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After working with dozens of authors over the past decade, I have noticed some patterns. Published authors have established patterns and maintain attitudes that unpublished authors do not.
Published and unpublished authors may take issue with these stated differences. While they are certainly verifiable observations, they are not universal. There are exceptions to every rule.
The following observable differences are not rules or guarantees. You may check every box and remain unpublished. I’m not promising publishing success. But consider these differences a list of best practices for most authors.
Let’s begin with the most controversial observation.
Difference #1 – Consistency
Published authors wake up early and write every day.
You’ve heard the old analogy about putting big rocks in the jar before you fill it with gravel and sand. Your most important and highest priority tasks are your “big rocks.” You must schedule them into your day before your calendar fills in with smaller or even higher-priority tasks.
The benefit of writing early in the morning is that typical daily distracts are still sleeping or closed. You don’t typically receive phone calls or text messages before 6:00 AM. Your family is likely sleeping during those early morning hours.
Regardless of the chaos life stirs in a day, early-morning writers get their daily writing done.
Unpublished writers write sporadically and often at night.
James L. Rubart is one published author who takes issue with this difference.
He is a self-proclaimed night owl who doesn’t write daily. He writes sporadically. But sporadic writing for him means writing eight hours per day for ten days. He may rest for three weeks and then write for ten days.
A small percentage of people can and do make this strategy work. I call them cabin-in-the-woods writers. They can eliminate distractions, and they are physically able to write for long stretches of time. Most people can’t write for eight hours. Shoulder and wrist pain may increase, and creative juices tend to dry up after several hours.
If they could write for eight hours on day one, they would have trouble sustaining that pace for the remainder of the week.
I suspect Jim’s ability to write for long stretches is a product of his former day job in advertising. His mind and body had trained for an eight-hour day of typing, and actual client deadlines forced him to stick with the task until it was done.
Most writers dream of writing this way, but when they get a long, quiet block of time, they end up filling their hours researching or “marketing” on social media. They accomplish very little writing.
Difference #2 – Purpose
Published authors write to educate, entertain, and inspire others. They write to do something.
Published authors write to serve a reader. They are thinking of the people who will one day read their book and deliberately write as an act of generosity and service to future readers. They aim to give information, inspire readers to do or believe differently, or provide an entertaining escape from the real world.
Unpublished authors typically write for themselves. They write to be somebody.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with writing for yourself. Journal writing can be very cathartic and helpful. But if you’re writing for yourself, you have to be okay writing for one reader: yourself.
Difference #3 – Platform
Published authors started building a platform years before their first book came out.
Some published authors have regular in-person speaking engagements. Others have listeners who engage with their radio show or podcast. Still others have collected email addresses from their readers for years and can easily communicate with the large group through email. I even know of authors who have borrowed a platform from another author through coauthoring a book.
I can’t think of a single published author who doesn’t have some kind of platform. If you’re wondering how to build a platform, check out our episode on How to Build a Rejection-Proof Platform.
Unpublished authors have little or no platform.
Some unpublished authors don’t know what a platform is.
If you’re not sure what an author platform is, spend some time reading the following articles by Dan Balow of the Steve Laube Agency that explain:
How do you tell people about your book if you don’t have a platform? Who will you tell about your book?
If you’re overwhelmed by the thought of building a huge platform, start by building relationships because that’s how platforms begin. You can also listen to our episode on Where to Build Your Platform As an Unpublished Novelist.
Difference #4 – Reading
Published authors read books about writing and marketing books.
Published authors never stop learning. I have taught classes at conferences and seen luminaries from the industry sitting in my class, ready to learn. They already know about writing and publishing, but they’re so eager to learn that they’re listening for a new nugget of information that will help them in their careers.
Whether you’re reading books or listening to podcasts like Novel Marketing or seasons 5, 6, and 7 of the Writing Excuses podcast, you are cultivating your own hunger for learning that will serve you well into the future of your career.
Unpublished authors complain that the publishing world is ignoring their ground-breaking work.
A mindset shift from victimization to “what can I learn?” would serve these unpublished authors well.
Difference #5 – Work
Published authors know that the difference between great and lame is hard work.
There are no shortcuts to writing a great book or becoming a bestseller. Published authors know it takes hard work. They know they must earn industry attention by being faithful in the little things, such as revisions, tweets, blog posts, and magazine articles.
