Wednesday, 17 July 2013

How not to be a pain in the arse author


I have a book out - keep it under your hat.
For most authors, that moment when you first hold your book in your arms, or see it sleeping gently on screen, is one you'll remember forever. I expect having a baby is a similar delight. Or maybe a kitten. But stop for a second and think about how other people be feeling about your new bundle of joy. Sure, it's the most beautiful thing in the world to you and you want to share the experience with everyone you meet. But here's a list ponder first, to help you make the transition into book parenthood without too many sleepless nights.
 
1. Give it a rest
Yes, you've written a book. And that's all well and good, really. But not everyone wants to read your book and, in fact, some people will be irritated by the fact that you've completed a book when they, like so many others, have merely talked about doing it.

2. These things take time
If someone says they'll read and review your book - and thumbscrews haven't been applied - they'll get round to it eventually. Sending reminder emails, and behaving like a small dog bouncing up and down beside an empty food bowl, is not going to change the laws of the space-time continuum. Not in your favour, anyway.
 
3. The graduate
Don't look back in rancour (closest synonym I could find, honest) when someone asks you for short cuts to good writing. Think about the people who have helped you along the way and how much less painful it could have been if you'd had a few more insightful pointers early on. Share some goodwill.

4. Guerilla marketeer or cheeky monkey?
God loves a trier, so they say, but some attempts at publicity are just bad form. Hiding your bookmark for others to find in your local bookshop, or the library, or people's coat pockets on the train. If you're passionate about your book then try talking to people (however, see item 1 above). And mailing flyers to celebrities is a waste of a good stamp. And an envelope. And a flyer.

5. Big boots, big ideas, big deal!
Your book is out there, so naturally you want readers, readers and more readers. And naturally you've read up on how to use the power of the Internet for your book alone. But...please don't talk about your social media strategy and the movie rights to your book; oh, and let's not forget that indie publishing house you've got planned. However, a little patience wouldn't go amiss, dude. If you really want to succeed, take decisive steps and the first of those is to do rather than say.

6. Here's my badge
To be an author is a wonderful thing. You made the journey and you have a book to show for it. You may even have readers and reviews and be money up on the deal. Even so, maybe you should wait a while before you start giving out unsolicited advice, offering to run workshops on the basis of your one book, or working out a set of tariffs. At least until you have a year's worth of healthy bank statements and another book in development.

7. There is no party
Somewhere in the darkest recesses of school*, we developed this idea that all the cool kids had their own special club. There was no meeting place and no rules; they just fitted in. Many authors are life's observers and that's one of their strengths. But when you start to get the success you feel you deserve, don't mistake that for the actual fulfillment of being a writer. Whether your book ends up on the bestseller list or in the remainder bucket, you're still a writer and there is no party. Hence, no golden ticket, no proven magic formula and no sense is lamenting what other writers have. Someone, somewhere, could be looking at you and feeling the same way.  


What irritates you about new authors?


* A deliberate play on words - see what I did there...

8 comments:

Gillian McDade said...

I think you've said what a lot of people think...

Thrifty Gal said...

Hahaha! Great advice.

Derek Thompson said...

As Homer Simpson would say: "It's funny 'cause it's true."

Carl Ashmore said...

This is a great post. And so very true.

Derek Thompson said...

And another illustration of the benefits of exhaustive research!

Lindsay said...

Great post! I was asked by a self published author to write online reviews of her book, but the truth was, the book was unbelievably bad so I could not do so. To write what I truly thought would have been cruel, (and to tell her why I wouldn't, equally so) to write anything other than the truth would be damaging to my credibility. When I was non-committal, the author persisted until I think the message was eventually received! So I would say ask, but don't keep badgering!

And yes, I've been showered with bookmarks etc etc!

Derek Thompson said...

Hi, Lindsay. Yes, it can be a tricky one. That's the benefit of a good writers' group - constructive and honest feedback.

MaryJ said...

Love the title of this blog. A good warning to any of us with a new book.
It's important not to take ourselves to seriously.
All best

MaryJ