- We don’t live glamorous lives. Sure, there are those handful of celebrity authors who are going to their movie premiers and live in mansions. That’s not life for the other 99.99%. Most writers either have another job to support themselves or a spouse who contributes greatly to the income. Although surveys differ on the average author income, they all seem to agree that it is well below the poverty level. (Somewhere between 1,000-6,000 a year.)
- Bad reviews hurt our feelings. Many authors don’t even read their reviews because they can read ten glowing reviews, but the one cruel review will ruin their day. Writing that book was our best effort. We put our heart and soul into it. How can it not feel personal when someone criticizes our writing–or almost as bad, our story or characters? That’s not to say that every negative review leaves us in tears. Some we pass around to other authors and laugh about. Others we shrug off because we know not everyone has the same taste. And some we even listen to and use to improve our writing in the next book. (I’m planning to rewrite a novella and turn it into a full length novel because so many reviewers said they felt it was too short.)
- Our villains, yeah, those are frequently based on real people. If you’re a jerk to a writer, you may very well end up in a book being viciously decapitated. So don’t say you haven’t been warned.
- That cover you didn’t like–we didn’t like it either. In traditional publishing, the author has no say about what the marketing department puts on the cover. Some we love, some we hate. The publishers don’t care what we think. This is also why the cover doesn’t always match the story. (I reminded the publisher for Slayers that my main character had brown hair, and the cover model they were using was blonde. They told me blonde hair looked better against the dark background.) Likewise, picture book authors don’t usually get to choose their illustrator.
- Publishers censor our writing. Publishing is a business, and although editors often would love to let us write whatever we feel is artistic, true to the story, or meaningful, they always have to think about what will sell. I’ve known authors who were pressured to put more sex in their stories, and other authors who were told to steer clear of sensitive subjects like abortion. I’ve been asked to take out mentions of religion in several of my books. (In a time-travel book, I said something about people in the Middle Ages being Catholic. It had to go.) Political correctness is alive and well in traditional publishing.
- We feel like our characters are real people too. Readers will often comment that they’ve connected with our characters. We feel that way ten-fold. We’ve been living with and talking to these people for months or maybe years. I once met a guy named Scott, and I started to tell him, “I have a friend named Scott,” and then I realized I didn’t. I had a character named Scott who’d I’d made up and pretended was my friend.
- We love being with other writers. Writers are our tribe, and there will always be a special bond with those who’ve felt the thrill of creating an unexpected plot twist–and the aggravation of realizing you just wrote a week with eight days. There are exceptions, but most authors want to help their fellow writers succeed.That said, we may not have time to critique aspiring authors’ novels, even though we wish we did. We write books in addition to all of our other daily tasks, and so most of us are busy people.
- Most authors don’t have their first book published, or their second, or their third. We write a lot of manuscripts that publishers reject before they buy a book from us. And having a book deal doesn’t guarantee that the next book we write will be published. We worry a lot about our sales numbers. So if we come off as pushy when we’re trying to market our books, well, that’s why.
- We want to quit. A lot. Writing is a hard business and one in which most authors only see minimal success. We get a lot of rejection from agents, editors, and readers. Sometimes writing feels like you’re constantly singing in concert halls in which no one comes to hear you except your mother.
- We love writing anyway. There’s something magical about creating stories, and that magic keeps drawing us back to the computer. We laugh when our character does something clever, and we can’t wait to share our latest offering to our readers.There’s a saying, “If you want to know if you’re really a writer, try and quit.” Most of us just can’t quit.
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