Unpublished authors feel that they are the next best thing just waiting to be discovered.
Woody Allen said, “Eighty percent of life is showing up.” You see that principle demonstrated in all professions, especially when writers start a blog and abandon it after a few posts when no one engages.
Entitlement and dogmatism reign amongst angry unpublished authors. Not all unpublished authors are angry. But if you’re unpublished and feel offended and ignored, consider the possibility that you still have something to learn about writing, publishing, or communicating.
Difference #6 – Website
Published authors typically have a website that is usually www.TheirName.com.
If you’re just getting started, you need to go online and buy www.YourName.com.
If www.YourName.com isn’t available, you may need to add your middle name.
I have helped authors figure out what author name will be printed on their books by researching what domains are available. If you don’t own www.YourName.com, your other marketing tasks become harder.
If you’re having trouble finding the right domain name for your website, listen to the following episodes for help:
- How to Stand Out When Your Name Fits In
- Major Mistakes You Might Be Making with Your Author Name
- Seven Tools for Finding the Ideal Domain Name
Unpublished authors have a free Blogger blog that they rarely update.
Not only is their website URL hard to share verbally (it’s www.blogger.myname.com), they aren’t consistently adding new content.
Your website is your business card. When you meet someone at a conference, you can count on them googling your name and looking for you online.
Even if you’re not ready to create a website, you can still buy your domain name for $10.00-$15.00 while it’s available. (Just don’t buy it from GoDaddy.)
I had a brilliant idea for a book title once, but I didn’t buy the domain name since the book wasn’t ready. I pitched the title to agents, and they loved it, but when I went back to purchase the domain, someone else had already bought it. It was no longer available.
Difference #7 – Marketing
Published authors see marketing as part of their mission to entertain, help, and inspire others.
Indie publishers especially understand that marketing is central to their mission, and they make it part of their business plan.
Unpublished authors see marketing as their publisher’s job.
These authors view marketing as something that gets in the way of their writing and not as an integral part of disseminating their message.
Differences Can Be Overcome
None of these differences are secret or hard to emulate. And as I said from the beginning, they are observations I’ve made in a decade of working with authors.
If you’d like to push back or disagree, particularly with the first observation, please pop in at authormedia.social, and let us know what time you do your regular writing.
It’s the difference between wanting to be an author and being an author.
According to this I am the very definition of the “Unpublished Author”. 9 books…none published
This is insightful and right on the mark, except that it isn’t necessary to get up early to write consistently. It’s possible to become a published writer by writing for several hours every evening instead.
I agree. I write nearly every day, but not always in the morning. In fact it’s most often at night. Published authors also have day jobs and kids, so writing in the morning isn’t possible for everyone. I don’t have the day job, but I have a family with a hectic schedule. My husband has a day job. We both do most of our writing in the evening, or at night.
(Thank goodness I tick all the right boxes, although I write in the mornings and in the evenings. Could’ve been embarrassing otherwise!)
I must admit the writing mornings is difficult when you’re tied to a day job for income. Otherwise I would happily write all day.
I would agree with you if things didn’t come up in the evenings. After a special meeting a church, PTA and date night suddenly it becomes hard to be consistent.
I do know authors who write from 11pm-1am every day. There is nothing magic about mornings other than that it is easier to be truly constant in the mornings. Generally, Everyone is free from 5:30am till 7:30am.
Except for those of us who also have young children we have to get ready at that hour because they go to daycare early. There is no universal constant.
It’s very difficult for me to function in the morning. My brain just doesn’t work before two PM. But I don’t generally have things to do at night, besides tucking my kids into bed.
I’d like to live in the world where every morning was free between 5:30-7:30. My son is up at 5:15 for school and I’ve got a 9 to 5 to get to shortly after he leaves. I’m published. I don’t think time of day makes a difference. What really made the difference for ME is that when the sun was out and people were heading out to the park or the pool. My butt was in a chair and I was writing. I missed dozens of movies I wanted to see. I didn’t get to the grocery store on time. I don’t see half the concerts I want to go to. I don’t get to chat on the phone and gossip with the girls ever. When I wanted to be anywhere else but in my chair–I was in my chair doing the work. Time of day doesn’t matter. It’s sitting in a chair and writing when you could be doing anything and everything else but. Even better is that you’re there because that’s where you love to be, not because you’re expecting a call from Oprah when you’re done.
