A Successful Author

The first time I was asked when would I call myself a successful author, the answer was easy; if I was writing full time it meant people where buying enough of my book that I could do what I wanted.

 

That was when I started four years ago.

 

It doesn’t feel that long, but an aeon of time has passed, so much of my life has changed. Much of it not for the better. And now I know how incredibly wrong I was.

 

I read over and over on Twitter about people making it, they get agents, advances from publishers and all the while a host of “aspiring” authors sit in the wings, clutching their precious creation of fiction, and weep for the day it will be them too.

 

It started to make me sad, seeing so many of them, and knowing I was one among the throng.

 

How could I possibly hope to be a successful author if I couldn’t even publish my books. After 3 very hard years I still only had half of what I wanted out there for readers.

 

One full time self-published writer told me she released a book every three to four months.

 

I hadn’t done that, I spent years in a vacuum of tragedy, seeking to find definition in a life that wasn’t of my choosing, of potentially being barren, of everything that was wrong and everyone in it who laughed at my aspirations.

 

Worse still, I started to see other stories that didn’t have a magical happy ending.

 

About how people’s books were given that gold status; sold to a publisher.

 

But then the advances they got, what happened to them afterwards, it was rare anyone truly made it on one book alone. I started to question what “making it” really meant.

 

Then other stories came out, how the publisher didn’t want another book from that author, how the author lost their way, the golden moment, a brief passage. More and more you read how authors make on average less than ten thousand a year. It doesn’t matter the currency, only that it’s not enough to be a full time author.

 

Authors who’d won awards for books they’d written previously, but worked in mediocre jobs because a publishing contract isn’t a magic wand that changes your life.

 

My idea of success was dwindling with every tweet I read, every article on what it meant to finally make it, only to fall down when no one was interested in your stories anymore.

 

Even the so called full time authors lived in perpetual fear that they weren’t real. They called it imposter syndrome, and even the thousands of reassurances from fans, readers, and writers alike did little to abate it returning in a matter of days in another self-depreciating tweet.

 

If traditional publishing wasn’t the way then what was?

 

I self-published knowing I’d done it because I’d be rejected by a traditional publishing, but hoping after my 21 book novella series was bought up by the masses a golden contract would be handed to me too.

 

I wasn’t prepared.

 

I published a mediocre novella, followed it up with an OK one, and then published a reasonably good book.

 

It was a learning curve, but I felt like a failure.

 

And I wasn’t the only one. For every indie author I saw out there with a brilliant story, who thought to go alone and self-publishing was the key, many have done it unprepared.

 

Bad book covers. Bad editing. Bad stories read by betas who were friends or fellow authors and didn’t want to be honest about picking up parts of the story that were lacking. Learning that your work needs honesty of good editors and beta readers, that not even the first, second, or third draft is perfect is the hardest, most agonising lesson for new writers. Many don’t listen.

 

Writing the story is possibly the easiest part. Its polishing the script, waiting on it to mature, sitting with it and going over and over it again to make it as perfect as possible that is the hardest thing.

 

I have spent too long bent over my keyboard crying for what might have been to let myself do this anymore. To let someone else’s magical success crush the life out of a story I believe in heart and soul. A person I believe in with everything that I have that has given me strength through the darkest hours of my life.

 

It’s me, I have a purpose, and its being an author.

 

But I had to redefine what I wanted my success to be, in order to be successful.

 

THE DEFINITION OF AN AUTHOR IS A WRITER OF A BOOK.

 

I am NOT asking you, I’m telling you, look it the fuck up.

 

I haven’t written a book. I’ve written many. I will write many more.

 

To be successful at selling a book you have to be a salesperson.

 

To be successful at getting a wider audience you have to be in marketing.

 

To be successful at making money writing you have to be good in business.

 

Being a successful author doesn’t require any of those things.

 

Not all of us will ever be able to “make it” to what our inner hearts believe is success without working incredibly hard, every day, and to a large extent have an inordinate amount of luck.

