Monday, June 19, 2017

When you became a published author, what surprised you the most?

I had hoped to join in the fun word warring last week, but I was too busy having fun with the teen writers at the One Year Adventure Novel Summer Workshop. I've taught there for several years, and it's such a fun and loving environment. 

These girls are dressed up for a 1920s party and let me take a picture with them! Aren't they darling? They would have been swell flappers.

Emily, who I've seen at most of the workshops I've been to, brought me a bookmark! And another girl brought a paper lotus to our appointment. So much creativity in that group!

Onto the day's discussion! If you're just joining us, we've decided to do something new for the months of June, July, and August. We're taking turns answering writing questions, just as if we're sitting on a panel at a fancy writing conference. The best part is, we'd love you to answer the questions as well.

Here's today's question:

When you became a published author, what surprised you the most?


Stephanie Morrill
That the insecurity was still there. I thought once I had my contract--or surely when I saw my book on shelves--I would feel validated and confident and all that stuff. Sadly, no.

Jill Williamson
I was most surprised to discover how little time I would have for writing first drafts. Before I was published, I worked and worked to get my manuscripts just right so that they would have the best chance of getting published. Once I had a book out, though, publishers started buying my ideas. (That’s the dream, really.) Yet over and over I underestimated how long it would take me to write those books. I am normally a pretty fast writer, but creating a complex storyworld takes a great deal of effort too. Most often, by the time I had created the world and fell into the swing of my story, I was often behind. I don’t like asking for extensions, so I would work myself frazzled trying to get books in on time. And since I don’t tend to write to any formula, my books are never quite the same in regards to plot, number of characters, or length. This made it very challenging to guestimate how much time I would need when working out the details of a new contract. I think I have finally figured that out, though I’ve also learned that I don’t have to say “yes” to every offer that comes along. I can say “no” or even “not yet,” and I could write the first draft before selling it. Sure, there is always the chance that an offer might disappear and that a finished book won’t sell, but there are times I would feel better knowing I’ve written the book the way I wanted to and didn’t have to rush.

Shannon Dittemore
All the work. You think I’m joking, but I’m not. Outside of the actually writing, there is a ton of marketing work and publicity stuff that authors are expected to do. And depending on your publisher, there’s not always a ton of direction. In all fairness, publishers are often fighting to keep up with current trends and the ever-evolving world of social media. By the time they figure one out, another platform crops up and we’re all expected to be geniuses. It’s a lot to juggle.

We want to hear from you too! If you're published, what surprised you most? If you're not, what's something you learned about writing or being an author that has surprised you?


  1. Honestly, I'm amazed at how hard the whole revising thing is. I'm used to complete rewrites at this point, but I've never gotten to doing a micro-edit because I just give up.

    1. I agree with you fully. I'm working on a macro edit right now and... it's a lot harder because now I feel more pressure to not just write, but write well. I'm also adding sections to my WIP so it feels like another first draft because I need to figure out a beginning. -Mags

  2. I'm not published, but I'm thinking about going a self-published route. The one thing I've learned so far is that writing isn't just creating a story. It's a lot of hard work and dedication. Not everyone is cut out to be a writer/author, but I'm glad God gave me the gift of writing.

    Writing is something I can't see myself without now. I love the whole process. It can be emotional and it can be tiring, but at the end of the day, you've created a world. You've created people. You've given these people something to do, something to fight for. And if one person likes it, then you've succeeded.

  3. I'm not a published, published writer, but I've self-pubbed. I guess what surprise me most was the acceptance. Because I went to this writer conference thing at my local library and there were tons of traditionally published authors, but none of them looked or talked down to me, which was super nice and encouraging!

    1. That's awesome! Acceptance feels good when you've done something and expect some sort of backlash or even no reaction at all. I'm sure your books are awesome.
      (Thanks again for being encouraging.)
      I think self-publishing will have more and more prominence as time goes on. People will get tired of the industry making it hard for them to get published.
      God bless.

  4. For me, it's how far ahead we have to be looking. Before publication, I was used to just focusing on one story all the time. But these days, I'm trying to keep my brain in book 1 enough to promote its release, book 2 enough to edit galleys, book 3 to write, and I have to brainstorm a new series that wouldn't hit shelves for another 18 months at the least. It's strange sometimes to be working so far ahead of what any of my readers can see!