Behind the Books: 10 Things Authors Must Do To Survive

Behind all those books on store shelves, library databases, home libraries, audio devices, and e-book formats are a zillion authors churning out words in wonderful medleys for your reading and listening pleasure. And we love it. Most of us never reach the big time but we love the writing itself.

Writing is a satisfying reward for me, too. Getting inside the head of one of my characters, feeling what they feel and struggling for just the right words so my readers feel it, too, is most satisfying. On the days when I write a sad scene, I know it’s working when my tears stream as quickly as my fingers type.

I am that rare author bird, though, who loves many of the other author duties that come with having a trilogy out and a new biography on the way. Perhaps my readers will be surprised to know that often I could work 5-6 hours a day on my writing business and never once do any creative fiction or non-fiction writing. That is why I am most diligent at setting aside my two hours writing time in the morning before I let the rest of the job take over. I unplug my landline, turn off my cell, shut down my Outlook and close my office door as a sign for my husband who often works at home, too.

Once the actual writing is done for the day a whole lot of other things flow into the suddenly vacant space like water when we pull a finger out of the glass. Here is a list of some of the main time suckers that haunt me.

Ten Things Authors Must Do To Survive

  1. Write summaries of various lengths to submit with book proposals or to contests, etc. Every avenue of advancement has differing requirements, all of which take up time and if we¬† don’t follow the rules, our submissions will be ignored.

  2. Read books related to the subject you might be writing about or researching. For a writer of historical fiction, this is huge. Luckily, I love it!

  3. Write queries for agents and/or publishers. Even though I have my own publishing company I’ve done my share of this tedious job and expect to do more of it with my new project. Again each must be personalized for its intended recipient.

  4. Interview other writers and be interviewed yourself. People love to hear what makes a writer tick. I really like doing both sides of this and take time to compose intriguing and thoughtful questions and answers.

  5. Write newsletters to and for those treasured readers who have signed up for your list. I love these people and will go to great lengths to give them interesting stories twice a month. They are the best. Oh, and my weekly blog followers are on that list of fabulous people, too.

  6. Support fellow authors by interviewing them, reading their work, following them on social media, and writing reviews for them, not to mention actually attending their book launches as they attend mine. We are a kind community.

  7. Sign up with Google Alert and check the daily emails. I put certain topics that relate to my books there in order to see what’s related in the news and online. Putting each of my book titles on there brought me a few surprises, not all of them pleasant.

  8. Send threatening letters to thieves of my work. Yup. You read that right. Through Google Alert I found my book titles offered for free in PDF formats. It’s taken me 10 years to produce the Loyalist trilogy so I was not pleased to learn of this insidious practice by unscrupulous people offering my books for free. Another writer yesterday told me most of these people are looking to get email addresses so that they can use them for nefarious practices.

  9. Google Alert also gives me places where I might offer my services as a speaker or to a reporter in connection with a topic they are covering. There are also other places to do that and I must start working to build a list of them.

  10. Prepare speeches and workshop materials for speaking engagements. I like to tailor my talks to a particular group’s interests and that works well. It also takes time.

You will note I said 10 things but there are thousands of other things. I just don’t have time to write them all down.

Oh, one more I must mention. This Canadian author has spent hours trying to get the proper IRS documentation which will make my life a lot easier and my pockets a little fuller. My accountant husband has carried the torch for this but we’re still not out of the red tape.

So all you readers, know we love you all the more because you make our hard work so worth it. Thanks to each and every one of you!

About Elaine Cougler’s Loyalist Trilogy