The Realities (vs. Fantasies) of Being Published
Episode #1 of the course How to begin (and maintain) your career as a writer by John Robin
Welcome to the course!
My name is John Robin. My line of work involves helping authors, both traditional and self-published, begin and maintain their writing careers. I’ve put this course together based on my experience, but I also reached out to some amazing authors and asked for them to share some tidbits of wisdom:
• Ruth C. Harris, a New York Times bestselling author who has sold more than 1,000,000 copies of her books to date
• Anne R. Allen, who runs a popular writing blog on Annerallen.com
• K.M. Weiland, a traditionally and self-published author and founder of the popular award-winning writing blog Helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com
• Dan Blank, a marketing consultant who has helped hundreds of authors launch and maintain their writing careers
In the days to come, we’re going to explore the different stages of beginning and maintaining your author career. Today, to start, we’ll begin with the most important elephant in the room: the reality vs. fantasy of publishing.
The Ivory Tower of Publishing
The reality of publication is almost never the same as the image an author has beforehand. You might find yourself dreaming of J.K. Rowling-level success, with a 6-figure book deal. If you’re self-publishing, you might expect that once your book is out, people will find it and rave about it.
Whatever your aspirations, if you’re focused on making money or fame, you’re staring at an ivory tower. Great if you make it there! But the problem with this expectation is you’re setting yourself up for a potential fall.
Publishing is hard. Period. We hear wild success stories but don’t see the whole picture. Every year, more than one million people write a book and become authors. Most of them do so by self-publishing. According to IAmSelf-Publishing, 90% of Americans want to be authors.
But there are few authors who are best-sellers. Most authors make supplementary income and have to work part-time jobs. And the majority of authors might make less than $200 on their book.
Publishing is hard, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. Many authors who don’t see instant results when their book launches give up. If you’re traditionally published, your publisher might not renew your contract.
If you’re one of those authors, there’s good news: if you persevere and develop flexibility, you can succeed. This means not just continuing to write new books, but learning from the market. Instead of viewing your first book as a be-all-end-all, view it as a foot in the water, a first step in launching your writing career.
The first step to beginning your writer’s career is shifting your focus away from the ivory tower of success. Shift your energy instead to the task of improving your writing and connecting to readers. As you’ll see in the days to come, this paradigm is the foundation that will push you beyond a success/fail orientation. In fact, it will give you momentum to accelerate and keep growing your career with every book you put out.
Shift your expectations from the ivory tower of success instead to the questions, “How can I connect with my reader? How can I make my writing better?”
Tomorrow, we’ll talk important steps you need to take before you publish your book to help it be as amazing as it can be.
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