Friday, October 30, 2009

No, Really. Authors Aren't . . .

By Deborah Sharp

This month marks a year I've been able to officially call myself a published author. Since my mystery series debuted with Mama Does Time (Midnight Ink, Oct. 2008), I've done more than 50 appearances, attended several conferences, and engaged in numerous conversations about writing with the average Joe (and Jane).

As a former reporter, I'd never want to make sweeping pronouncements about how things are always one way or another. But I can safely say most people have no clue what life as an author is really like. So, in the interest of accuracy, here are a few things authors are not (at least not many of the authors I know):

They're not getting rich.

They're not jetting all over the country on book tours paid for by their publishers.

They're not magically channeling a muse, with words flowing from their fingertips without sweat.

They're not eager to read the 600-page manuscript your mom just loves.

They're not eager to edit that same 600-page manuscript.

They're not interested in turning your story into a book. If it's a good one, you should write it.

They're not always able to explain where they get their ideas.

They're not withholding the secret to getting published. It's a combination of skill, perseverance, and dumb luck.

They're not coasting after they finish a book. They're probably promoting the previous one or starting the next.

And the No. 1 thing that authors are not: Ever, EVER tired of hearing nice things about their books.

So, how about you authors? What's your favorite misconception? Readers, what discovery about an author or writing has surprised you?


Lisa Bork said...

Great list, Deb!

I can't remember every line or description in my books, although readers seem to expect instant recall.

G.M. Malliet said...

That I will know where or how to get your cousin's poetry published in book form.

I don't think anyone alive knows how to do that, actually.

Alan Orloff said...

Nice post!

That because I'm a writer, I'm not really working - the books just write themselves.

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Love it!

I'm with Lisa--I don't remember the details from my books well.

Mystery Writing is Murder

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

After each point you made, Deb, I went "yep," "yep," "yep."

And the points made by other comments are just as valid, esp. the one about not remembering every line I've written.

One pet peeve I have to add: They're not happy when you rudely block the line at a signing while you recount the entire plot of the book you're writing.

Deborah Sharp said...

Hey, all .... thanks for the nice comments. My hubby and I are on vacation in coastal S. Carolina ... Here's another one I forgot to add: That we writers get zillions of free books to give away to friends and family. Sorry, folks.

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

OMG, Deb! I'd forgotten about the free books thing. YES!!!

Have a fabulous vacation. It's well deserved.

G.M. Malliet said...

Alan - Yes! And you can interrupt writers ANY time because all they have to do is turn the tap off and then back on. It's not really like working, and we can always just resume wherever we left off.

G.M. Malliet said...

p.s. How's the weather in S Carolina, Deb? I nearly went this year, maybe next.

Beth Groundwater said...

Authors aren't ... always good speakers. Many have been forced to learn to speak well, via Toastmasters or whatever other training they can find (including trial by fire), in order to promote. However, just because an author can string words together well in prose doesn't mean the words come out of his/her mouth that way!