Seriously, get out of the “morning is always better”. Not everyone functions the same way you do, Thomas. There’s no universal truth that starting early in the morning makes you a better anything.
I can agree with the other points, but I feel you should be more careful judging other people’s lives based on your own. I have no PTA meetings, no church and I don’t date. I have a choir practice 1 evening every week, the rest is open and I rarely entertain friends. As long as you write -consistently- every day, it doesn’t really matter when you do. My office hours are 3 pm till 3 am. If you call me 10 in the morning I’m not available, that’s my personal time.
I agree with Cookie – not everyone functions the same way and mornings ARE private times. I do nothing business wise until after 1pm.
I started writing my books when my children were in primary school, just after coming back from dropping them off at school. Then when we moved from that house, I continued to write during the day – it was quiet with no distractions. Then things got out of hand and I abandoned the project.
Recently, I have one graduated from University and the other still in College. The latter requires day-to-day attention, so my time to write is at night – when I restarted writing (in the last 6 months) I completed 1 novel of 20 chapters (which is split in part one and part two) all at night and added to this another whole second novel with 40 chapters again all at night, which will become part of a series i.e. multiple parts entitled Novel 2 – Book 1 et al.
I will be published by 2015 in print and if I can find the readers/reviewers for my site where my summaries, 3D book covers and sample chapters are to be found, then I will publish in ebook format sooner.
To me, it is of absolutely no use to read that an extremely popular long-time published author says years later that: ‘thanks to my publisher I had to rush writing and finishing books which makes me unsatisfied with the results!’
Anyone should have the right to become an author and not being compared so harshly as you do and Yes I do know what a ‘platform’ is thank you very much.
I am in the process of looking for such a platform (besides Twitter and Facebook!) to encourage readers to view my samples in order to reach my target audience particular to the style I’m writing about.
At the end of the day, there is no point in sending your own writings about a specific style, fantasy/romance/fiction, to a person and/or company who is only interested in Crime Fiction – that would be a waste of time major since they won’t like it and automatically will reject – so what’s the point.
It seems to me that you only want Published Authors and the rest of us should go suck up ink somewhere…
I know of three authors that comes to mind, that if they would have accepted and read your differences would have given up and never broke through and the literary world would be a sad place of not having these wonderful books.
I rest my case your honour!
Woh! What a rant! Did he hit a nerve???
By the way, I agree with the morning thing. When I started writing first thing in the morning I became a LOT more productive.
The ones who can write late at night, kudos, but I know most people are freshest in the morning. And even though I’m a night owl too, and do occasionally write at night, I have to admit it’s best in the morning.
That way you have all day to mull it over and edit while you’re tending to daily stuff.
Not only do I write fiction but I also do business writing and I would agree with most of these things, but the time of day is true, I stay up late for my international clients and so oftentimes I write a new short story or poetry at 4:30 A.M. because thats when I have some time. I usually sleep from about 7 am to around 2, thats the schedule and it works usually! I think consistency is very crucial and marketing myself for my business will make marketing any potential books and such absolutely crucial as well. I think you should write everyday, when you can, if its a blog post before bed or 10 pages during breakfast.
Frankly, you may alienate some writers with the tone. I’m not easily offended, but I was thinking there would be some irony here to balance the meanness. But it came across as just mean. Though your points are most likely true, for someone who is attempting to market their services to writers, I would think that a more collegial, or instructional approach to these binary oppositions would be more universally accepted.
Those who are going to be alienated probably don’t have a thick enough skin to make it as a writer, period.
I thought the seven points were bang on.
These 7 points are not only very true for writers and authors, they are amazingly true for business owners and probably anybody else who is a success compared to a wannabe.
I know very quickly which of my business coaching clients have a snowball’s chance of owing a successful business just by a few simple characteristics such as you’ve described.
Nicely done. Love it when things are plainly said.
Provocative, but apt. I think it may be better to talk about the difference between a successful writer and an unsuccessful writer, rather than published vs unpublished. Publication is a measure of success, but its not the only one. JD Salinger wilfully avoided publication after he saw points 2-7 looming like the grim reaper. I think he foresaw that phoniness would creep into his work if he was driven by hype. But today, there is only one JD and the rest of us need the extra help…
My thoughts exactly- except I went the Melville, Steinbeck & Jack London way with knowing something about your subject. And perhaps the only extra help we really need comes from the body of work itself- a good story- and let’s say, proper editing of the rest.
