There are real, tangible thrills in being a published book author: Your name on a book jacket. The privilege of having your words available to an audience of readers. The knowledge that you are stick-with-it-enough to have finished and published a book. But those who are publishing a book for the first time, or those who aspire to, might have unrealistic expectations of the experience. Here are six common misconceptions about being a published author--better to learn about them now than to be disappointed later!
- Your book will make enough money to enable you to quit your job
True, some authors do make a living at writing books. But the vast majority has other sources of income, as well. And even many bestselling authors couldn't quit their day jobs right out of the gate.
Most authors start out because they have an obsessive passion for their subject or an obsessive need to tell their story -- and they manage to do so in spite of the fact they have a day job, at least at when starting out and sometimes a good deal longer. Tom Clancy sold insurance while writing his first military/espionage novels. John Grisham was an attorney (did you guess that?) who carved out a time to write his first legal thriller, A Time To Kill, in the early hours of the morning before he needed to appear in court. When it sold only modestly, he did the same while writing The Firm. Mystery writer P. D. James wrote quite a number of books while supporting her two children and caring for her mentally ill husband by working as a civil servant. After several years and several novels, award-winning science fiction writer David Louis Edelman blogged about performing a "juggling act" between his writing and his contract web development work.
For more about the business of being an author, read:
• Advice from from Bonnie Daneker, CEO of Write Advisors.
• Advice from the pros who know
• What pro authors need to know about taxes.
- Your finished book will contain exactly what you'd originally envisioned
Not unless you self publish your book (and, even then, some ebook publishing services have restrictions on content). Once you sign a contract with a book publisher, you're essentially in partnership to create "the book," and you both have a say in the end product. From trimming the fat of your language (akin to "killing your babies") to altering the logical flow of the chapters, your book editor will have much to say about how your text will look in print. While your editor is there to make the book (and you!) sound better--and a thoughtful, skilled editor absolutely will do that--you two may not always agree on what's best for the finished book. If you're going to publish, it's good to be prepared for some "creative differences."
For detailed information about the editorial process, read:
• What happens to your manuscript after you submit it to an editor.
• About a book publisher's editorial department
- All you have to do is write the book and hand in the manuscript -- the publisher does the rest of the work
If you find a publisher for your book, chances he or she likes you as much for your marketing "platform" as for your brilliant prose. In general, publishing editorial, production and marketing staffs are hard-working and passionate about books -- but the reality of the editorial process demands a lot from authors. And the reality of the book marketplace dictates that, in order to be successful, most writers need to work hard at promoting their own books and do as much, if not more than, the in-house book marketing and publicity staff (who, by the way, will be each be working on probably a dozen books at the same time as they are working on yours).
To learn about all the facets of book publicity and marketing:
• An overview of book publicity and marketing.
• Six critical book promotion steps to take before your book is published.
• Creating your own book publicity and marketing campaign.
- You get to select your book jacket
Afraid not. The jacket that appears on your book is usually the work of an art department informed by the opinions of everyone from the editor, the publisher, the marketing and PR departments to the sales representatives and sometimes even the Barnes & Noble buyer. Pretty much everyone has his or her say about your jacket--except for you, the newbie author, at least in most cases. While your editor truly wants you to be happy with your book jacket, he or she wants you to be happy with the one they pick for you.
Learn more about:
• The book jacket development process.
• What makes a great book title.
• How to craft a great book title.
- You will get a book tour
You might. But touring authors around the country is very expensive. With so much opportunity for internet promotion, there are fewer and fewer of the non-virtual, several-city variety, so don't count on getting on that plane. And, if you do get lucky enough to get a tour, certainly don't count on traveling anything but coach.
If you do get a tour or develop your own, read:
• 9 tips for book author readings and signings.
- The publisher will throw you a book party
Book parties are expensive and since they rarely generate sales, it is now almost always left up to the author or the author's generous friends to foot the bill (even for fairly high-profile authors).
Of course, being an author does come with bragging rights. But you'll have a happier experience if you don't count on bragging about quitting your day job, or about your ten-city book tour. At least, not just yet!