 

Its become very important to me that I realise if I want to be at peace with the event of never “making it” I have to redefine my answer when someone asks when would I call myself a successful author.

 

I am one.

 

Right now.

 

If you’ve ever written a book you aren’t “aspiring” to anything. You are successful at being an author. And if you’ve ever done it, you will have gone so much further than just about anyone you know. Sit back and think about it, how many people do you know had the tenacity to sit down and write a book?

 

Few.

 

In the greater scheme of things, very few.

 

And if you haven’t written a book yet I want to tell you something. Finally finishing that bastard isn’t going to magically make the world a golden, magical, fantasy. It will be the same world. But you, you, my beautiful, creative, magnificent, writer, will be a successful author.

 

 

Sunset chaser

Name Generators

I promised a friend of mine that I’d let them know how I come up with the unique names for all my characters.

Originally I debated doing this, I didn’t want to give away a resource that someone else could use. And as soon as I said out loud why I didn’t want to do it, the stupidity of not sharing it was only exacerbated by the selfishness.

So here are my primary means of finding names that don’t involve going to a website for baby names. Having said that, those are actually helpful for everyday believable names for real people. They’re especially good when they can tell you what was the most popular name during certain time periods, at least for the last few decades.

Any Google search will ultimate help you find something useful, or even vaguely inspiring for what you want. Its important to remember that you can use these as inspiration and change them to suit you, even if its just by a few letters.

I have one I use for random ideas for inspiration, or when I just want to plow on with what I need to do, and I can come back and edit it later. Another to help with place and town name generators, and lastly a person name generator.

Randomness!  – Springhole

I love the random page generator on this one, and it actually helped me come up with some of the first ideas for the initial book I worked on for the Last Prophecy, a book that has yet to be finished.

Springhole has a great assortment of silly, but it has serious undertones, and the creator has a lot of really great information about writing, especially if you are starting out, or trying a different genre.

The one feature I love the most about it is random page generator. It is one of my favourite places to go to before I start working on a novel. With a notepad and pen, I get it to take me to about ten random pages, and on each page I write down whatever the random generator gives me. I then think about my intended story, and refer to the page for inspiration when I get stuck, or set myself the challenge of including those bits to push me along. Sometimes its completely useless, I found myself on a cyber name generator page, and I’m writing a Victorian era steam flavoured fantasy. Interestingly enough a variant of the name ended up in one of my books anyhow.

General Name Generator – Fantasy Name Generators

This one is great for getting place names. Towns, oceans, mountain ranges, rivers, the works.

One of the other parts I like about it is the huge variety of theme. It takes all pop culture in fantasy and incorporates it into their potential word searches. I also like the fact you can use it for names too.

There is one downside I have noticed with it though, and that’s if you want a specific name type, it can end up being a bit restrictive. For example, I was looking up a random Russian name, and it kept ending them all the male names in -ich, and all the female names in vna.

THE Name Generator – Behind the Name

This is by far my favourite, and if I don’t know the name of my characters this is my first stop. It is very simple, but it does allow you to pick places and types, and given that I’ve based my world on an almost alternate earth, its very convenient.

The names also show what they mean, and that’s very important to me and my characters because it is ultimately who they are and what defines them. The meanings behind their names are key characteristics that eventually shine through.

 

The other thing is, you should instinctively *know* your character names, where the story is going, and ultimately what the goal should be for the characters. But sometimes you need a push, or name, without worrying about it. I’ve had another character introduced to a story because it was felt as though it was needed by the editor. The new character was allocated an odd name and actually became integral to the plot. His name was Osewyn, a variant of Oswin, that meant “friend” in Old English. And he ended up becoming one of Andy’s greatest allies, after they started out on less than friendly terms.

Ultimate the name should resonate within you, for all your characters. The less they mean to you the less you want to write about them, the less people will want to read them.

Hope you get as much out of these sites as I did!

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