What it’s really like to be an author

being an author

So today I’m going to be debunking some myths and basically just discussing what it’s like to be an author, because sometimes there’s some confusion on what it’s actually like…so here I go.

Myth #1: Being an author is glamorous.

I’m going to be frank with you.  Being an author is not glamorous.  I don’t know how this myth came about, but for some odd reason authors in movies and such are always portrayed as these super rich, snobby, beautiful/handsome, worldly creatures.  Not that there aren’t authors who make tons of money – there are, obviously – but for the most part, nope.  Writing is hard, and publishing is hard, and being an author is hard.

It’s hard work, not only the writing, but the marketing as well (because – let me debunk another myth for you – publishers don’t do all the marketing).  Authors are authors because they love to write, not because it’s easy money.  You most likely can’t make a living off of being an author alone.  So if you know some authors, show them some love, buy their books, etc.  And if you’re thinking about becoming an author, I’m not trying to discourage you at all – just go into it for the right reasons; because you love it.

Myth #2: Writing is easy.

So I published my first book when I was fourteen and I guess I can understand how this gave everyone around me the impression that writing was easy, but I got a lot of people coming up to me with the attitude that, “If Pauline, a kid, could write/publish a book, then surely I can too!”

It took me about a year to write my first book, another year to research querying, send out letters to agents and publishers, and then finally research and attempt publication.

Nonetheless, I had people coming up to me, asking how to get published and even – *gasp* – how to write a book.  Writing is not easy, guys.  And if you’re a fellow writer yourself, I’m preaching to the choir.  You know how you sit at the computer at three in the morning, banging your head against the keyboard because you’ve been there for three hours and absolutely nothing has come out of your brain and onto the paper.  You know what it’s like to start a story from scratch, tearing your hair out the whole way through because one day you love it and the next day you hate it.

Authors don’t just sit down and write a book, smiling and drinking coffee the whole time like it’s no big deal.  It is a big deal.  It’s one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.

And yet, I keep doing it.

Myth #3: Publishing is easy.

If this were true everyone and their brother would be published.  Publishing is not easy at all.  I started querying agents and publishers when I was thirteen, researching and emailing like crazy, and finally signed with a publisher at sixteen.  That’s three years.  And even though that’s not an astronomical amount of time, it’s still a long time to wait.  It is hard to get a publisher.  It’s an insanely competitive business.  I have so many rejection letters filed away in my email account I could probably turn them into an entire book of rejection compilations.  I’m talking hundreds, here.  Probably more.

Myth # 4: Once you get one book published, you’re in.

Okay, kind of.  I guess.  But not really.  Just because you found a publisher who agreed to publish one of your novels doesn’t mean that they are guaranteed to publish anything else by you.  If your book is successful and they like your next works, then yeah.  But they always have the right to turn you down again.  It’s just the way it works.

 

A few other things to consider….

 

Being an author consists of a lot of WAITING.  Publishing moves at an absolutely glacial pace.  It takes roughly a year to write and edit a novel.  That’s long enough right there.  I’m going to assume on average a year to find a literary agent or publisher, and then another year once the contract is signed for your book to come out.  That’s an average of three years.  And other than the writing a lot of that time is spent refreshing your email inbox hoping for some replies from literary agents and publishers.  It takes a lot of time.  Lots and lots of it.

 

Being an author consists of a lot of REJECTION.  In case you hadn’t guessed.  You will face rejection and criticism left and right and I’m not trying to discourage you if you’re a writer, only help prepare you for what’s coming.  Develop a thick skin and soon.  Because authors get tons of rejection letters and tons of criticism (not to mention the bad reviews that come after your book is published – because EVERY book gets at least one).

 

So basically writing isn’t glamorous, easy, or money-making.  That’s depressing, right?  But the main thing is that authors love to write.  That’s why we’re here.  We write because we love it to death and can’t stand our lives without it.  And we work hard and stay up nights grueling over a keyboard for the satisfaction of seeing our books in print.  Not for the money or the fame (fame? What’s that?) or the “glamour”.  But because we love it.

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2 thoughts on “What it’s really like to be an author

    • paulinecharris says:

      You’re welcome, I’m glad you liked it! I just felt like I was completely in the dark about all this stuff when I first wanted to become an author and I had so many rude awakenings along the way and a post like this would’ve been nice to see. 😛 lol!

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