expect a few responses. And that’s fine. Who cares that a self-published horror writer is having a cup of tea in mug that says ‘coffee’?
Not bothering to review other books
I say ‘not bothering’ but I’m sure it would be fairer to say ‘not having the time’. The whole should writers be book reviewers? debate has raged on in the past so I won’t go on about it here. When you’re ‘a name’ in the literary world, a simple sentence or two about another book in your genre is probably more helpful than a 1000 word glowing 5 star review.
If you saw a book with Stephen King or Chuck Palahniuk’s name under a quote on the cover, you’re more likely to reach for the ‘order’ button than if not.
Perhaps that quote of yours that gets used in the other author’s book promotion was just you mentioning it in an interview or something. Now that is easier than sitting in front of a computer screen to write a review.
Well, that’s my list. I’m sure there’s much more that I missed, because I have no first hand experience of what a best-selling author gets up to.
Do you agree with these points? Either way, thanks so much for reading this far. If I ever become a household name I’ll be sure to try and do the opposite of everything I’ve just said.
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