Thursday, October 13, 2011

10 Questions Every Author Should Ask

The monsters have been screaming in your head for years, scratching and clawing at your brain until you finally put pen to paper and let them out.

You had dreamed of writing a book or a series until you couldn't take it any more. The itch needed scratched and you needed to free the creatures that had taken residence in your imagination before they consumed, devoured, or worse, possessed you.

So, write you did. You worked for months, and years perfecting not only the story but your delivery through study, peer review, and finally a professional edit.

You sighed, taking in a breath of fresh air when at last you had a beautiful cover that added color and vitality to your dream.

The monsters in your brain were freed.

The story was told and then you let Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Goodreads and Smashwords in on your dirty little secret, a secret that only you knew until you finally revealed to the world that you were the next Stephen King, Agatha Christie, or J.K. Rowling.

Screeeeeeech... [enter the scratching record noises].

Now, you know the truth.

Writing is more than tapping your long-time dreams into your word processor; it's also about running a business, marketing, public relations, and accounting. And much to your surprise, there are hundreds of thousands of other writers just like you with the same vision.

And now that you still haven't hit the jackpot like John Locke, you begin to obsess over every new sale in your Amazon KDP account. You sweat over where you'll find free publicity. You run a fever at the first sign of a bad review. You notch up your social media. You pay to advertise. You lower your pricing. You write guest blogs. Pant, pant, pant.

You do everything and anything to get noticed and read until finally, you realize that indie publishing isn't what you thought it would be.

You walk to your bed, lay down and wish the monsters were back inside, safe in the cave from whence they came.

Of course you ask yourself a few questions; questions that you should've asked before your writing life went from big dreams to tiresome reality...
  1. Can I handle subjective opinions of my work?
  2. Do I have time to build a platform, market, engage in social media, and continue writing?
  3. Is my family prepared and willing to lose a big part of me to a second job?
  4. Can I afford to build a quality book: editing, cover, formatting?
  5. Am I in this for the long haul or do I expect instant success?
  6. Do I have time to read and hone my craft?
  7. Am I willing to add more friends, contacts, associates and partners to my already hectic life?
  8. Am I really ready for publication?
  9. Am I willing to support and promote other authors for your mutual benefit?
  10. Which is the true monster, my book, or the business of publishing?
After asking yourself these questions, you realize your eyes must have been bigger than your stomach. Even so, you decide it's a good idea to ponder your next move.

Will you give up? Can you continue at the pace you're on? Do you love writing and publishing, or are you simply infatuated with the idea of being published?

After much consideration, you shake your head, a few tiny creatures fly out of your ears and you discover that you're not done. You seem to have a knack for breeding monsters. You smile, plug the charger into your laptop and start another pot of coffee.

There's still one hour in the day to write, one more beast to command, one more book left in you. Final question: What will you do now?


Thanks for reading. Please follow by email (top right), comment and buy one of my books to help me pay for my kids braces. You don't want the misery of their crooked teeth resting on your shoulders, do you?


  1. Excellent questions. Writing the book seems to be the easy part.

  2. Great post. Many of us find ourselves right there with you. Reminds me of the question asked when we were put in charge during combat training in the army, "What now, Recondo?"

    Persevere or give up - or worse yet, not give it your best.

  3. We are so with you on this one. I choose to keep going forward with plugging our first book...maybe with my head bent forward in the charge position. Meanwhile my co-author keeps churning out handwritten pages for me to type for our second and third books in the series. So I'm really money...yet I'm finding that life goes on no matter what I'm doing.

  4. @Diane ~ Thank you for sharing and reading!

    @Kelly ~ It is, well, sort of. I think the other parts are more of a shock to the newer author. Writing & the editing process is very difficult and time consuming, but if an indie is thinking only in terms of his or her expectations of "publish & watch the cash roll in", they will be disappointed unless they are one of the lucky ones. Because it has happened, but it isn't typical.

    @Pete ~ I thought I'd have a few of you in my corner. But you're right, perseverence is they key!

    @Lynn ~ That's when things really get tricky; writing and trying to keep up with social media and marketing your earlier work. It's kind of like balancing a family of six and watching parents with only one child. You just smile and think, wait till you have more babies!

  5. I've asked myself these questions, and I'm taking it to the next level with NaNoWriMo. If something wonderful comes from it, great. If not, great. Either way, I'm going to keep writing, because my soul demands it. Hope you're well!

  6. Some good questions. I think writers who succeed clearly put a huge amount of time into the platform building etc

  7. @Amber ~ That's the attitude. You have to do it because you love it or it just won't have the same magic. Good luck at NaMo.. I'll see you there!

    @Richard ~ They do, and they should. Your platform is necessary especially if things continue to change in the coming years and the pendulum swings away from the free lovin' indie movement. Gotta be ready to change with technology and the business.

