Is it possible for you to be an author?
That is a question most people think they know. I know I did for fifteen years, and my answer was “no”. But I was WRONG! I had been an author all along but had dismissed that idea because I couldn’t see it. It would have been helpful for someone to ask me a few questions. One of my policies is, if I see a need for it but don’t see it online, I make it. So here you go!
- Do you write? This also seems like a dumb question. Of course you write. You write grocery lists, notes, emails, maybe even blog posts. But do you write for your own entertainment? When an idea hits you, are you compelled to write it down? Do you like to research things that won’t increase your paycheck? Then you just might be an author!
- What do you write? You may write lots of different things, or only one kind. Is there something that dominates your writing? That just might be what your book will be about one day. Yes! Your book! ‘Cause you just might be an author!
- Can you imagine writing a book? Face it. If you can’t imagine ever doing it, you probably won’t. But maybe you should. What does that look like in your head? This is an important question to ask before moving forward, because you just might be an author.
- Can you finish a book? Do you have the time and determination, not to mention organization, to finish a book? I’m not talking a 500,000 word novel here, but a complete work. If you don’t, could you figure out how and work toward that goal?
- Are you confident that you can write something worth reading? You don’t have to change the world, but you do have to create something you value in order for you to finish it. What will your writing do for your readers?
OK! You’ve asked yourself those questions. What did you arrive at? If you’re still not sure, imagine your answer was “Yes” and answer these questions. Psst! You can also answer them if your answer really is “Yes”.
- What genre would you write in? There are several pretty well-defined categories. What group you pick of these two “opposites” determines how you’ll proceed with your publishing plan. The jury is still out on choosing more than one genre to write in, but everyone agrees they should correlate so readers aren’t confused. The sub-categories of these are enormous, but all writing falls into:
- What kind of writer would you be? You have choices now! I know! It’s so awesome! You can choose the “traditional publishing” path, or you can choose the new and exciting independent publishing world. Here are some sub-questions to ask yourself to determine which you will choose.
- What kind of time do you want to spend making your manuscript into a published book? I don’t mean how much. They’re both equal but different. Do you want to invest your time at the beginning, courting agents and publishers, or do you want to spend it after the book is out, promoting the book on your own? (Note: with some traditional publishers, you will have to do both because they don’t promote their authors.)
- Do you know how to work a computer well? (or have someone who will help you A LOT) If you want to go indie, you’ll need to know how to format your manuscript, create a cover photo, upload it to vendor websites, tweet, make Facebook pages, find promotional sites online, and work every day to push your book upward in the sea of books. If you don’t know how to do all this, you’ll need to learn, pay someone to do it, or you’ll want to go traditional.
- How long do you want to wait to see your book on the real and virtual shelves? Some authors wait years to be accepted by a publisher. Independently published books can be posted online within 24 hours. The results are completely different afterward, but if you’re someone who doesn’t want to hide for 2 years before your book becomes a book, you want to go indie. Conversely, if you don’t feel that it’s really published if you do it yourself, you probably want to hold out for a traditional publisher.
- How much money do you want to spend on all of this? This question is more up to you than others. You can spend a lot of money seeking either route. The question is, how much do you want to pull out of your own bank account to start? With traditional publishing, authors are frequently counselled by experts to pay someone to edit your manuscript before you submit it to publishers, so there’s that. Self-publishing can be done with any amount of money up front, from nearly nothing to thousands of dollars. There are literally endless possibilities to spend your money on your book. Nice. If you don’t want to spend anything, ever, then you probably want to just write for fun and give your work for free. The freebie authors don’t usually sell to anyone but their friends and family. As they say, it takes money to make money.
- How much control do you want over your books? If you publish traditionally, the answer should be “very little”. You will sell all rights to the publisher and then it will be their baby, with you as the backup promotional agent for yourself. They will say how and to who you distribute books, how much they will cost, and how long to keep you in print. If you go indie, you decide all that, plus you can decide whether you want print-on-demand, where you store and keep no books, or whether you want some other volume of books on your hands. The combinations are endless and depend entirely on what kind of money you want to spend, what you want to charge for them, and what kind of money you want to make off them.
How does this list make you feel? Are you pee-your-pants excited? Are you scared to death? Does it bore you?
Does this seem like an amazing adventure to you or a big hassle? If it’s the former, you’re definitely an author! Congratulations!
If it’s the latter, don’t worry about it. Write for fun and be happy! If you decide you want more later, that’s fine. There’s always time! Because you still might be an author.