Happy days, you’re an author. Whether traditionally published, or self-published, publishing a book is a wonderful achievement, so kudos to you. Chances are you’re on a high. Unfortunately, that high won’t last. After the happy glow wears off, it’s time to consider that you’re now a pro, and think about what that means.
Basically, it means that what you say and do matters to your career.
You’re a professional author — what you say and do matters to your career
You’ve published a book. Whether you sell ten copies or 100,000, be aware that people are watching:
- Editors and agents will Google your name;
- Your readers will form an opinion of who you are, and that will affect whether or not they buy your next book;
- Other authors will form an opinion too.
Let’s look at some author behaviors which will damage your career, or kill it entirely.
1. Acting like Cinderella: waiting, and waiting some more
This is very common author behavior. Cinderellas wait for other people to do stuff, because they feel that this is their route to success. They wait for:
- Their agent and/ or editor to get back to them;
- Readers to provide reviews;
- Advertising to boost them into bestseller-status…
I met a writer I hadn’t seen in two years. When last we spoke, she was sending query letters for her first novel out to literary agents. Since I hadn’t heard that her book was out — not surprising, because so many books are published — I asked her who her publisher was.
She told me that she didn’t have a publisher. She’d parted ways with Agent One, and was now with Agent 2.
There’s not much you can say to that, so I made commiserating noises and asked what she was working on.
“Oh, I’m not writing. I want to see how this book does.” I wished her well, even though I wanted to shake her.
If you’re waiting for something, stop waiting. Keep writing. My friend could have written three or four more novels in the time she was obsessing about agents. Not only would her additional novels had made her a more appealing prospect to both agents and editors, but she could have sold at least one or two.
And of course, she could also have self-published her novels, without waiting for anyone.
Listen up. Writers write. Everything else is totally peripheral. Whatever you’re waiting for won’t change your basic reality: you write today, you’ll write tomorrow, and you’ll write the day after that. As for waiting for things to happen: your aim needs to be to do all you can to make them happen.
2. Being a big mouth: gossiping, and/ or sharing proprietary information
This behavior is unfortunately common among traditionally-published authors, but self-publishing authors are guilty of it too. Traditionally published authors gossip about their agent and editors, and their sales; self-published authors gossip about their designers, web developers, other writers, and their sales.
Shush! Stop it, please.
Please don’t gossip. Word gets around, and sooner or later people won’t return your calls. It should also go without saying that you never share any proprietary information given to you by your agent, editors, or anyone else with whom you’re working.
3. Being a depressing Eeyore: cheer up!
He usually expects misfortune to happen to him, accepts it when it does and rarely even tries to prevent it. His catchphrases are “Thanks for noticin’ me” and “Ohhh-kayyy”.
Never complain in a public forum, and that includes on your blog, on Facebook, in groups… Several editors have told me that when they’re considering an author, they check his social media profiles carefully. Any hint that you’re high-maintenance and prone to complaining, and you can kiss a publishing contract bye-bye.
Everyone has challenges. You can be as weepy as you like in the comfort of your bedroom or home office, but aim to be cheerful in public. You don’t need to be a Pollyanna, but remember that you’re a professional author.
Anyone and everyone can and will Google your name. Even if you’re a member of a private mailing list, or private Facebook group, these groups are public spaces. Keep everything positive.
Your career as an author is up to you
Be professional, and kind. Your career is always what you make it. Enjoy it. 🙂
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