Agree with title of #1 and that’s it. In general I think published writers write every day. The time of day is utterly irrelevant as long as the consistency in hours is there. The rest of it I not only disagree with but know is patently untrue.
Strongly disagree with just about all of this.
Agree with many of your readers about the time of day thing. No way would anything I write before 10am be worth anyone’s time to read a single paragraph. I am at my most clear and coherent about 6pm- midnight. And I write just about every night. CONSISTENTLY. Why not change this to something like : A writer knows when his/her peak time of day is, and capitalizes upon this by dedicating this time to his/her craft by using it consistently to write, every day. There. Much better.
I have had a small book published by a major professional organization, numerous articles and will have another article coming out soon in a very reputable journal, for which I got very strong positive feedback. I am a published author – and have done almost none of the above. I consider myself a success as a writer; my writing and professional colleagues regard me as such too, I believe. I am not a full time writer. I have a full time Other Job.
For me, success is not about how much money I make, how many people know my name, or how many copies of whatever have sold. (Although it appears that this might be the definition of success used above in your post). Success is seeing my work published, enjoying the research and writing that go into it, and having others tell me they enjoyed what they read or that they learned something.
Perhaps your list should be qualified by the type of writing you are talking about. Is this the Great American Novel we’re talking about here? Maybe your points are more applicable to that type of writing than other types of writing.
Many of these points are not even applicable when you do niche writing. Finding a niche and making it mine, and marketing my work the old fashioned way – finding a unique subject and perspective and persuading the publisher it will be of interest to their readers or fit their niche is how I have been successful. It is what has worked for me.
I love what the writer [right above me] has to say. This author’s blog [the one with the eggs] is just one more nail in the coffin of literary agents and the big publishing houses. They are scared, as they should be, that whiters/authors are rapidly taking publishing into their own hands. This blog denegrades the unpublished author, but attempts to hide it behind two eggs with happy/sad faces. It’s simply another attack on e-publishers and the flood of good writing that is hiting the e-readers. Tell me, when was the last time you picked up a book that was published by the BIG 6 and said, wow, this is so much better than i can write. Not very often, and I read a lot. The publishers are feeding us garbage. E-publishers of the world unite! We can overcome these demeaning blogs and set the ship right! 🙂 [Egg with a happy face].
Here here! Pam kudos to you that’s the spirit 8-D!
You need to calm down. It’s not a personal attack on you. What is the name of your book, Author?
I’m a pretty widely-published writer: I’ve written and edited fiction and non-fiction books, lots of articles, and poetry even; and I’ve won a whole heap of prizes for my work.
Not a single one of these points works for me. It’s all too prescriptive, and lecturing: especially the one about having to get up early and write “everyday” [sic].
From my perspective you’ve got this one seriously wrong, I’m afraid.
Yeah, some of these points are good, but mostly you’ve phrased them in such a didactic, I-know-all tone, that the good is lost.
I doubt very much that every successful author follows your ‘rules’. There is no one path to publication, other than writing an appealing book. Not necessarily good, or literary, or ground-breaking; just appealing.
#1 – I happen to be a morning person, but I have to agree with the other commenters that you need to know your own best time. I prefer to write before my day-job because I’m usually too wiped afterwards, but the night-owls out there would probably struggle to even be out of bed at 6am, same as I rarely see midnight.
#2 – No, no, no! I write fiction purely to entertain, not to help or inspire others (non-fiction is another matter). Sure there’s a danger of self-indulgence when writing purely for yourself – you have to be aware of current readers’ tastes if you want to sell – but in my genre, “inspirational” narrative would be a total turn-off.
#7 – you need to distinguish between marketing and promotion. You can and should get involved with promoting yourself, through networking and connecting with readers, but marketing your book (getting it into shops, etc) is your publisher’s responsibility. Otherwise you’re on the slippery slope to vanity publishing…
The rest I more or less agree with – I can hardly disagree with #6 since I have one! 🙂
This was certainly provocative! You gave me much to think about. While there might not be any true hard and fast rules, your experience is worthy of consideration.
Me, I’m more a night owl but most people are free probably at 5:30am…but me, I’m usually busy getting my beauty sleep 🙂
I also disagree with a lot of this, too. I'm published in short fiction and articles and have written three unpublished novels. Writing is writing. If you write five pages in the morning or in the evening, it's still the same page count.
