Confession #5: Writing a Book and Being an Author are not the Same

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One day after Thanksgiving, and I guess it’s time to set up the Christmas trees.

Let me start off by saying that I hope your Thanksgivings were all as pleasant as mine. I’m pleased to say that this is my first Thanksgiving in about three years that I was able to spend at home, now that we’ve moved back to my home state.

I intended on publishing another post today, but decided to forego that one so I could talk about this. I generally write my blog posts days or weeks ahead of schedule, and then publish them in that order every Friday. However, Twitter has made me break that chain. Well, not Twitter specifically, but something I posted on Tuesday afternoon.

With NaNoWriMo just days away from being over, I’m already thinking ahead, to doing that final revision to Book 1. I’ve been clinging onto the hope that it’ll be ready for my beta readers by April, and then on to the publishers shortly after that. And that means I needed to start researching how to become published. I already knew that it wasn’t as easy as submitting your manuscript to an agent and/or publisher and hoping for the best, but I’m glad I took the time to do some real research.

And through that research, I’ve come up with this simple but heart-wrenching realization: writing a book and being an author are two different things. It’s one of those mind-boggling geometry statements. You know, “All squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares.” One of those.

An author has to be someone who writes a book, but what makes authors distinct is this whole business savvy. It’s about being able to not only being willing to market your own books, but it’s also about writing books specifically for publishing. You may be thinking that of course you’re writing a book specifically to be published. If only it were that simple. According to one of my research books, Publish Your Book: Proven Strategies and Resources for the Enterprising Author by Patricia Fry, “Inexperienced authors (often) write a book that is not publisher-friendly”. As in, we writers want so badly for our amazing novel idea to be worthy of the space it takes on a bookshelf, and we write it before even thinking how hard it might be to market. Knowing just how many books have been published over the past few years (and it’s a lot; trust me. Like, a lot a lot), it’s really no surprise that publishers ask authors to write books that they can market. But I hate the implication that you have to cater to the audience rather than ask them to listen to your ideas with an open mind. That you have to write for your audience instead of simply sharing a story with them.

I’m glad to say that I think my novel could be enjoyed by the masses, once I spruce it up in the revision, but I can’t really know that for sure until I send it to my future publishers.

Anyway, my point is, I think authors are people who cater to the masses, or who are lucky enough to come across an idea that the masses would coincidentally enjoy. Writers are people who create novels/poems/short stories/what-have-you simply because they can’t stand to not write it. This includes people who want to publish traditionally or self-publish or not publish at all. If you’re a writer, I wish you (and me) the best of luck, because I think we’re going to be the ones who will really have to work hard to get our books published. I admire you for your dedication and determination to see this thing through, as I have, especially if you started this journey knowing that this would be a long and bumpy road.

As I said, I’ve got a handful of other posts lined up already, but any major breakthroughs I make in my publishing research, I hope to share with you.  So stay tuned, future Published Authors/Writers.

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