Thursday, March 8, 2012

10 Myths about Being an Author

My name is Julie and I’m an author.

Hold your applause.

What? You weren’t planning on applauding? Oh.

Anyway, people are always asking questions. The big one is “Would you like fries with that?” but sometimes the questions relate to being an author. I’m not sure how they know that I write books for a living. Perhaps it’s my author-like scent. I’ve heard all authors emit this special sort of scent- Ode to Words, but I never believed it. Not till CURSES! was released last week and I noticed this stench clinging to me. Sure you could blame the whiskey, but I prefer to think that the smelly author myth is actually true.

By now you’re probably asking yourself, is there a point to this rambling? And the answer is…”Can I supersize my drink?”

Okay, now that my order’s complete, let’s talk myths, especially those 10 little ones that cling to authors:

10. Books are easy to write.
I hate to burst this particular bubble, since most people I know say stuff like, “I should write a book.” (And they should. Everyone should try at least once, and then I would never, ever hear that statement again). But book writing (at least good, publishable book writing) is damn hard and it takes months, sometimes years to finish.

9. Authors are all rich.
Sigh. I wish. Like me, most authors I know have a day job or a very nice spouse who supports the authors dream. Even semi-famous authors aren’t making the big bucks. For every six-figure book deal you hear about, there are twenty four figure ones. Worse, if you get an advance, you have to sell enough books to pay that advance (called earning out) before you make a dime on any book you sell.

8. Authors sell thousands and thousands of books.
To who? Please tell me where can I sell that many books? An average mid-list author with a new release will sell anywhere from 500 to a couple thousand book a year. Most books don’t even sell that many copies.

7. Once an author sells a book to a publisher, the author can just step back and reap in the royalties.
Ha! How I wish this myth was true. I sold my first book thinking this same thing. Boy did I learn a lesson over the next year. I had to arrange every book signing, send out all newsletters and press releases for media attention, and buy all my own book swag. A publisher does their part with editing, printing and distributing my book as well as helping to promote it.

6. All books are somewhat autobiographical.
Let me answer this as quick and easily as I can: NO. No. No. No. I am not a fairy tale villain. I’ve never been a fairy tale villain. Nothing in my novel is me or about me.

5. The narrator in the book is the author.
See the answer above. Whatever point of view a book is told in is a decision made by the author as a means to tell a story. I, the author, am not the narrator. I am merely the chick who types the words.

4. The day a book is released it will be front and center of the bookstore.
Not true. Here’s another painful lesson I learned. The books you see in the front of the bookstore, well, those are there because someone, likely the publisher, paid the store to place them there. Sadly, bookstores have less and less space for books. Many are now selling e-readers in space that used to house books. So the odds of finding your book on a store’s shelves are about 50/50.

3. Authors love attention and talking about their book.
Some do. Others, like me, would rather not be the center of attention. But it’s the nature of our business. If I want to succeed I have to tell people about my book.

2. If a book has vampires or a kid named Harry in it, you’ll make millions.
False. Please, for the love of all words, stop writing to what you think the market is or wants. If J.K. Rowlings or Stephenie Myers jumped off a bridge would you? Be fresh. Be unique. Be yourself.

1. All authors are young, sexy and hip.
This one happens to be absolutely true.

j.a. kazimer is a writer living in Denver, CO. With a master’s degree in forensic psychology, j.a. has worked as a private investigator, bartender, and at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Books include The Junkie Tales (2010), The Body Dwellers (2011), CURSES! A F***ed-Up Fairy Tale (2012), and Holy Socks & Dirtier Demons (2012). The next book in the F***ed Up Fairy Tale series, FROGGY-STYLE, is forthcoming from Kensington in 2013. Read more about j.a. at


Shannon Baker said...

Another myth: Writers only write when they are inspired. Nope. Most writers I know write every day (or most days) whether they feel like it or not. Thanks, Julie. Best of luck with Curses and those that follow.

Patricia Stoltey said...

You got it right, Julie. And yet we want to keep doing it, over and over...

Chris Devlin said...

True or false: Writers should always wear a tiara to their signings.

The answer is important, as I'll have to buy one should I ever get published. Could you recommend a place?

Great post, cheers!

Dean K Miller said...

A fairy-tale writer now dispelling myths? What/who are we to believe?! I am grateful, in so small part, that at least the last on the list, is believably true!

Well I'm back to the gee-I-wish-this-was-easier part.


Arlee Bird said...

Waaah! I wanna be rich ( the floor throwing tantrum)!

You have better odds of being financially comfortable by getting a steady job and investing wisely.

But I'd rather be cool, sexy, and hip.

Great stuff. You had me chuckling all the way.

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F.T. Bradley: said...

Love it. Especially that number one myth, of course.

Jenny Maloney said...

But if you have a vampire kid named Harry that is the recipe for success! Just mix and have you're hip, sexy author photo in back. Done deal. =)

Marilynn Byerly said...

Myth or Delusion 11. Friends, family, those kids who gave you a rough time when they caught you writing, and other people you want to impress will be.

Actually, they won't. Most will think that if you did it, it isn't that great a feat.

Claire L. Fishback said...

So true! All of these! I get so flustered when people ask me about my projects. I've started telling people (until the book is finished) that I am keeping it a secret so I don't jinx it. :)

#1 is the truest of them all.