Welcome to the world of self harm and mental torture…
O.K. so it’s not that extreme, but you do have to be a little crazy to become a modern day author. I’m enjoying a quiet patch during the promotion of my second book and taking a little break from writing my third, so I’m passing on some experience to those staring out.
What Does It Take To Be A Modern Day Author?
I scoured the Internet, cruised around writing blogs and read loads of books concerning the author gig. When I say research, not all the boring practical stuff such as purchasing desk, laptop, thesaurus and a machine to mainline coffee. The actual steps of getting published. What does it take to create a successful novel? Does effective marketing assist in a book’s success? How I can get involved in the whole getting paid part? This research took several months.
I tell you, it’s a massively dull read.
Talk about eyes rolling back into my head, sleep drool and pinching myself to stay focused, but it is mandatory reading for any modern day author. I’ve read the stuff, made a few mistakes and put it all to the test. Albeit, I’m still seeking representation. After self-publishing two books, I’m still sending query letters off to literary agents – but more on that later.
The Basics for all Modern Day Authors
The next logical step to landing any job is scoring an interview. Even an author has to go through the usual processes starting with the job interview. All employment interviews require the same things, on a basic level, even the job of being an author.
The three basic requirements of every job interview:
2. Appropriate appearance
3. Confident smile
Transferring these to the job of an author:
1. Query letter
3. Ability To Handle Rejection
You’ve typed your resume – query letter (we will go into detail and an example in a later blog post). This one page letter introduces you as an author and your book. Basically, it tells a publishing house or literary agent what your story is about, who it is for – target audience, and how great you are. The ability to upsell and overstate capabilities and experience are useful here. Hyperbole is your friend. I’m not advocating going to town on the truth and flat-out lying, rather tweaking it. Agents are not particularly interested in inexperienced new authors, so overstating your credentials gets your tootsie in the door. Big fat lies gets you thrown out.
Next, complete your manuscript, (yes it must be finished) and then plaster a smile upon your face – the ability to handle continuous rejections.
That’s the basics for any aspiring author: query letter, a manuscript – completed and revised and professionally edited… and nerves of steel.
Every modern day author needs a healthy dose of fortitude. If you’re channelling delicate blossom, every criticism and rejection will result in you summoning the cold compress, the smelling salts and a family sized tub of chocolate chip ice-cream. You don’t want to become an author to end up as a burnt-out, obese nut-case.
To guard against the downward spiral into insanity…
I recommend picking up a few extras:
2. Over Confidence
3. Self Delusion
Purchase this little commodity called Perseverance early, as the business of being an author involves bruising knock-backs and crushing criticism. Perseverance will help you continue on when times get tough. These two can be relied upon to remind you that you’re the greatest and able to achieve anything. Over Confidence and Self Delusion will assist you through rejections, shield you from criticism and most importantly, protect you when Self Doubt arrives to mess with your head.
The fact of the matter is if you don’t believe in your work, and think you’re the modern day incarnation of Shakespeare, you’ll eventually give up. Being self deluded and overly confident keeps an author in good spirits and pursuing goals. I’ve read some modern day marvels of mediocrity and wondered how on earth they got published. I put it down to the overly confident, deluded authors who just wouldn’t accept no for an answer. So it works. Allow Self Delusion and Over Confidence to continually prop up your confidence and feed your ego.
That’s a good start.
Next post, we will bust the myths about authors. Delusions have that nasty habit of blinding people to the obvious. Let’s avoid that palaver and get the reality checks on before you start..