Life of an author: 7 Ways to Keep the Creeping Bitterness at Bay

Yesterday I read this article: http://www.marcandangel.com/2014/09/28/20-things-to-remember-when-you-think-youre-not-good-enough/  I loved it enough to put on my Facebook Page and then I decided to write my own list, specifically for authors.

I wanted to roll myself in blankets with Rosie.

Every author has days they just want to hide under the blankets.

Every author has felt the creep of bitterness when they watch another author do well publicly. We want to be supportive to one another, but deep inside, is a little voice asking “Why isn’t that me?”

Right now, there are the fall releases. Most authors have author friends. And a lot of them are putting out new books. A friend and I went to a reading for two authors in our acquaintance. We stayed for the reading, but during mingle time, the friend was anxious to leave and overwhelmed. Why? Because she was jealous. Her first book just had another rejection and here two of our friends  seemed to have all the success in the world.

Guess what? I know the inner workings of these two authors well enough to know that they don’t have it all. Yet, even I, feel that creeping anger that overtakes my being and stops me from moving forward. You see, I talk a good game and I hide it well. But it’s always there threatening to break out. This is how I control it.

1) Remember EVERY BOOK has a sales arc from release date to current time.

Every book’s sales drop off after the release blitz. Every Book. Some will hit the top 100 lists and some won’t. Not every book from the same best-selling author will hit the best seller lists.  But every book goes up after its release and then comes down.

2) Remember EVERY BOOK has good and bad reviews.

I’ve had epic reviews where the reader said I’m their new favorite author and I’ve had reviews that said Other Systems was boring. Who is right? They both are. A review is an opinion. And everyone is entitled to their opinion especially since I asked them for it!

3) Remember EVERY AUTHOR has a budget for PR.

Some budgets are bigger than mine. I can’t control that. I can control how I spend my own money and remember that just because this book didn’t do as well as I like, doesn’t mean that the next book won’t.

Now here’s where it gets personal….

If I had been afraid to go through this gate, I would have missed one of the most beautiful and interesting gardens in all of IrelanD!

If I had been afraid to go through this gate, I would have missed one of the most beautiful and interesting gardens in all of Ireland! So Be FEARLESS!

4) Don’t be afraid to write what you want to write

I write what I want to write and have basically told people to fuck off if they tell me to write something else. (Depending on the relationship with the person, this will be a gentle or harsh.)

No, I don’t write about YA vampires nor do I write spanking fantasies about women being dominated by billionaires.To be clear, I am not dissing any author who writes about such things as long as they are writing about these subjects because they want to. 

I am saying If I wrote such a story, it would be shit. Know why? Because I don’t care about that. I don’t even care about the Hunger Games wannabe dystopia stories though they are closer to what I write. Not because these subjects are better or worse than what I write, but because I would be a poser and no one likes a poser.

I write serious hard science and hard social science fiction. My inspirations are Margret Atwood, Vernor Vingeand David Brin

Sometimes I also write horror or epic fantasy. My inspirations are Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Tanya Huff.

These are the authors I read for pleasure. Notice something about the authors I listed, they have two things in common. They are authors who write for adults. and no matter what the setting deal with real life issues in their writing.

No one makes me write this. It’s a tough road, but a road that I put myself on willingly.  I really don’t care what other people think I should write. I’m living the dream–and so can you–just remember every great dream has a bit of a nightmare.

5) Go your own pace.

It will feel that everyone is moving faster than you. They are releasing ten books a year while you’re struggling with writer’s block. I once let a publishing contract pass me by. It hurts when I think about it sometime, but I know I did the right thing for me. I nor my project would have been what the press wanted from me.

6) When it gets too hard, reach out for help. 

I think most authors want to help. I love helping. Hell, even if I can only give you a hug (real or metaphorical) and pass you along to some one more qualified, I will do that. And if you  happen to run into jerks, write them off, and come over to my side of the inter-webs.


7) Five Words: I am a fucking author. (And if you need them add another seven…Nothing can take that away from me.)

I wrote a hard science fiction novel and it was published. I wrote, created artwork and self published 4 graphic novels and a comic book series. I have had a few short stories published. This is where I am in my career. It has taken me eight years to get this far and I’m not stopping.

No one can take that away from me…not even death. I might not be remembered, I can’t control that, but I used the time I have in a way that I feel is worthwhile.

IMG_2058

Here is me at Norwescon’s Writer’s Row last year.

If you wrote a book or a short story or a blog post you are an author. You created something out of nothing. Be proud of that.

Plus one extra tip for no charge: Figure out what  gets your hackles up, and do your best to ignore it.

America loves an instant Success story and a get rich quick scheme. Right now, that’s publishing an e-book on Kindle.

Being an author is work. No one just poops out novels or trips over a publishing contract. My pet peeve is every bio from a best-selling author that starts with “I never thought I’d be an author…. ” I’m calling out bullshit on that. Then I stop reading and go about my merry way.

So Authors Friends, what helps you?

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8 responses to this post.

  1. That was great. And very timely for me.Thank you.

    Reply

    • Thank you for your compliment. I’m glad to know it helps.
      Personally, I’ve been dealing with the “Gee, I suck” issue (which leads into the bitterness issue) so it’s timely for me too.

      Reply

  2. Posted by Denise on October 19, 2014 at 9:36 am

    I just love it when you say “fuck”!

    Reply

  3. Great post 🙂

    I think the trick lies in not taking yourself too seriously. A healthy perspective, in other words.

    Also, I keep in mind that we’ve all got a long way to go, and the journey is so much more fun when we have friends with us. So, I’m all for your #6! It’s not a competition; if I sell well, that doesn’t mean I’m stealing your readers, and vice versa. 🙂

    Reply

  4. Know what I love? Sitting in a really boring meet and work, pretending to be paying attention but really plotting the next chapter in my book. So much more thrilling than ordinary life. Great post. Thanks for the lift!

    Reply

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