The Two Words That Made a Difference
You’re a new or aspiring author reading our websites, social media pages, looking at pictures from book signings at book festivals or bookstores and you may feel a bit intimidated by us. That bestselling author who has a movie based on their book or a television show taken from the pages of their works, you sit there at home wondering if you’ll ever be one of the many who are now enjoying the fruits of being published, hoping you’ll meet one of ‘us’ one day. The answer is that it is possible. There are a few things you have to know first.
The book business is highly competitive. Every author from traditional to self to print on demand publishing and now e-books, are in a race to acquire the biggest readership possible for their titles. Marketing and finding the right PR person to assume that role is the deciding factor in whether or not your book is a success or not. Several new authors who I spoke with recently have already discovered this and are making the most out of their resources.
Beyond the push to sell books at events and individual signings, you wonder how is that author you admire? What is that person like behind the celebrity status we give them and a number of authors give themselves? (Actually some are celebrities). Based on my experience, it varies from pleasant and cordial to aloof and a touch of overconfidence. Nine years ago, I met a gentleman who was a bestselling author and one of the ‘trailblazers’ in this industry. When we met at an literary conference, I smiled and politely told him although I was joking at the time, “I plan to be just like you one day.” Turning directly at me with his own smile, he said the words that still ring in my head to this day.
What? My mind froze hearing those two words that made a big difference in the way I approach my works, producing events, etc. Instead of the arrogance writers have been criticized for, this quiet response to my wish calmly convinced me that not all authors who published books earn the label of hubris. In the course of time, as books are produced at a massive rate, the satisfaction and the pride of an accomplishment from all types of circumstances is worth it when a dream turns into reality in print touches the palms of a happy writer. However, that accomplishment is only one step of an author’s life. It now must find a way to promote it whether it be word of mouth or finding a credible person to help get the word out. What I have seen – perhaps a bit too much these days – is authors believing their own press and any hint of criticism towards their work is an assault on their character.
Keep in mind the book does not determine a person’s worth. While the format of the title or subject matter may not be appealing to a reviewer or reader, the author who took time working on the book isn’t a bad person. It may not have been the right time or style for the public. This is why it’s so critical when you, the aspiring author, need a target audience. That audience whom you have targeted as supporters for your book are the ones you may know quite well who will give your book the proper push it needs. Again, the book business is a highly competitive one and oftentimes literary professionals will speak words that may sting or not under the attitude of being constructive, but the author needs to have just enough tough skin to avoid a criticism on a website or social media.
Back to the bestselling author, he wrote a provocative title (in the years before erotica and street lit took off) and his demeanor seemed as if he didn’t care less about what was said about him. He continued to be who he was, whether he wrote a book or not. This is the one thing aspiring authors should keep in mind. The book is an accomplishment yes, but it shouldn’t be an excuse for you to suddenly assume you know everything there is to know about publishing, how to be a successful writer, etc. It takes years to absorb all the knowledge, suggestions, advice, you name it. There will be a time for you to drop the ego and tell another aspiring artist what the gentleman told me:
Yet, no one likes to be passed over, it would be a gigantic blow if that happens. The author who has been out of circulation for a while, with multiple titles to their credit may feel as if they need to claim what they believe is ‘theirs’. Real students of literature know this is false, as over time it didn’t matter how many books were sold, rather the social, cultural and emotional impact of a title determines its historical value. This might be cruel to say, but in ten, twenty years the bestseller’s book may not matter because of the drive of something new, something original, something ‘fresh’ for book lovers everywhere. The constant drama among writers, their groups and their ‘haters’ will disappear under a sea of pages written, social media posts and websites no longer registered.
If there’s a lesson in all this, please keep in mind bestselling, longtime and even new authors are the best people to associate with, even the celebrities who have released a book. Like everyone else, it’s the attitude of the creators of the inanimate or digital object and how they carry themselves is what you’ll find as you get to meet these literary artists up close. Then again, your hero worship may end quickly if a personal meeting isn’t what you expected. I can only say that I am glad for the simple two word advice I received from this bestselling author (who ironically as of this article, has not published a book in recent years) was worth it. I believe the author who is supremely confident in himself and his work is the one who is willing to open the door for others inspired by their works. In short, they have no trouble being passed.
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