When I fantasized about being an author, I saw myself sitting on the oceanfront, sipping a tropical drink, happily tapping away on my laptop while the sound of the crashing waves made me feel one with nature. Quite the contrary in reality. Writing at the beach is distracting. Aside from sand getting between the keys of the keyboard, the visually delightful (and not so delightful) distractions broke my flow. Sometimes the noise was overwhelming. Then there was the wind, which brought with it its own obstacles.
Here are some things I wish I knew about being an author I didn’t know before.
1. Time is of the essence.
The days of leisurely taking ten years to write a book are gone. I’m not really sure they ever existed, except in my mind. The reality is, there are deadlines, and not just for writing the book. There are deadlines for editing, revising, proofreading, book covers, promotions and market.
2. Reading is fundamental.
Believe it or not, reading creates a better writer. Reading, besides enjoyment, is like research to the writer.
3. Talk is cheap.
In other words, do less talking about your story and more writing. When you talk about your story instead of writing it, it’s sort of like letting a little air out of the balloon. At least for me, the more I talked about my story, the harder it was to write that particular scene.
4. Keep note pad and pen handy.
I could be enjoying dinner with my family when an inspiration or character situation would come to me. I’ve been sitting in traffic when a scene inspiration would arise. In that instance, I used my phone’s voice feature to record the scene before it was lost to my faulty memory.
5. Genre is important.
I wish this one wasn’t true but it is. Not only that, you’d better get the language right. No one is dizzy with desire in Thrillers. No one’s eyes are darting or walls bleeding in Romance, and you’d better know what a galaxy is if you’re lost in space. Readers know their genres and if you screw it up, you’ll have a huge mountain to climb to redeem yourself.
6. Authors are stereotyped.
Tragically, authors are seen as tormented and fragile human beings. I’m not sure how this came to be, but I wish it’d go away. It’s depressing and generally (hopefully) not true.
7. Marketing is my job.
It doesn’t stop at the conclusion of the book. Marketing begins the moment you decide to write the book and doesn’t end until you retire the book. It’s like raising a kid.
8. Not everybody is excited that you wrote a book.
Most people are impressed at the level of commitment it took to complete a novel. But, I’m neither the first nor the last to have achieved this goal. Perhaps if I broke some literary record, like the most days and books on a bestseller list. Or maybe the most books adapted to screenplay. Ah, a girl can dream.
9. Reviews are important.
Whether you like it or not, your work is going to be critiqued by the general public. People who use their hard earned money to buy your book, then spend several hours reading your book, have every right to critique your book. It’s a good thing, because if their review is good, other people will take a chance on your book, too.
10. It’s fulfilling.
The process of writing is fun but having a finished product is like nirvana.