Platform sounds like you're talking about non-fiction authors, but a lot of the commentary is directed at novelists. The two forms of writing are not the same. It's pretty hard to have a platform for a novel.
Work–You mean the unpublished author isn't out there working hard to write good books and submitting to agents?
Web site–A sweeping generalization that isn't true.
Marketing–I'm happy to go out and promote the book–but "help & inspire"? On a novel? Seriously?
I'm an unpublished author and i would check off most of the boxes on the published side. What really bugs me is this post seems to give the impression that unpublished writers are unprofessional lazy whiners. Which in many cases is flat out untrue. Unpublished authors don't have the luxury of picking when they write because they usually have to keep a day job, and they write with no guarantee of financial compensation All authors were unpublished at some point and their work ethic didn't suddenly change the moment their book rolled off the press.
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Great job, you have really differentiate the difference between published and unpublished. Keep up the good work.
It was an interesting post.. Although I see your points as being less about published vs. unpublished as serious in pursuing a career vs. not being serious. I had that work ethic long before I signed my contracts. And like Sarah, I did all the right things in order to sell my books.
One more thing – platforms. I really really hate that term.. I know, I know – it's a competitive industry and it's market or die. I get that. But we, as an industry, spend so much time worrying building our "platforms" when we should be worrying about creating good, sellable, readable books. A good platform, like good marketing and good networking, is based in authenticity. I think unpublished writers are far better served worrying about keeping their writing a priority than they are worrying about their platform. But that's just my opinion.
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I agree with you on the unpublished writers worrying about keeping their writing a priority. A writer can have the best marketing material but if the writing is not good then it's all a waste of money and time. Concentrate on getting your writing skills down and something good to present, and then worry about the rest.
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I don’t like that the “platform” part of things eats into my writing time. I know it’s important but it is also easy to resent the daily time it takes at the beginning. What’s worse, I lost my site and had to start over (unpredictable economy and all).
I work, I take care of others, and I write whenever I can squeeze fifteen minutes together, but my block writing time is from 9 pm-midnight.
I disagree with all of this, because at some point published authors were unpublished authors. The time and day doesn't determine if someone is a good writer or passionate. And wanting money out of it isn't bad either, some people want to get paid doing what they love. In hard times like these, money doesn't get you complete happiness but it helps take care of the family and bills/life expenses; which are unfortunate struggles.
It’s about dedication & consistency. Here’s the difference: People who write and Authors. If you do not have a published BOOK, you are not an Author.
That’s an awful lot of typoes for the big talk you’re doing.
I will like to also add your wrong about the website thing, some people cannot simply afford owning a real website in their monthly or yearly expenses. I'm an unpublished author a young one at that. but I'm not lazy like on your list, I want to give entertaining and original plots. I'm researching the market on not just the internet but taking surveys at the local libraries. looking at the most demanding genre's in novels and most repeated storyline.
yeah, I write at a slow paste but I write in the day and at night. Plus I re-read my work to not just see mistakes, but see if everything flows and connect.
I think most people take writing to lightly and never put forth the effort to promote themselves like a business. Your manuscript isn't enough anymore. A website, IMO, is one of the best marketing tools for a writer. Nice article!
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This speaks of truth, hard work, and dedication. It takes a great deal to be a published author! Thanks for this article!
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Does the 'get a website in your name' difference count for a teenage writer as well? To be more specific, a teenager in a third world country about to go to med-school for the next five years?
And, is there any substitute for writers' conferences in a place where there are none!
Any help would be really appreciated!
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The best substitute for writers conferences is reading books on writing.
-The Elements of Style (4th Edition )http://amzn.to/h9NiLO
-Writing the Breakout Novel http://amzn.to/ehREjE
-On Writing' by Stephen King http://amzn.to/dXr5qU
Wow – well, Thomas if it makes you feel better I agree with you. Writing is more about hard work than talent, and while story must come before message there are numerous examples in history where truths and traditions were taught and maintained through story. It doesn't matter how well you write, if you want more than your own immediate network of family and friends to buy your book – you need to think about marketing and platform long before you publish. Platform isn't required for fiction writers true, it's considered icing on the cake – but I'm going to do everything I possibly can to stand out from the crowd. I can't think of many successful fiction authors who don't have a website/blog/facebook page/twitter profile. If I want the latest novel Stephen King novel, checking out stephenking.com seems fairly logical – Unless you only ever plan to publish one novel.
