Author Specification

Got a book inside you? Thinking of making 2015 the year you let it out? Here’s your author specification so you can hit the ground running.

Essential Information
Before you begin, ask yourself whether or not you’re completely and utterly in love with what you’re writing. If you don’t care about your work, why should the reader? Besides, it’s a long old slog writing 90,000 words. If you want to make a career out of this you’ve got to find the stamina to complete this journey not just once, but over and over again.

None. Anyone can do it, can’t they?
Please note; excuses about not having enough time are not acceptable. Everyone is busy.

Experience and Knowledge
Proven evidence of writing skills is desirable though not, unfortunately, essential. However, useful examples include writing for publication in magazines and newspapers and competition wins. Have you stamped all over the internet? Left your digital footprints on the blogosphere, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Spotify… what do you mean, you’re supposed to be writing?  Do you want to find your audience or not? Who else is going to do this stuff for you?

Attributes and Abilities
Insane optimism. The ability to believe that the good times, the film deal, the sweet spot when your novel hits the zeitgeist are just round the corner.

Know when to listen. If a professional is good enough to give you their opinion, please act upon it. Please don’t think that she/he is wrong and that you, your partner, your best friend and your dog know better!

Know when to shut up. One star reviews can make you feel sick, weep or fill you with rage. Alas, telling the reviewer to take a full refund and jog off is not an option. What’s the point? Many of them have downloaded it for free or paid 99p for the results of your year of hard slog anyway. The thwarted writers, the misery-makers, the readers who just HATE your book will just keep coming and you have to learn to suck it up. This can be particularly tough.

Be a content machine. The more work you put out there, the more people will discover you. Well, that’s the theory. It also means you’ll end up doing a lot of unpaid work for the ‘exposure’. This is peculiar to the creative industry. Good luck finding a restaurant providing free meals for ‘exposure’.

Working Hours and Pay
You’ll never have a day off. In every waking moment, and some sleeping ones, your work in progress is there in the background of your mind demanding attention.

Be a Breatharian. You’d better hope that the satisfaction of having written is enough to sustain you because you’re going to have to learn to live on thin air. For every dazzlingly successful novelist there are thousands who don’t even come close to earning a living.

Be content. People who love your work will give you the energy to keep going – isn’t this why you began writing? To reach out to others and to strike a common chord? It’s immensely uplifting when readers are kind enough to tell they’ve enjoyed your novels. Take pleasure in looking at the various editions of your books on your shelf or the thumbnails of your ebooks online. You’re doing what you love – one day you might even make some money at it.


Clare Chase said…
Great post, Chris – it all rings true. I’m using your advice about being a content machine to drive me on to write my next…! Good pep talk. Just as well we all love what we do!
Chris Stovell said…
I'm still in Moany mode, Clare! It's that time of year! Thank you for your comment.
Flowerpot said…
Lovely post Chris and so true! I know very few writers who earn enough to keep them afloat without some backup. But the rewards of seeing our work in print is wonderful. xx
Chris Stovell said…
Thank you, Sue. I felt a bit dispirited when I wrote it, but I've picked myself up, dusted myself off and will get on with it again!
Frances said…
Chris, I am so glad to have spied this post just as I poured myself a cup of tea to go with some after supper almonds and chocolate.

All wise advice and good encouragement.

Not saying I will be jumping in to try my luck next year, but the temptation is great.

Chris Stovell said…
Ah, Frances - yours is a book I'd definitely like to read. I also like the sound of the tea and chocolate! I hope you get plenty of opportunities for rest and relaxation over the festive season. Cx

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