Don’t Feel Bad: 5 Things Authors Can (and Should!) Do
Being an author is like a juggling act where the things you’re risking dropping by tossing them around in the air are your day job, your writing career, your family, and your sanity. It can be confusing and complicated for first-time writers especially, and new (and sometimes old!) authors often feel bad or apologetic about things like asking questions or—heaven forbid—wanting to get paid on time. I’m here to tell you: Don’t feel bad. Part of taking writing seriously as your job is figuring out how to get what you need without feeling guilty about it. To that end, here are five things that authors can, and really should, do for themselves and their career—without feeling bad about it.
No one wants to be that terrible person on social media who does nothing but spam you with requests to buy their literary masterpiece. That person is annoying and the last thing you want to do after six back-to-back tweets full of ALL CAPS demands to preorder is actually buy the book. But, as an author, it’s quite literally your job to ask people to buy your book! It can feel very icky to do this, but with practice, it can be done well. Luckily, Swoon author Devon Taylor has some excellent tips for how to try and market yourself and your book without feeling like you want to set yourself on fire.
Ask Why & How
I’ll say it: Publishing is complicated. It has lots of little moving parts, and since it takes a village to publish a book, it’s often hard to keep track of who is doing what for your book and why. It’s 100% okay to ask your editor (or your agent, if you have one) if you have a specific question about some aspect of the publishing process or if you’re just generally confused. Most editors love to chat about the minutiae of publishing and would be more than happy to talk you through it. No good editor is going to think less of you if you have to ask a few questions now and then, and as Swoon editor Emily S. says, the only dumb question is the one you needed to ask but didn’t!
Tell Your Editor You’ll be Late
Please, please, please tell your editor if you know that you aren’t going to be able to turn in your edits or a draft on time, as soon as you know it. A lot of editors carefully plan when they are going to work on each manuscript that they have, and an unexpected late manuscript can throw a wrench in the whole process. We know that life happens sometimes (it happens to us too!), and an editor is much more likely to be willing to work on your timeline if you communicate early what that timeline is. It’s also helpful if you let us know when you actually think you’ll be done—be realistic! On the flip side, I also like to know if an author thinks they’ll be early, so I can plan accordingly!
Ask the Money Question
As much as publishing is about the joy of seeing your words in print and knowing that people around the world will get to read them, let’s be real: You would like to get paid for your work. We would also like you to get paid, but since editors don’t write the check themselves, sometimes we have to check in with the finance people to see what’s up, and it is completely okay to ask your editor to do that. This is your livelihood we’re talking about here. If you have an agent, they should be doing this for you, but if you’re flying solo, know that it’s okay to ask. Obviously, you can ask too many times—we’re talking about one or two polite inquiries, not berating your editor—but we know you have to budget and it’s helpful to know when you can expect your advance!
Take Time Off Writing
Self-care gets a bad rap sometimes, either because people think it’s selfish or because people misunderstand and think self-care is ignoring all responsibilities and eating pizza on your couch while binge-watching the first two seasons of Riverdale. And sometimes, it is. But the key thing with self-care is making sure you’re doing things that you like, find relaxing, and that will make you more productive later on, rather than making you feel sick and like your vision is blurry from too much TV. For writers, oftentimes this means taking a break from that daily word count to let your brain rest a little bit. Writing every day works for some people, but not for others. Figure out what helps your process the most and do that!
That’s all from me—any authors out there have something they felt bad about doing that they shouldn’t have that I didn’t include on this list? Let me know in the comments!