  8. It occurred to me yesterday to wonder why it is that so many writers want to be published. I mean, specifically, beyond the general (and common) reasons. For people who don't want to (or can't) make the investment (time and money) or who don't have realistic expectations of making any money out of, but who want to share their stories with the world, there are options for sharing that don't include 'selling' a book.

  9. So true on so many levels. Very humorous.

  10. Great Post. Realistic look. The same is true for standard publishing as well as indie

  11. Well said, Jeff. I love the record scratch. LOL!

  12. I think you perfect your craft till it represents what you want to spew forth into the world, and then you do so unrepentantly, after editing. You do so taking large steps, eating the weak and smacking the stronger across the face with your talent, until the world either recognizes you or squashes you like a bug.

    As with most of life, writing is simply the desire to be acknowledged as different and special, like all the other different and special people. The problem is most won't ever get the adulation they want. Even if their work rocks. As with most of life. It's terribly unfair. So deal with it.

    Great blog. Write because it's like freeing the music in your head. The music will play either way, and the tune is still valid whether the world dances with you, or you dance alone.

    But if someone chooses to dance to your tune, please make sure you spent the time and energy so that if it only got one hearing, it was worth it.

    That's all.

    I think.

  13. @Ciara ~ That is exactly why I am way okay with selling my work for the lower price. I'd rather be read and make less than think I deserve $5 for every copy and be less read. Excellent point. It's all about the story.

    @Nancy ~ Thanks for stopping by and giving the thumbs up. Much appreciated.

    @J.L ~ Hi. Although I haven't been traditionally published I assumed the same was true. Thanks for validating.

    @Sharkbait Rob ~ Did ya like that? Wish I coulda had an audio there. Woulda been perfect.

    @Russell, Russell, Russell... See, now that sounded very sober to me....Oh, I see the time now; you wrote that long before you started drinking! Ha! Thanks for the nod. Much respect going your way.

    Funny how you use music to color your phrasing. I do the same...especially in Reunion. When you love it, it seeps into your mind, words, and heartbeat. If I didn't write, I'd definitely play more. See, there's that song.
    Thanks for dropping by.

  14. I really enjoyed this, it's very true. An indie author has to be a businessman/woman as well, not only an artist. It's tough but that's how you make living - with a business-like attitude.
    - andrea

  15. @Andrea ~ Hi there. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience.

  16. Definitely some good questions to consider, and he publishing game -- self-pub or trad-pub -- isn't what a lot of young naive authors think it is.

    The only question I really disagree with on your list is "Am I ready for publication?" I don't disagree that it's a question that needs to be asked, but that's a question with such a subjective answer that it could probably deserve an entire series of posts on its own. What does "ready for publication" mean? Are you referring to the book's quality, your marketing plan, your ability to handle rejection or bad reviews? What makes the answer 'yes' as opposed to 'no', and how does an aspiring author tell? It's too open-ended and subjective a question to really ask, in many ways, since I'm sure a lot of self-published authors sure think they're ready to have their book out in the world when in reality it still needs a whole load of work.

  17. Great Post! Writing is an art form to me. Without it my "monsters" walk around my bed and stare at me in my sleep wondering why I don't let out. It is hard not knowing if people will like your books or stories. I guess I just don't worry about that. My stories were developed for my children and it they like them, I'm okay with the rest of it. Maybe one day, the future generations of my family will say "Hey didn't great grandma write a couple of books?" and it will make them want to discover more about who I was. Maybe that's what makes me tick and why I write my "art," to leave a piece of me behind when I travel to the next plain of existance.

  18. Damn! I so DO NOT want to be my own pep squad :( it's like trying to stand on myself to get a better view above the crowd. The platform? / marketing?.. whatever one wants to call it.

    I love the writing part. Great bit about the stories you have been carrying around for years. #10 The true monster does seem to be the dying zombie that is the publishing industry indeed. *sigh* Well... I know what I get to work on this year, beside the next book of course.

    Great post. Thanks for writing it.

  19. @Bibliotrophic ~ Thanks for the comment/question. Answer? I don't really know, but probably a combination of all the above. I was one of the writers who thought my first book was da chit, but I couldn't see the forest for the trees at the time. I thought I was ready...sure of it in fact. But I was so wrong. Fortunately, technology has allowed me to venture into indie pubishing and I'm probably doing better with my books this way. However, I listened to the "no thank yous" and the initial poor reviews from my first book and have since worked very hard to improve. the result is an Amazon best seller, and more to come.

    @Legends~ I totally agree. The money is secondary, nice, but secondary. Sometimes you just have to recognize the fact that your a story teller and that's enough of a reason to write.

    @Uva ~ The oxymoron of writing is that we just want our story to he heard/read, but in order to that we have to be salespeople too. Bummer. Hence, the platform agenda. Thanks for visiting as always.


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