Sunday, October 13, 2013

Author's Don't Work They Just Write

Many people think writing a book is easy, and they don't consider it a real job.  They think all we have to do is sit in a chair typing our stories on a computer, go out to lunch with our friends, eating bon bon's and just working when we feel like it. 

Some of this may be true, but there is so much more involved in writing books. On one of my Yahoo sites, we have been discussing what people think of us. Writers get irritated by the assumption that there isn't any work involved in writing. 

Often times there's research involved before an author can even start to write.  Unless, you're a panster (someone who writes by the seat of their pants) you have to make an outline or synopsis of your story, so you know where you're going.  You have to have character profiles (descriptions of each character, knowledge of their work, car they drive and their home), and usually that's a beginning. This can be a chore just to do that much. 

I'm a panster because I don't want to get locked in, but I, also, do a general outline of some of the scenes I want in the story.  I always do character profiles because I need to know as much about them as I can at the beginning.  There are times I add more characteristics or back story to these characters as I write.  When this happens I often have to go back to the early part of the story to insert hints relating to the add-ins. 

It depends on the link of the story as to how long it takes to write.  Many authors can produce four or more 200 page books a year, but they work all the time.  I know one author who produces 4 books a year for Harlequin, works full-time and goes to all her kids' sports events. She writes while she's at these events, she writes at the beach, Starbucks and anywhere she can.  Another author just signed a 12 book contract with Harlequin.  She won't have a life for a long time because she'll put one out every two months.

Once an author finishes a book, she submits it to a publisher and waits for it to be accepted.  When it is accepted, she waits for the edits to come to her/him.  Everyone hopes the edits won't be extensive, but if they are they'll be life consuming because you are required to get them back by a certain date.  While the editor is editing your book, you have to give the cover artist a description of your hero/heroine, clothes, come up with a possible blurb, etc. 

Then comes the edits for the author, and she/he will go through this process until the editor is satisfied.  I can expect as many as three edits with my publisher, and then the book is published.  Hooray!  This part of the process of writing a book is enjoyable for me.

Then the not so enjoyable part of the work is next.  To be completely honest this is what I detest.  Promotion is a necessity because when you sign your contract with a publisher it's in your contract that you must promote your book.  If you don't, the publisher can cancel your contract.  If your sales are low, they can cancel your contract.  In that case, you will get the copy rights back to your book and you can do whatever you want with it.  Most go to another publisher, self-publish or rewrite the story completely before doing the first two.

Here's how you promote your book: you can hire a publicist if you're rich, do a blog tour (this can cost unless you just use friends blogs), advertise in magazines (costs), Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and numerous other sites.  It's tiring to do all of this, but it has to be done.  All of this requires coming up with new blogs about your books.  It requires a lot of work, and it seems to never end because with the next book it starts all over again. 

It's a whole different ball game if an author self-publishes.  They have to do the cover art, or hire it done, do formatting for the different sites (Amazon, Barnes and Noble and others), and get their book up on these sites.  Everything is different for each one, and it is work.  I will never do this unless I pay to have it done, and I am critical about the way things are done, so I would need to do it myself.

Many authors suffer burn out because of this process.  I've known many good authors who have quit after their first or second book because of burn out.  But, I know an author in her 80's who is still writing.  Smile!  She doesn't do a lot of promotion, but her work is well known.

I prefer to have a life, and I'm trying to find a balance with my writing and my life.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you come back next weekend.  Have a great week.

Sandra K. Marshall



Sandy said...

I left out the part about cleaning house, spending time with hubby, cooking and a lot more. lol

Jill James said...

Sandy, I just self-published a new title last night...twice, because I forgot to do the Table of Contents and had to go back, do it, and upload at all the vendors...again. Whew!! Long night.

Sandy said...

Oh my gosh, Jill, I'm glad it wasn't me. It kills me to stay up after midnight. lol I bet you were up a lot later.

Adrienne Reiter said...

Hi Sandy,
I'm a mystery author so I outline heavily and I have story boards all over my living room. When non writer friends come over they think, oh fun!
It is a lot of work and I do for the 'craft'. Not for money, obviously.
I found you on Book Blogs. I'm your newest follower! ;) You can find me at

Sandy said...

Thank you for coming by, Adrienne. It is work and some of us never finish. lol Thanks for following me.

Amber Skyze said...

Thanks for pointing out how much I don't work. ;)
The live of a writer is NOT for the faint of heart.

Melissa Keir said...

Let me know how finding a balance works! I'm still working on that one! Even with my full time job, writing and working as a publisher, I don't spend enough time doing the things I love.

Sandy said...

You're so right, Amber. Thanks for coming by.

Melissa, once you get involved in this industry you have no life. lol

Kelly Hashway said...

Great post! Writing is a job, and a tough one at that.

I'm a new follower from Book Blogs. Here's my blog if you want to check it out.

Sandy said...

Kelly, you're right about the tough job. I read your blog, and I agree with you. It's hard to stay up when people bash you over the head all the time. Eventually, it changes and the down leaves or lessens.

K.T. Bishop said...

Everyone assumes I make a lot of money writing these books! If I had to depend on book sales, I'd be a dead man! I have a full-time job and luckily, a publisher who's flexible with me.

Sandy said...

Amen! You're so right, K.T.