(from one half of the Mt Hermon peanut gallery)
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I agree with you, these rules are not universal. But that's what I noticed with dozens of writers and aspiring writers.
I don't have platform or maybe I do. It's called, 'I don't give a schtook'. All the 'mainstream' Anglo-Saxon business puritan bull hockey is listed there. If a 'writer' is gifted, he/she will succeed regardless of the rules of the 'establishment'. History is filled with those 'untrained', 'uneducated' authors who made their way, became famous and sold some serious books despite all the upright, seasoned publishers and big corporations who despise them.
Ah yes, Marketing and Promotions, irreplaceable 'platforms' of the greatly flawed entrepreneurial system. Why are your rules better than the rules of those who are unpublished and unsuccessful by your standards? There seem to be an attitude in that list that implies that all unpublished writers are not worth as much as those who are published. A great work will find a way to its audience no matter what.
Ouch! As a writer who is self-published but yet to be picked up by a publisher, I’m really dumbfounded that you would get that impression of someone like me just because I’m not “published” yet. This is really great article for someone who is published and feeling pretty good about themselves, but for those of us who are writing and doing our very best, who believe in our message but the timing hasn’t been favorable yet, I would bet that we would all be pretty offended. How can you judge our heart motives based on whether or not we are published yet? Every published author started somewhere…and it wasn’t at the top.
I agree Leslie. I am not published yet, but laziness is not the reason. The fact is, all the published authors out there were once just like me. I will be sure to encourage unpublished writers to keep writing and never give up. That’s exactly what I am doing. Not all day of course. Sometimes after my shift at work. Sometimes in the morning. Sometimes after I spend quality time with my wife and kids. Other than that, i would be able to sit in my basement for 24 hours listening to mozart writing all day.
I love your writing style really loving this website .
Wow…. I’m not a published author and I do not regard myself as an unpublished author either. I write to help myself understand the real problems in my life that don’t make much sense and I use my characters to explore choices that in real life could have disastrous effects. My books have not only helped me understand teenage angst and family rivalry but they have a similar effect on my friends who I’ve let read my books.
Your “list” is grossly wrong and I can name 17 authors who literally stumbled into being a published author. They wrote books because their heart and mind was set on converting their inner most thoughts and feelings into words and from there into a story. History writers, biographers, novelists, fiction writers etc they all do it because the desire is strong within them to see their mind exposed on paper.
The time they spent writing is irrelevant. Some write a page a day and others may write a chapter a day. Regardless, it’s their story to tell at their own leisure.
Like paintings, sometimes your vision is only understood 30 years after you made the painting because no 2 people think the same way or feel the same way. Your medium in which you express yourself needs to be understood by the audience for you to be able to share your story with them.
Bide your time.
Agree with Sarah….”I’m an unpublished author and i would check off most of the boxes on the published side. What really bugs me is this post seems to give the impression that unpublished writers are unprofessional lazy whiners. Which in many cases is flat out untrue. Unpublished authors don’t have the luxury of picking when they write because they usually have to keep a day job, and they write with no guarantee of financial compensation All authors were unpublished at some point and their work ethic didn’t suddenly change the moment their book rolled off the press.
Also this came across kinda mean. Not really impressed. I’m an unpublished author, but have just picked up a publisher for a non fiction knitting book. I have a platform via facebook/twitter/blog…etc. I feel that any author willing to put the time and energy into their craft can make a go of it with much persistence.
Hi, Thomas –
I think you should add: “Checks meticulously for sloppy spelling errors” to your list of published writers’ traits. Yes, a professional editor will catch most of these (although sometimes not all), but when you misspell the first header of this blog post, it’s a bit difficult for someone who doesn’t know you to take you seriously. It’s spelled: consistency. No “a.”
In general, the stark differences you lay out are true, although I think your commenters made a good point of objecting to the “time of day” rule you laid out. Published authors also hold on to day jobs (a more reliable source of income, unless you’re a NYTBS author), so they are actually being very dedicated in working at night, during what little free time they have.
Just my two cents, but thank you for spurring a good discussion.
