Nonfiction | To Be Seen and Unseen

How to “Make it” as an Author

Literary Virtue in the Branded Age

Dear Charles, 

At the end of the day, and if you want to “make it” as an author, uploading your debut novel to Amazon in hopes of recognition is like recording a song on Garage Band, putting it on YouTube, and hoping it will go viral. (Of course, when I say “debut novel” I assume you’ve been through so many edits and drafts that if you look at it again you’ll scream like a banshee and punch the wall). As a personal accomplishment, I think it’s awesome you’ve got something “out there.” You did it, by god(s). You should be proud. Think about the ratio of people who say they’re working on a book to those who actually accomplish it–it’s small. 

Charles, let me tell you: completing that campaign without any “online presence” was a doozy (I didn’t even have Twitter when I started), but let me tell you: it wasn’t impossible. I contacted every person I had ever made a connection with in my life, and also met more than a few kind souls at public bus stops and local bars. But let’s be real: I am proud of Slim and The Beast, sure, but I have a feeling the reason I’ve sold over 1,200 copies has less to do with my heretofore undiscovered literary genius and more to do with the fact that I benefitted from a marketing campaign that was intended to get Inkshares off the ground (it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a completely unknown author to get a book tour and attend a major bookseller conference). 

Be sure to share the work with others, listen to critical feedback (and digest it), get rejected (and understand the difference between someone rejecting your book and you as a person). Revise, rethink, get rejected again, and continue onwards. If you’re not writing every day, or at least thinking about writing every day, the math doesn’t add up: Malcolm Gladwell’s “10,000 Hours” idea may or may not be bullshit, but unless you’ve made writing an integral part of your lifestyle, it’s fair to say you’re not well positioned to “make it” as an author.

To fail as an author is human. To succeed as a writer is divine. 

Write on.