When I started this writing journey, I was six. I wrote a really bad story about Minnie Mouse and a very mean cat. My mother still has this story. Hopefully, it will never see the light of day. Fast forward several years (about 25 or so) and I’m back to writing as a way to cope with my child’s serious illness. My son got better and I eventually finished my book about two years later.
What did I expect after that? I think I expected for Simon and Schuster to come beating down the door. They’d surely beg me to agree to publish with them and probably offer me a $10 million advance. Not exactly.
The number 10 million did come up again. That was the number of agents and publishers I queried before I found a publisher. That’s only 999, 999 rejections! So it was almost exactly like my dream.
At some point, I realized that being in author is not all glitz, glamour, and Gatsby-style parties. It isn’t even all writing. To be successful in this day and age, you have to work. The old publishing model only works for a small fraction of people. Now you have to have a brand, a website, a logo, a blog, a healthy twitter following, a healthy facebook following, a healthy whatever the newest social media platform is following, and you have to write like a fiend. The more successful authors are pumping out six books a year. It only took me two years to write my first book and eight months to write my second (not including plotting and research) so I still have a ways to go on getting six books done every year.
Authors are now expected to do their own marketing. Some authors (me when I started) didn’t even know where to begin. I joined a couple of writing groups and met some bestselling authors and a marketing genius who taught me more than I ever knew. I’m really grateful for them! I can no longer write under the illusion that I can just sit back with my feet up while my books sell like hotcakes. Instead, every day, I take steps to build my platform.
The harsh reality is that a very small number of people can just write. I guess Stephen King can. Maybe Elizabeth Gilbert. Probably Gillian Flynn. The rest of us will continue to try and balance writing, marketing, and working day jobs.