5 Things You Think You Know About Authors

I haven’t written a blog post for a little while. I have been neglecting my on-line duties because I’ve been racing through a first draft for a new novel. It’s always a pretty intense time when I’m trying to get that first pass at a story onto the screen – even more so this time because there’s something of a deadline. Anyway, I finished that yesterday so I thought I take a moment out to write something a bit different. And here it is.

5 Things You Think You Know About Authors (but you’re wrong)

1: Published authors are rich.

Oh, if only this were true.

On announcing my first 2-book deal, someone asked me, ‘So when are you going to buy the Ferrari?’ And he was serious.

No, only a very small percentage of writers are rich. They’re often good writers like the Stephen Kings and JK Rowlings of this world – but they could probably print their shopping list and it would sell like hotcakes. The reason for this is not just that they’re good, but that everybody knows who they are; they’re a recognisable brand, so when a reader is looking for a holiday book, they go for something they recognise.

Oh, and there’s the ones with big boobs. And those who found celebrity in some other way. Like being on the telly. They seem to be able to sell books, too, though it’s not always obvious why.

many authors probably couldn’t even afford this

2: Authors have an endless supply of their own books

‘So when do I get a copy of your book to read?’ someone once asked me, as if I have a room full of my own books, stacked high, just waiting for me to give them away.

But no . .  .  I have no such room and no such stacks of books. You see, authors usually receive a small number of copies when their novel is published, and there is an option to purchase more copies at a discounted rate. This discounted rate can actually turn out to be more expensive than simply ordering from Amazon so . . . well, that just tells you how powerful they are.

Just waiting to be given away. Not.

3: Publishers market authors’ books

Of course they do. With the publication of every book there is a nationwide publicity campaign with TV adverts, posters, radio slots and a tour. In fact my editor feeds me grapes and ambrosia while I’m talking to my adoring readers and . . . No? You don’t believe me? Well, OK. It’s all lies.

In fact, publishers’ marketing budgets are not as large as we would like them to be, so they tend to spend them on their most important authors. These are the authors who you already know; the ones we talked about in Point 1.

‘But they are already household names,’ I hear you cry. ‘Why do they need so much marketing?’

That’s an easy one. You see, if the publisher doesn’t treat them just-so, they’ll go to a different publisher, and you don’t want to lose the guys who are bringing in the money, right?

My life is nothing like this.


4: Authors wait for the muse to take them

I like this idea – the notion that we sit around waiting for inspiration. Maybe we could use the time to smoke untipped French cigarettes and drink absinthe and hang about in cafes. Or maybe watch Loose Women and Jeremy Kyle.

But it doesn’t work like that. If we did that, we wouldn’t produce much work and, of course, no work means no income. No, most authors I know just get on with it. If we’re lucky, inspiration might come in a flash, but usually it’s a matter of write, write, write, and hope that when you read it back it all makes sense and doesn’t need too much editing. Complicated plots don’t come to us in dreams – we have to work them out, stressing over every detail. It’s a frustrating pursuit and there’s no one looking over your shoulder telling you if it’s going to work or not. That’s why we’re all self-absorbed worriers who constantly doubt what we’re doing.



5: Authors just want you to read their books – even if you haven’t paid for it.

This doesn’t need an answer. Writing is our job. It’s how we pay the bills.


That’s all.


7 thoughts on “5 Things You Think You Know About Authors

  1. Love this post Dan, and all so very true in every way. The book thing – yes, why is it that everyone you know expects a freebie? That’s fine if you only know six people, otherwise, not good.

  2. Love this post, Dan! I’ve already been asked when I’m going to retire from the day job (my book’s not even out till next year), and of course I’m getting the obligatory “next JK Rowling” references. Bah.

  3. Pingback: Another Five Things You Thought You Knew About Authors « Dan Smith

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