43. Author Career: What Is It?
This week Kelly and JJ start a new series about AUTHOR CAREER. What is it? How do you manage it? What do you mean we have to think about it???? They share tips about how to navigate the boundaries between your public and private selves, as well as how to handle criticism. Also, we're still at a loss for what to include after our main segments, so send us your questions and funny comments and we'll read/answer them on the podcast!
Our podcast episode about Author Brand and Platform
This episode will be about the business part of writing, not the artistry of writing. It is crucial, once you are published, to separate you as the writer, and you as the author. This intersection between business and art is a hard one to navigate and will likely be something most of us will struggle with throughout entire careers.
The most successful authors tend to be savvy about their careers; their output is both strategic and organic.
Book output is a bit like jobs on a resume: each book should make sense over the whole of a career
Outliers are generally not great.
Writing is not necessary as mercenary as saying "I am going to make my author career XYZ," but consistency is something to keep at the back of your mind.
The reasons authors take pennames often have as much to do with career decisions as much as protecting privacy.
Examples of pennames used to distinguish types of books: Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb, J.K. Rowling/Robert Galbraith, Victoria/V. E. Schwab
Authors also take pennames when their previous sales track isn't so great and want to restart their careers with a fresh new name that doesn't have the baggage of the previous one.
Pennames can be (and often are) open secrets.
Over time, managing an author career is managing audience expectations. This can affect your writing, but how much is important.
Keeping your public and private lives separate is important for one's mental health. It can be useful to have an author persona to inhabit, a "highlights reel" of your personality, if you will.
Having an intimate circle of friends and colleagues independent of your public life is crucial to keep you grounded through the ups and downs of publishing.
Authenticity is definitely something readers prize, but you can be authentic without baring every last corner of your life.
Separating your public life and private life is important because all the outside voices can really start to affect your writing and what you want to put out into the world.
Criticism and rejection is inevitable once you become a public figure. If you rely overmuch on external validation, then you risk losing your sense of self, and your sense of self is your anchor to your creativity.
The danger of listening too much to feedback—good or bad—can be detrimental to your writing.
HOWEVER: listening to criticism from marginalized groups about how your work was hurtful is something you should listen to. Ignorance or intent is no defense for harm; if you step on someone's foot and break their toe, you didn't mean to hurt them, but it was still your fault you broke their toe. The solution? You apologize, offer to pay for their hospital bill, and say you will try your absolute hardest not to step on their foot and be more careful of where you step. Your response will reveal your character.
You cannot control everyone's response to what you write. Once your book is out in the world, it many ways, your book no longer belongs to you.
When it comes to managing audience expectations—not every book will have a fandom, but every book will have fans, and fans will come to expect things from authors and books.
You cannot meet everyone's expectations fully. You don't owe anyone anything that makes you uncomfortable or unsafe.
On the other hand, you cannot control or police your fans' relationship with your work. Let them play with the toys you create.
Be mindful of boundaries, and keep yourselves safe.
Books Discussed/What We're Reading
The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling
The Cormoran Strike books by Robert Galbraith
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child by Jack Thorne and John Tiffany, with a story by J. K. Rowling
Off Menu Recommendations
World's Okayest Moms podcast
What You're Saying
We really do love and appreciate every review you give us, and to show our thanks, we’re gonna call them out on the podcast itself! This week:
Love it! ★★★★★ esky44 I listen to a wide range of podcasts, but Pub Crawl is on the top of my list. I'm always counting down the days to listen to a new one. I love the hosts. They come across so relatable, and in a type of podcast that could very easily dishearten future writers, they are always encouraging. If you're a writer who wants more knowledge about publishing (and awesome book recommendations) then this will be an instant hit for you.
Hahaha, sometimes we are Debbie Downers (like this week!), but we're glad you find us encouraging! We really do mean to be helpful, and JJ at least believes that all knowledge is worth having. Better information means better decisions!
That's all for this week! Next week we'll continue with this series by talk about QUALIFICATIONS. What qualifications do you need to be a writer? Do you need any? As always, please let us know where we can better help you, and send us some suggestions as to include at the end of the podcast after our main segment, as it's going to be a black hole of recommendations until the holidays.