Just Call Me Dream Crusher
My official title at CQ is Director of Marketing and PR, but what I should actually be called is The DreamCrusher.
The truth is, a sad but very prominent part of my job is managing expectations. I keep authors within the reality that is oh-so evasive to the newly published, and make sure the disappointment doesn’t completely dismantle their ambition to write. This sounds cynical, I know, but bear with me.
Let me walk you through the typical expectations an author has (whether consciously or not):
- Write a book
- Get it accepted within a couple of months
- Make a few edits then publish the book
- Get oodles of media press coverage, everything from the local television station to NY Times
- Sell tons of copies of your first ever novel, making enough money to become a writer full-time
Now let me give you one example of an actual, very possible outcome:
- Write a book
- Get rejected by at least 5 publishers, or not even hear back
- Finally get an accept, assigned an editor, and get your MS back in shambles
- Release day comes, you get some decent sales the first 2 weeks and then it drops severely. You’re now making $30 a month from your book
- Get a few local newspapers and maybe a TV station or two to feature you
- Start all over, because you won’t be able to sustain a living on anything less than 4 books unless you catch a break and make it big. Do not count on this
Sounds pretty brutal, I know. That’s how publishing is every day though. It’s brutal. It’s emotional. It’s competitive. I’ve had authors drop their 9–5 the second their first book is out, and then email me a month later confused as to why they aren’t rolling in disposable income. The fact of the matter is, there is a lot of competition out there. There’s social clutter to break through, thousands of authors to beat out, and 2 million other books in a given genre that could be picked over a single book.
It’s also creative and exciting and personal, if you can get past the difficulties. Become an author because you love to write, because you have stories to tell, because you are good at it. Don’t become an author to be the next J.K. Rowling, or to make a million dollars. This industry is tough, so you need to love what you do. The best thing you can do for your career is to spend 70% of your focus and time on writing, and 30% on everything else.
Marketing is extremely important, but you can only promote one book for so long before you sound like a broken record.
Write. Write some more. Give everything you have and expect absolutely nothing in return except a nice review on Amazon every once in a while. Believe in yourself, but listen to the realistic goals set by your publishers and agents.
And of course, stay gold Ponyboy.