Interesting to note that just reading the comments, one can tell who has a published book and who does not. Writers v. Authors: You have to earn the title of Author. Just placing it after you name does not make you one. If you do not have a book published, you are pretending. You are a writer, not an author. Consistency, dedication and discipline. Confidence. Originality. No complaining. The people who see the article as a guideline are already, or will become, published. The people who are complaining about the article will just continue to merely write, whenever they can.
Isn’t it possible that a published author can see the merits of the article as a guideline but complain that they think the tone is incorrect in stating that all unpublished authors are a certain way? It’s really the English major side of me that cringes at the absolutes and reads this and can’t help wanting to interpose that they have given the title of this post and the distinctions between the two the wrong terms. This is not a post about the differences between published authors and unpublished authors but rather suggestions of the right things to do and the wrong things to do as a writer/author. So, while it’s a decent article, a few of us are suggesting that it might have been better approached from a different angle.
So disgrace and disrespectful first of all… Never disagreed that much in my life for a writing which’s written by a professional media company CEO who works for authors.. Weird isn’t it?
What if I am doing something else to earn my life, a totally different profession, then i realized that I am writing good, spend time in nights, completed 2 books in 3 years, have no time for internet website or publication, no time for writing long-short weird blogs, lets say doesn’t interested in website? Why I suppose to write about my life or something I thought and share with others in blogs? I am not suppose to do that! anyway, this is another discussion point, lets skip this…
OK, With respect to all authors, we shouldn’t separate them as published (successful), or unpublished (losers). I don’t expect you to look from an artists vision since you are fully concentrated on selling your product as a media CEO. You are right! You will call them unpublished losers so they will spend money for promotion or website designs or bla bla from your company.
Whatever you’ve written is ok for me, probably difference between idealist writer and the one who doesn’t care what he/she’s writing but it’s not representing the difference between unpublished and published writers since you have no knowledge about the subject so far. Sorry, you are terribly failed son, you should start from the most bottom position in your company before promoting as CEO 🙂
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Right on the money!
Excellent post. There is a huge difference between the “wanna be” authors and those who are rolling up their sleeves and doing it.
It’s not always easy to stay focused but it’s worth it. I am finishing up the first draft of my next book and at times I think, “Whew, when will this be done.”
But when I get in the flow and keep writing (yes, even when I am not inspired) I get pretty excited because as was stated in #2 – I have a purpose for the book’s content.
Thanks for some great insights.
What an interesting post. After some big changes in my life I have recently decided to follow my dream, my heart, whatever you want to call it, and pursue my writing as a full time career. I am still very new to this whole scene, but just in the past month or so that I have been at it, I can tell you that between research, marketing, building a platform, and actually writing, I am putting in well over 40 hours a week at this (probably closer to 80!).
When I first read this, I found the tone to be a bit “holier than thou,” but after thinking about it for a minute, and reading all of the responses, I think this post is pretty spot on. These are all the things that I have started doing already in an attempt to build my career as a writer. So far it is effective. I am making some money, not a lot, but its a start, and I am loving every minute of what I am doing.
I think that you are right, it is hard work that makes the difference. There are millions of published authors in the world, and many of them are not “gifted” they are just passionate about what they do and put a lot of work into making it happen. There are also many gifted writers that go unpublished because they do not put in the effort. I am glad to see that I am on the right track.
The major problem I have with this post is that the author does not appear to have had much if anything published. Therefore, it’s impossible for him to know what the actual differences are between published and unpublished authors. The reason it’s impossible is that the very process of getting published changes your perceptions; it challenges your motives and one way or another will give you insights you wouldn’t have had simply by speculating (as this author is doing).
#1 is nonsense. Can’t believe you’re serious. It would be better to say published authors live, breathe, think and actually do writing all the time.
#2 is too simplistic. The best authors write what pleases them but in such a way that others can benefit from it.
#3 is utter bullsh*t. What’s the point in building a platform before you’ve written anything worth platforming about?
#4: No – published authors used to read such books but now are so trail-blazing in their own writing that they have to produce their own text books.
#5: There is no link between hard work and ‘being faithful in the little things’.
#7: Yes to marketing but no that it’s part of helping and inspiring others.
Overall, as someone else has said, this article is written around a false assumption, i.e. that the two different attitudes a writer can have are a result of whether or not he’s published. This is clearly contradictory in that any published author was unpublished until they were published. Which according to you, means they should never have got published in the first place.
