The Author’s Pie:
At seven years old, I had no idea what being a “writer” or “author” really meant. That didn’t stop me from wanting to be one, along with a vet, equine specialist, farrier, jockey, or exactly like Amy from Heartland. Pretty much my entire life I’ve been a writer, but being a writer–someone who writes, is a lot different than being a published author. My life as a published author is anything but glamorous, and I cannot tell how many times I’ve wanted to revert back to being just a writer. Being a writer is easy; it’s simply doing something you love. Being an author is something else entirely. My husband and I had a conversation about his past life as a “rock star” (at least locally) compared to my life as an author. We were having an argument about social media, and his success as a musician. I made the comment that back when he was doing that, social media wasn’t that big and there probably weren’t millions of people doing what he was. He looked at me like I had six heads.
“Everyone wants to be a rock star, and now everyone also wants to be an author,” he said.
He nailed it. People don’t realize all the things that come along with being a rock star, or in my case an author. Those things are the exact reason that his band denied a contract with a label and instead decided to quit. Those things can often drive a person to hate the very thing they loved. My husband has four guitars, a keyboard, and various other instruments in boxes (not counting the many things he sold when we were just starting out to pay our rent). He hasn’t played them in years. I wonder if someone had warned him about those things if he would have pursued being a “rock star”; if he would still be playing music simply because he loved it. If someone had warned me, would I have done things differently?
It’s a resounding hell no, but I think I would have been better prepared for all of the challenges and overwhelming commitment being an author requires. Being a writer means you write. Being an author is a level of commitment much deeper than just writing your thoughts and ideas onto paper.
I began learning exactly what it means to be an author three years ago. I entered the world of self-publishing because I was just sick of querying and the whole thought of a traditional publisher putting a cover I hated on my novel, along with editing me into submission didn’t please me. I’m a control freak. I still am, but now I have a better understanding of all of the facets of publishing and the give and take it requires. Through the years I’ve made connections, I’ve made best seller lists, I’ve had epic flops of book releases, and I’ve learned the only one who can edit you into submission is you. It has been a mixed bag of frustration, happiness and growing as an author and a person. It’s also been frightening. One of the most frightening realizations was one I made the other day as I looked up books from those connections I initially made two to three years ago. None of them are available. Those authors have dropped off the face of the Earth. Perhaps, like my husband, they realized the commitment was too much. Maybe someone should have prepared them.
That leads me to my question for you. Do you want to be a published author? Awesome. I mean it. Awesome. I’m here to fill you in on what I call is the author’s pie. You can heed this as a warning, but I prefer to call it a reality check; a simple acknowledgement of what my life is as an author and a publisher. Granted, depending on the direction you want to go and the goals you have, your pie might look different. I’m an author, publisher and someday I want to make my publishing house a threat to the big six. So, yes, I dream big.
As an illustration of the commitments of being an author, take a look at the below percentages:
Social Media/Marketing: 30%
Contact Management: 15%
That’s right; when I produce a book, I only spend about 15% of my time actually writing it. As you can see Editing and Social Media/Marketing take up a huge chunk of my time, and the scary part is that I have an editor. There’s just so much editing that is done prior to an editor being involved, then working with the editor, then looking at the edits, and editing…some more. The reason, because there’s different levels of editing copy editing, creative editing, and proofreading. Onto the other large chunk, social media and marketing. I have a degree in marketing. Marketing books still kicks my butt–why? Because there is no rhyme or reason why a book sells over another. Word of mouth changes book to book, and that’s what sells books. How do you get people to talk about your book? Talk about it yourself first, but not in a way that annoys the hell out of people to the point they see your as a spammer. The truth is, marketing yourself as a person is just as important as marketing your book. That’s the hard part. How do you market yourself? Be yourself. It sounds simple, but it’s not. Nothing about book marketing is. If it were, every single person would be a best seller, and all of those authors who started when I did would still be around. The two smallest portions, aside from writing, are contact management and design. Contact management involves hand picking blogs, sending emails, review requests and other direct contact methods. This has become less for me over the years, as I have already made contacts that I frequent, and I see less value in it than I did prior (when I published Flawed Perfection, it was probably 50% contact management– the blog tour, which lasted a month, did nothing for sales) I’ll leave that to the professional tour, blitz, etc, organizers. Then there’s the design, which is unique to me. As a graphic designer I see little value in paying someone for something I’ve already been trained to do. If you aren’t trained in graphic design and marketing, I would advise you stay away from this– very far away from it. The last thing you want is to select a font like Papyrus for your cover– or worse, copy and paste different parts from different people to make one person. A common Word font and/or a badly photoshopped cover is not a good first impression, and first impressions are critical as an author.
Being an author is a constant challenge. It’s physically and mentally draining, and not just on me. Ask my husband. I’m pretty sure the four weeks before a book is published feel like hell to him.
Are you scared yet?
Don’t be. I promise, the first piece of fan mail will make up for it. There is nothing like having someone say you inspire them. Absolutely nothing. Especially when they inspire you right back.
Am I famous? Can I retire and be just a author and publisher? Do I see that any time in the future? Hell no, but I’m not giving up.
About Cassandra Giovanni
Cassandra doesn’t remember a time when she wasn’t writing. In fact, the first time she was published was when she was seven years old and won a contest to be published in an American Girl Doll novel. Since then Cassandra has written more novels than she can count and put just as many in the circular bin. Her personal goal with her writing is to show the reader the character’s stories through their dialogue and actions instead of just telling the reader what is happening. Besides being a writer, Cassandra is a professional photographer known for her automotive, nature and architectural shots. She is happily married to the man of her dreams and they live in the rolling hills of New England their dogs, Bubski and Kanga.
Cassandra Giovanni is published by Show n’ot Tell Publishing based out of Connecticut, USA