Do you really have to work at being an author?

Back in the good-ole-days, which really weren’t; authors had to work hard! Imagine typing out a manuscript by hand, only to have to type out several versions with each edit? Physically having copies made, then mailing around the world, for an answer that may never come.

With the advent of technology you’d think it became easier, and yes it has, but it’s also become more of a system and the author is now as much a writer as a marketer (of themselves).

Many writers loathe the idea of self-promotion. Even if they are confident about their work they don’t want to be the ones out there singing their own praises. They’d rather someone else did all the promotion. However, the idea there was ever a time free of self-promotion is a little fanciful.

Authors are their own brand. Sure, if you publish with Penguin and you get into every book store, assuming people go to book stores still … you will get a lot of exposure without lifting a finger. It will also help if your huge publisher designs a drop-dead-gorgeous cover, promotes the heck out of you online and offline and so on.

But for the average author?

The average author doesn’t support herself/himself by their work alone. The average author has 3 jobs and runs between writing and promoting (trying to sell what they write) as well as doing other jobs (most commonly, teaching or a related field like editing). The average author couldn’t pay their rent/cat food bill on what they ‘earn’ from their writing alone. Ways to achieve this include teaching writing in one form or another, editing, workshopping, or doing something unrelated to ‘top up’ what they earn from writing.

Before you feel dispirited by the reality of this – consider that they are STILL writing and STILL an author and STILL passionate about (creating) their work. So in many ways this ideal we carry around of being an author and nothing else, is what hurts us. We need to be flexible to make it truly work for us. This has been true of authors long before any of us were born and will be true for the majority of authors in the future. To believe we’ll be the next J. K. Rowlings and write a book and become rich from having lived in poverty, is a lovely fairytale and not applicable to the 99.9 percent of people trying to write for a living. So let go of the dream and create a real one for yourself instead.

One of the realities of being an author in 2022 and beyond is; you need to sell to justify what you do. Is this harsh or just reality? Who writes into a paper bag? We want to be read. We want to sell. Even if we say we don’t (we do). So how do we maintain our integrity and ideals of creative freedom whilst being realistic about selling and publishing and all the loathed aspects of the writing world?

Get a publisher who is on your side and will help you promote your work rather than just passively publish it – or vanity-press publish it, with no investment in YOU.

Remember that if you loved music because of a cover of an album, the same applies to books, and don’t just slap together a cover from bits and pieces. Really give it thought – better still – ask your creative friends to help or if you can afford it, commission a designer for your book cover.

Get an editor who will give you the skinny on your slip-ups and make your product the best it can be – which in turn will impress publishers no end because publishers LOVE polished manuscripts.

Find people who love to read your genre and persuade them to advance reader review your book so you can improve on what you’ve written with real-world-feedback.

If you cannot find a publicist or agent, don’t despair. One benefit of 2022 and beyond is many authors nowadays don’t have an agent, which means less agency-fees. Whilst it’s true the biggest publishers still won’t touch you without an agent, if you struggle to find one don’t let that stop you. Small and medium sized publishers often accept unsolicited non-agent manuscripts, providing they are polished. It can be beneficial to you to work directly with such a publisher and big publishers often re-publish successful indie level books.

Get out there and get your work known. Use the power of social media and technology, ensure you have an online presence including a website. How can you expect anyone to take a chance on you if you don’t exist online? It’s pretty easy to create a Facebook page, and other social media presence so that people interested in your work can find you. It helps you and it helps market you to publishers.

Consider your genre: Market yourself according to your genre (the subject you write about) so others who like this genre can find you. When submitting to publishers, consider letting them know what you intend to do to market your own work, it makes you sound invested and a partnership in your own process, which is more attractive to publishers.

Yes you really have to work at being an author as well as writing. Anyone who says being an author/writer is ‘easy’ obviously hasn’t spent years grafting their work, getting multiple rejections and having to market themselves when they feel like they have no confidence to do so, but that’s exactly what has to be done. Despite this (or … in-spite of this!) Authors get published all the time and even if you have to do more than ‘just be an author’ to earn your keep, you’ll still be able to do what you love (write) and that counts for a lot when we consider what people often have to do for a living. Even if you do have to work at FedEx or a Dog-Groomers on weekends and babysit evenings, to keep the dream, you have a dream and that’s worth everything.

Brought to you by the invested folk at Indie Blu(e) Publishing, who believe in our authors and love you hard working talented folk. We stand by you and intend to do all we can to make your dream a reality. Send us your polished fiction manuscripts in 2022. See our submission guidelines at

Published by TheFeatheredSleep

Editor, Psychotherapist, Publisher.

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