I have one book published by a POD publisher. Before that I didn’t know I needed a platform, hardly ever got on the internet, never took a writing class or read a writing book. I just wrote because I love it. It wasn’t until after I submitted my book, that I started networking with other authors and learned about most of the items you mentioned. Since then, I’ve been doing what I can to get myself out there. Waking up early isn’t feasible for everyone, especially if you have a job and family. I will agree if you’re serious about writing, you must set aside time to write; network as often as you can via Facebook, Twitter, and other social media; and educate yourself with books and blogs about writing. I disagree about having a paid website vs. a free site. If you’re just starting out as an author with only a few books published or none at all, how can you justify spending a lot of money on a website? My paid website is up for renewal. I had it for five years now, but can no longer justify spending over $200 every two years on it when the return isn’t that great. I switched over to a free Blogger account which I really love, and I know other authors–some multi-published and successful–who use Blogger. I’d rather spend my money on book research, writing workshops, and other things that will make me a better writer.
I think the key with #1 is consistency. The time of day isn’t important if you are consistent. Whether thats nights, your lunch break or early mornings. I would say unsuccessful writers intend to write at night or at other times, but something always comes up.
Most of the time I enjoy and appreciate your blogs, but this has to be the worst post you guys have ever done. I understand what you’re trying to communicate, but there’s so much generalization in your statements that they’re useless and untrue in their comparisons. Having a platform and website are helpful, but they don’t make you a published author. As for all the other points, yes, those are essential for published authors, but I know plenty of unpublished authors that do those same things– and they might very well remain unpublished authors. Publishing is a competitive industry. Even the best works never see the light of day. To make it sound like you just need to do the 7 things on your list is a great disservice to aspiring authors.
Pretty accurate except for when you write. I usually write several thoughts upon waking in the morning that come to me but my best writing is during the late night hours, sometimes through the next morning if I am especially inspired.
Website, blogging creating a platform…all yes. You can create a platform if you haven’t been published yet. Why are you writing, what is your mission, who is your target audience, allow a potential reader to get to know you and build a relationship with you so they see you are the real deal, when do you anticipate your book to be out. I think it is a great way to not only get your name out there but it sets real goals and an incentive to get it done!
Not sure how marketing helps others but I sure hope it inspires others to visit my website, take interest in my mission and story and read my books.
For people who write, there are a bunch of you who don’t read! The first words of Thomas’ post were as follows:
“These rules are not universal. But this is what I have noticed working with dozens of authors and wanna-be authors.”
Published authors do not rest on one’s laurels. ; )
You make good points about the things that published authors need to be doing, but I disagree with two things.
1 – That everyone has to write in the morning to be productive. The only thing I can manage to write with my sleep-addled morning-brain is complete drivel. I am not a morning person; my mind is most active and creative in the evening. Everyone has their own preferred time for writing.
2 – Not all unpublished authors fill your “unpublished authors” criteria. You are very negative towards unpublished authors and many unpublished authors do all of the things that you state only “published authors” do. Just because someone is unpublished does not mean that they are not already marketing themselves, setting aside regular writing time every day, learning their craft by reading up on the things they need to learn, working hard towards their dreams, trying to help and inspire others and have their own websites. You really are only distinguishing between what people need to do to become a published author and what some people do that doesn’t work, not between published and unpublished authors. An unpublished author can be a writer who is doing everything right, but their time just hasn’t come yet.
I don’t see a single thing on this list that’s anywhere close to consistently true among published writers.
Perhaps more accurate would be to say this is a list of things that those published writers who seek out your services have in common.
as a “published” author with over ten YA novels, several short stories, essays, and articles..I pretty much disagree with everything in that list..in fact, it was all generalizations and patronizing. Write from your heart..read. Live.
A lot of these comments sound like they’re sitting around the table at a board meeting either terrified of getting fired or striving for a promotion.
I didn’t find this so much helpful, as it was just an aggressive RANT. People don’t want to be shamed into anything, so the effectiveness could have been in here, if it didn’t come across so over-generalizing and, frankly, arrogant.
“These rules are not universal. But this is what I have noticed working with dozens of authors and wanna-be authors.”
This piece isn’t nearly as ranty or prescriptive as the comments would indicate.
The only one incorrect is #1. That would be considered preference (night or morning).
I love this list, though. It’s very accurate and helpful.