For all of the aspiring authors out there, I thought it would be great if we could get an opinion from someone who has actually gone through the self publishing process. Many of you have probably already visited his blog, but John Guillen is a great source for refreshing views on writing and reading. Additionally, he has already published an amazing book, which is pictured above and can be found on Amazon. Summer is a great time to discover new books.
Today he is talking about a very relevant topic to anyone presenting their writing career to skeptical family and friends. I am excited to share his guest blog post, and hope you all enjoy it as well.
Is There Such a Thing as Author Stigma?
By John Guillen
First off, I am by no means an expert on writing. I’ve actually only been writing for a relatively short period of time compared to most other writers. But over the course of the last year that I’ve been blogging I’ve been fortunate enough to interact with some GREAT writers who have offered their advice and wisdom to me…for free! How nice is that? Anyway, you should know that before you continue reading the body of this post.
Now you’re probably wondering what the heck it is I’m even talking about. You might be thinking that we all love our favorite authors, right? I know I do. I’ve been lucky enough to meet two of my favorite authors in person, but there are others who I would DIE to meet. And I’m sure you’re the same way. What I’m referring to when I say “author stigma” is what those people who have no interest in reading or the literary world think of authors. I’m not talking about what they think of J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, I’m talking about what they think of you or me. I’ve written a book. I’m an author. Of course no one knows my name and my book has sold hundreds of copies, not thousands or more.
Let me ask you a quick question. Assuming you’re a writer, has your “job” ever come up in casual conversation with someone you may not know on a personal level? If yes, which we both know it has, did you say you were an author/writer? Let me tell you what I’ve done in these particular situations. I’ve been writing seriously for about a year now, almost to the day, and I don’t work a full-time job, and the topic of my education and/or my work has come up a number of times in the past year. I have to admit that I wasn’t always completely honest with the asker. I might say that I have my degree and I’m looking into related jobs. Or I might say that I’m an author. But my hesitancy comes from the unknown of what the other person might say next. The oh so popular, “Have you written anything I might know?” Or the even better, “What’s your book about?” Or the one I dread the most as someone who self-published my first time around, “Who was your publisher?”
These questions seem innocent enough, right? Not exactly. The likelihood of some random stranger talking to you at a party or at your part-time job or wherever knowing your book by name is as close to nonexistent as it gets. The likelihood that they are actually interested in what the book written by a stranger is about is essentially the same as question number one. And the looks I’ve gotten from people I’ve told I’m self-published have never once been positive.
Let’s return to my previous question to you. Have you ever told someone that you’re a writer/author who you didn’t know on a personal level? And what was their response? I’ve had a plenty of people pleasantly surprised, but I’ve had many more unhappy with my response. Remember I’m no expert, but let me tell you why you think this happens. What’s that saying? “Everyone has at least one novel in them.” See, people actually believe this to be true. It isn’t. And you and I both know it. Not everyone can sit down and write a decent book. But if you operate completely outside of the literary world and have never written anything of substance, then it’s impossible for you to know what it takes to be a writer. It isn’t just sitting around all day doing nothing. Writing a book is damn hard, but how would you know that unless you’ve actually done it? Or made a serious attempt. The misconception may arise from the fact that it takes a mere few hours to read a well-written book that took months to write. Imagine being that person who buys a new release on its release date and you’re done before the clock strikes midnight. You’ll likely have to wait another year for the next book by the author. In your eyes as the unknowing reader you might think wonder at the what the heck the author is doing for a FULL YEAR while you’re waiting for the next book. You might even go so far as to say they’re just being lazy and relaxing with their millions. Uh no. Stop it. How often do you think the casual reader thinks of editing or marketing or anything at all related to publishing? I’d say never.
I’ll admit that there is no stigma associated with well-known authors who have dozens of books under their belts, but I’d have to say that there is a stigma associated with those of us who don’t have a seven figure publishing deal, who aren’t instant New York Times bestsellers, and who struggle to make a name for ourselves in the rapidly changing world of publishing.
Now I ask you, do you think there is any stigma associated with your being an author?
I post just about everyday about books on my blog at http://www.johnguillen.wordpress.com
Thanks for letting me guest post on your blog, Kathy!
So, there you have it! I know that I usually don’t share my writing with strangers. I don’t even keep my family informed of my progress. When people ask about my career I tell them I’m getting my degree to work in IT, and that I work in an IT field over the summer. I’ve never told anyone I’m a writer in casual conversation.
I do have good news: I have set a tentative date for the release of my book! After speaking with my cover designer, it’s looking like my book will make its debut at the end of July, or beginning of August.
Thanks for reading, and make sure stop over to John’s blog, and take a look at his book on Amazon!