The Cynic’s ‘To Do’ List for Aspiring Authors.

  1. Read squillions of blog articles that detail definitive ‘to do,’ lists for aspiring authors: you don’t want to miss out on anything. Research needs to be thorough.
  2. Build your author blog: you could probably skip this step if your surname is ‘Anonymous.’
  3. Write frequent and interesting posts for your blog: like this one you’re reading right now, though obviously way better.
  4. Build a fanbase for your blog: to be honest– most of your ‘fanbase’ are not strictly ‘admirers of your writing. They are mutual back-scratchers. It’s all about the numbers, you know.
  5. Interact with other bloggers on a regular basis: my better results have been when I kept my comments polite and courteous.
  6. Establish an Amazon Author page: maybe not required until point #21, but it’s easier to do this while your enthusiasm is still high.
  7. Set up an ‘author’ Facebook page: it’s best to separate your personal life from your author persona. Readers / potential readers of your cutsie YA romantic novel are probably best shielded from your drunken antics last weekend.
  8. Invite all your personal Facebook friends to ‘Like’ your author page: they will, if you badger them long enough. Go on, go on, go on …. Remember, it’s all about the numbers, you know.
  9. Write frequent and interesting posts for your author Facebook page: I don’t – and look how many books I haven’t sold.
  10. Join a Writing Group. Online or the good old fashioned way, it doesn’t matter: don’t just sit there feeling alone and miserable, devoid of any ideas. Spend time with like (empty) minded people – a problem shared is a problem halved and all that.
  11. Read the WIPs of fellow aspiring authors in your Writing Group: actually, you will be well impressed by some. You will be inspired to write to such a great standard. Some though will be complete bobbins.
  12. Feedback to said fellow aspiring authors: try to find that precarious balance between praise, patronising and downright jealousy.
  13. Continue reading books of similar genre to that which you will (eventually) write: being an aspiring author is difficult. It’s fraught with pressures, not least, that on your time. Try to relax with a good book, but one that keeps you in ‘the zone.’
  14. Set aside some regular ‘you time,’ for planning your book: 3am is generally accepted as the only available slot for this. Blocks of ten or fifteen minutes will probably have to do.
  15. OH YEAH – WRITE YOUR BOOK!

  16. Revisit steps 1 to 15 for the next three years.
  17. EDIT YOUR BOOK! self-doubt, familiarity with the story and slight tweaks to the plot that involve complete rewriting of several chapters, mean this step could take another year to complete.
  18. FINAL EDIT OF YOUR BOOK!
  19. Submit book to every publisher you can track down: you owe it to yourself to at least try. If nothing else, once the submissions are made, you have a short period of respite and relief where your life may return to what passes these days as ‘normal.’
  20. Remember to recycle your rejection letters.
  21. Decide to follow the self-publish route: who needs a publisher anyway? Self-publishing means you are in complete control, right?
  22. Set aside a couple of weeks to correctly format your book for submission to Amazon: you won’t be short on advice and help. Fellow aspiring authors are always willing to help. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are not stupid – they are just highly intelligent and technically gifted.
  23. A) Plan a marketing campaign through Amazon and offer your book at a generous discount: this will probably be the most hurtful part of the project. It’s not exactly a ‘loss-leader,’ but it will still stick in your throat to do this. You will likely generate some sales though. Results will however vary in line with how much you outlay on your marketing campaign. B) Don’t worry about the extortionate costs of doing so through likes of Bookbub – you’ll likely be rejected anyway.
  24. Request your doctor prescribe a raft of anti-anxiety medications. Or take up yoga: you will need something to calm you down each morning as you excitedly open your laptop to view the daily Amazon sales reports. Yippee! You made $9 yesterday. (Less, of course, the $10 daily average of your marketing campaign.)
  25. Take advantage of this quiet period and re-introduce yourself to your family: reassure the dog you are not a burglar.
  26. Be amazed as your book, boosted by initial sales to family and friends, rises to be #1 in the rankings: Ok – #1 in the (eg) Books > Home & Garden > Animal Care & Pets > Dogs > Dogs with a lisp, category.
  27. Be amazed at just how quickly your book can fall from an overall Amazon ranking of 3,023 on the first day: remain positive though. The book-buying public are fickle. Things will change.
  28. Nothing changes: after two weeks of crossing fingers, and selling your soul to the double-crossing book gods, you book is probably now ranked around the 2,435,647 mark.
  29. Run a promo campaign to give your book away free: your book instantly shifts 53,178 copies. Well, downloads. Now you need your doctor to prescribe some meds to calm you back down again. Or take up yoga. Again. The initial fad didn’t last long – it never does.
  30. Doctor simply suggests you look at the Amazon sales reports: No royalties from the freebies. You feel such a fool. And only two reviews on the Amazon page. From 53,178 sales? Sorry. Free downloads. The cold truth dawns. People like free stuff. Just for the sheer heck of it. How many actually read your book?
  31. Cheer yourself up by blowing all the earned royalties from actual, proper sales: the family are excited about a trip to the movies. And possibly a visit to the local burger joint on the way home. But best take the credit card for that, just in case.
  32. And tomorrow? Tomorrow, you’ll still be an aspiring author. Tomorrow you’ll start on book #2 and repeat the process all over. It’s just what we do.


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