What’s it like being a published author? How do you get there? What are the best tips and tricks to inspire? How often do you need to write?
Authors live and breathe writing and reading. If we don’t, how can we ever hope to get published? Right?
RIGHT. That is true. I wanted to run through some truths and confessions of my life as an author. Maybe this will be a stupid blog post and my rambling thoughts will mean nothing but hey… here we go!
Confession #1 – I did not know Confessions of a Published Author was already a book title.
Oops. Ah well, it’s a good title! So that brings me to my first thought about naming your book. Something I always do when naming my book is go on a frantic Google search to see if that title has already been claimed by another author. You would never name your book A Game of Thrones because it would never compete with a popular book that already exists with that name.
That being said, you’re wondering if you can piggyback off the success of another book by the same title? I confess when I saw that Netflix movie called Relic come out, my brain went to ‘Maybe people will Google it and my book will pop up’ – and luckily no one is likely to get them confused because they are in completely different genres.
I will say, though, that you are looking for a unique title. Don’t you want it to be all yours?! And since we live in a world of social media, I will also say make sure your book and series titles are Twitter friendly. Shorter is better… or at least make sure you can change it into an acronym!
YKWIS? (You know what I’m saying? lol)
Confession #2 – I haven’t read the classics.
It’s true. I’ve barely read any classics. Is that a bad thing?! I admit I find it really hard to read those books – the language just doesn’t flow off the page for me. It’s the same with Shakespeare, whose stories I love, but reading them proves challenging. I’d rather watch a movie of a classic, or listen to the audiobook. I have listened to audiobooks of some of the classics and have mostly enjoyed them!
I’m making it a goal over the next couple of years to read more of the classics. I have just bought on Audible: My Brilliant Career, The Secret River, and No Country for Old Men.
Confession #3 – I dream of Netflix.
When I got my publishing deal, people started going ‘Oh yay so when’s the Netflix deal?’… and I admit this really annoyed me. I was already under so much pressure to publish my first book and people skipped right over ‘Oh congratulations. Let’s work on building that fanbase and those sales.’ to ‘NETFLIX.’
But, I admit, I dream of Netflix too. I have this feeling every time I see Netflix’s logo that one day one of my books will be picked up by them. I can’t explain the feeling I get… it almost feels like certainty. Why? I don’t know. I feel like Netflix and I are meant to work together. And, I guess, I’m trying to manifest my dreams. So, for now, I’ll be like Jeannie and hope that nodding my head vigorously will bring about my dreams!
Confession #4 – I’m having an off-year.
For reading, that is. I’ve barely read this year and I’m kicking myself every day that I don’t pick up a book. I’m not sure what it is… maybe it has something to do with the fact that I moved countries, had to set up a whole new life, did so, then COVID hit and I had to give up my new life, move back home, start again here in Sydney, start a new job, write the third book in my current series, while writing a whole new book on top of that, and figuring out wtf I was going to do back here in Australia while I waited to return to Scotland…
It’s been a BIG year – for the world, but also on a personal level. While I love reading, it does require some effort. It’s not passive the way watching TV is. So I admit, of a night, when I might have normally read… it’s the TV that is winning out most often this year. I’m trying my best to get back into it by reading the genre I love (YA fantasy) and rereading books I know I love (The Host) and it is sooooort of working… but I’m still in struggleville.
Confession #5 – I’m full of doubt.
So many authors are. It’s almost part of the package and something you may have to come to accept before you get published. It’s hard getting edits from your publisher/editor – it’s hard being told something you spent time on needs work. It’s hard getting a bad review – even when you know your book isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s hard imagining a world where I’m a full-time author – because it seems like pure fantasy.
It comes down to this (for me, at least): you have to love it. You have to want it more than anything. You have to because otherwise those doubts and fears will consume you. But I love writing more than I fear the future or a bad review. So I keep at it. And if I’m not writing, I’m thinking about writing. It has to be your whole life.
Confession #6 – distraction is death.
The death of your novel, I mean. I’m being overly dramatic here but here’s my example… I’ve started photography this year. I bloody LOVE it and am building a little website and starting a side biz in it… because I get such a thrill out of photography and I always follow my bliss. But it has been semi-distracting this year. I’m sure I could have written way more if I hadn’t been out there taking photos.
I’m not saying I regret it – not at all! But my point is that you have to be so careful about balancing your life around your writing. If you want to be published, writing has to kind of BE your life. I know so many authors who juggle many balls at once – they’re published authors, parents, have another job, run their own farm… you name it. It comes down to what you’re willing to let distract you and if you’re determined enough to work that much harder to make writing a priority.
Photography has become a priority for me – I get such joy out of and sometimes it even helps inspire my writing. But it still has to take a backseat when writing needs doing.
Confession #7 – Not reading is such a turn-off for me.
Everybody is different and thank God for that because otherwise the world would be SUCH a boring place. But the other night I went on a first date (why, I hate dating lol) and the guy, while perfectly lovely, was not a big reader. I mentioned how I met Neil Gaiman and he asked ‘who?’ – which is totally fair! I don’t know most people in the world – only a select few that I find interesting. *laughs*
I’m not saying non-readers are living the wrong life, not at all! My dad doesn’t read. He genuinely struggles to read. Always has. Confession – he hasn’t even read Relic yet! It’s taken him months to read chapter one. He tried the audiobook, thinking that would be his way into it, but he can’t stand the slow pace of audiobooks. Sigh. While a small part of me is like ‘JUST READ IT YOU FOOL’, I so appreciate that reading isn’t for everyone.
But, as an author, I believe surrounding yourself with like-minded people is key. If you have avid readers and other writers in your life, it is going to be a constant source of inspiration. I met some new friends recently who love reading and one night over dinner, they were sitting there going ‘have you read this book? what about this book? this one?’ and I admit I had read NONE of them! So onto my TBR list they went. This is the kind of life I want – one that is consumed by reading and writing.
I could probably go on forever making little writer confessions but I will stop there for now! Hopefully this blog post has given you a bit of insight into who I am and the life I lead as an author. If you are an aspiring author, know that getting published isn’t going to solve all your problems and be exactly what you wanted straight away. It’s hard work… but it is SO worth it!
~ Bronwyn xo