In these days of computers and wonderful word processing programs, anyone can “author” a book and publish it, making it look professional and slick. Even the least talented among us can put words on a page and call it a book. This is in reality a huge part of the problem that dominates the literary world just now, the sheer number of books that are available from sources too vast to name. Quality is a rare thing these days, and often lost amid the quantity of offerings available to readers who don’t stand a chance of ever sifting through everything vying for their precious, hard-earned dollars and cents.
So, what makes a writer different from an author…apart from the fact that one title sounds much more illustrious than the other? Well, in many case, authors believe when they write those much anticipated and welcome words “The End” that their masterpiece is done. Writers, since writing is considered a job by many, understand that writing “The End” means the real work is about to begin. When you’ve finished that wonderful tale is when you, the writer, are ready to begin the building and refining process.
Do you have any idea how many horror stories editors and publishers can tell about the kind of material they see submitted to them daily? I keep wondering when these so-called “authors” become so arrogant that they forget the publisher is not there to serve them, and that to be published is honestly the privilege of having someone believe in your work to the point that they are willing to put their money at risk and hope there will in fact be a pay-off that benefits the writer and the publisher. When did this all get to be the “author” honouring the publisher with granting them the privilege of publishing? Maybe I missed that memo? Or more likely, these brilliant authors have overlooked the first rule of professionalism in this world–read and follow publisher guidelines and their formatting preferences. I realize this will shock some of you, but they don’t put that stuff on the website for show, it’s there to guide you and help them.
Oh, and there’s my other bitch, the way the entire industry suddenly narrows to a self-obsessed “me” mentality with so many new, UNprofessional “authors” who think they’re flaming Shakespeare or the next Nora Roberts. Odds are, you’re not going to be more than a momentary blip on the radar of the industry unless you learn a few hard truths rather early on. This business relies heavily on writers supporting each other, and by that I don’t mean taking advantage of someone else’s established readership to push your book down the throats of that writer’s readers because they have a FB page or a group where their readers come to chat. Common courtesy flies out the bloody window so often in these situations it’s downright infuriating. I’ve had my pages abused in this way, with never a “would you mind if I posted?” ever asked. The assumption that I’ve poured eight years of work and relationship building into all this simply for your convenience is going to get your ass booted and banned quicker than you can possibly imagine as you sit back and wait for my readers to rush in and buy your books.
I can only speak from my personal experiences, but I won’t lie to you–I’ve pitched more than one hissy fit over the past year when total strangers post their promotions on my pages without ever asking if I’d mind. I realize I have about 8000 contacts on Facebook alone, but that doesn’t mean the pages are open house. It might serve many of you well to forge your own relationships if you want to make the leap from ego/vanity author to working writer. I’ve recently formed a wonderful group project with three talented writers I love and admire, they are friends and we shout just as loudly for each other’s successes as many newbies do for themselves. Longevity and success in this world depends hugely on audience perception of you, as well as your books. So, my advice, for what it’s worth is to back off and really LEARN to write, then learn to be professional about it, because frankly–if you don’t have the support of fellow writers, it’s going to be one hell of a lonely comedown for you. Be a writer, a working artist who is learning every day–not an “author” obsessed with your greatness.