There are as many different types of authors as there are people. Every one of us is housing a different brain, each brewing its own particular brand of brilliance.
The type of author you are isn’t about the way you frame your words, or which genre you choose to write in. You might prefer to fill your pages with short sentences, or perhaps long winded poetry. Children’s books, horror novels, self-help or biographies, it doesn’t matter.
Style and genre have nothing to do with what we’re talking about today.
We could split one group of authors into two and then those two groups into four, forever and ever ad infinitum, but for the sake of simplicity, let’s say there are three types of author. We’ll call them the Squirrel, the Horse and the Lion.
Which type of author are you?
You want to make it, and someday you just might. You hit your daily word count, at least usually. You enjoy talking to other writers and gathering their feedback, though you are sometimes shy. When you do get feedback, you imagine incorporating it into your revised pages, often setting it aside for the day you’ll return to the story. Maybe you’ve done NanoWriMo once or twice, maybe you’ll do it again. You have one or more unfinished manuscripts in the bottom drawer of your desk, or more likely, on the hard drive of your desktop. You enjoy writing and some days you even love it. You know you are talented and that given time, you could develop your craft enough to maybe even get published. Though you would love to focus on your writing, you understand the many hurdles which prevent authors like you from ever seeing their name in print.
You want to make it and believe you have what it takes to make it happen. Your writing is fluid and you hit your word count most days, sometimes with plenty of time or excess pages to spare. You love discussing the craft with other writers and always look forward to feedback. You’ve done NanoWriMo, mostly for the fun of the experience and the community. You’ve knocked out a couple of manuscripts already, but you know this next one will kill it for sure. You plan on querying a few agents as soon as it’s finished. You love writing and would like nothing more than to make a living wrapped in your passion. You realize that there are many roadblocks on the road to being an author, but you are willing to dig deep and do the hard work needed to see your books bound and in the hands of eager readers.
You will make it someday and it will be BIG – no two ways about it. You already have everything it takes to make it happen. Writing for you is like breathing; writer’s block little more than an old wive’s tale. The craft is the air you breathe and you eagerly seek anything that promises to make you better. You’ve done NanoWriMo and you’ll do it again. It’s fun and easy. This is your year. You’ve written a few manuscripts, each one pulling your pages tighter, like batting practice before the big game. You are an author in your mind already, the only thing that will stop you from eventually getting to print is the side of the bus, or something else equally unexpected. Maybe you’ll query a few agents or send the pages straight to a publisher, you haven’t quite decided because it doesn’t really matter. You see both the hurdles and the boundaries of the publishing industry, but don’t care. You know that times have changed and there is now another option. You can use the new tools of social media and print on demand to get your work into the hands of your audience even faster, and with more profit for yourself. After all, you’re the one who’s been grooming an audience for the last year of your book’s production.
Things are now different, and by different I mean better. Published authors, for the most part, are published because they would have fallen neatly into the Lion category long before their first royalty check. They didn’t luck into it, they made it happen. Being a Lion used to be hard. It took everything you had and then some, not everyone can make that kind of commitment. Fortunately, someone shook the Etch-a-Sketch and said we could all start over.
It used to be, if you were a Squirrel, you were likely to stay a Squirrel forever. But modern tools mean modern possibilities, and modern possibility allows you to leave being a Squirrel behind like a bad smell. This doesn’t mean that seeing your work in print will be easy, but it does mean that with the right strategy, work ethic and perhaps a little help along the way, the doors are open to everyone.
Writing software makes it simple to maintain steady progress on your daily pages while keeping accurate track of your word counts. Networking with other writers and an emerging audience through Twitter and other forms of social media has never been easier, or more advantageous. Authors can build communities a year before their book comes out, and with the blog to book format, they can publish excerpts as they go along, constantly whetting the appetite of the same audience that will eventually buy the book. Authors can continuously improve the quality of the copy by gauging reader feedback, all while strengthening the author reader bond.
In the last year, David and I have moved from Squirrels to Horses to Lions, without ever looking back. We have several titles on their way to print, while at the same time assisting other authors, taking them to places they never thought they could go.
Being a Lion is easy enough, but you must know that the roar is already inside you.