Being an author is more complicated than just writing a novel, uploading it to Amazon. Sure, those are a part of the process, but authorship means more than just being somebody who typed a whole lot of words in a more-or-less coherent order. It, in fact, means more than just pitching your book to agents and publishers. All of those things are important and necessary to the process, but they’re pieces of a bigger whole.
Authorship means your brand, your expertise, and your book. It means you are no longer just a private citizen. You are a public figure. You have a brand. You have the weight of authority. This means you’re also an expert, as much as you might not want to be or feel qualified to be. Don’t let that go to your head, though. You’re an expert about your book series and maybe about creative writing.
Authorship means your brand, your expertise, and your book. It means you are no longer just a private citizen. You are a public figure.E. Prybylski
Being an author also means you need to maintain that public-facing image. Which means marketing, acting appropriately in your public spaces, sharing parts of your life with the world (not all of it, but some), and so on. You are an author, not just a private citizen.
We have all dreamed of being Stephen King or Anne McCaffrey or Neil Gaiman as far as our readership goes. But what does that mean for us as a person? Are we prepared for being, well, famous? I’m not claiming any of us here are going to be those people, of course, but assuming we do get a following and get known, it will mean we live in the limelight to some degree or another. Things we say and actions we take will have weight to them, and people will see us and judge us. Is that something you’re prepared for?
Do you know what your author brand is yet? Have you thought that through and figured it out? Do you know what it means? These are all considerations you need to make and conversations with yourself you need to have. That isn’t to say you should quit now if you don’t like the idea of walking the red carpet because chances of us ending up there are slim. But you need to be honest with yourself: is that something you want?
If it isn’t, it’s okay to write as a hobby. Many people do it and love it. They write because it’s what they’re passionate about, regardless of any desire to publish. I fully and wholeheartedly encourage such endeavors. However, to those who are looking at the journey to the next steps, that means you have to be an author.
When considering what I wanted to do with my life, being an author was always the top of my list. It was: author, veterinarian, and then farmer. In that order. At least when I was a kid. As I grew up, my priorities changed, but being an author was always at the top of my list. However, when I started understanding what publishing really entails, I realized that dream was more complicated than it sounded as kid.
Even after going to business school, I didn’t make the connection between authorship and business. Nor did I until I started working in the industry. I read Dan Poynter’s books and came to realize and internalize that as much as writing is an art, publishing is a business. That reality clicking in my brain triggered a series of changes. For one, I started this blog.
The last decade has been a slow gathering of steam toward becoming the author I have dreamed of being since I was a child. That also means growing comfortable in front of people. Even if I only share a portion of myself with my fans (thinking about having fans gives me all sorts of feelings I can’t quantify), I do have to share. Which meant deciding what to share and how vulnerable to be.
These are decisions all of us authors have to make. How much to share, when, and with whom is an important part of deciding what our plans for the future are going to be. That, and leaning into the fact that when we are acting as our authorly selves (as opposed to the us that we are in private) we need to be “on.”
This may feel like it’s disingenuous, but I’m not suggesting you lie. However, I can tell you with certainty that, as a musician, the me on stage performing is a different me than the one who is curled up in their cozy PJ pants writing this blog. (My PJ pants have pictures of sheep on them and say, “I love shleep.”) Any performer will have an on-stage and off-stage difference, and we as authors must do the same with our public-facing media. Sure, still be you, but be a more focused, polished, professional you.
[Authors] treat their social media and blog as an extension of their personal space and don’t censor themselves or think how their target audience might receive what they say.E. Prybylski
It’s a mistake I see many authors make—particularly indie ones. They treat their author social media and blog as an extension of their personal space and don’t censor themselves or think about how their target audience might receive what they say. I’m not saying you can’t have opinions and use your author platform to speak about them, but doing so mindfully will help you avoid a lot of misery in the future. Once your name becomes associated with something, you will likely never get out of it again. (wild gesticulation to JK Rowling’s behavior).
I’m working on a course that will be available through my website to help you, as a writer, explore what authorship means to you and help you craft your author identity, though it may be a bit since I’ve never made a course before. PowerPoint is, by far, not my area of expertise, that’s for sure! But do keep an eye out for that and several other courses that I am going to be launching in the upcoming months as I gear up for my book launch in January.
E. Prybylski has been in the publishing industry as an editor since 2009, starting at Divertir Publishing and eventually partnering with her close friend Richard Belanger to begin Insomnia Publishing.
Ever since childhood, E. has been an avid reader and writer of fantasy. The first chapter book she remembers reading is The Hobbit, followed swiftly by most of Anne McCaffrey’s Pern series. In high school, she perfected the skill of walking while reading without slamming into anyone. Mostly.
When she isn’t reading or writing, E. is an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism and has a B.A. in European history from SNHU. In addition to her many historical pursuits, E. is a musician of multiple instruments, a cat mom, and a loving wife to her husband, J. E. also speaks out for the disability and chronic illness communities being a sufferer of chronic migraines and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome.