Thursday, July 14, 2011

I Am Sorry To Say It, But Established Authors Play By Different Rules

Too often, on the loops, on blogs or in discussions at conferences, I hear authors tell me they did something with their writing or their career because they have heard other authors doing it. This is really becoming apparent lately with the move of some authors to move their work to a "self-publishing model." I have also seen this at conference when keynote speakers or established authors discuss how they approach their writing and their work with their editor, agent, publicist and so forth. While these ideas are certainly interesting, what most writers fail to realize is that these people are different.

In simple terms, because they are established authors, they can (and should) approach their writing and the career differently.

I remember one conference where I had the chance to hear Debbie Macomber speak. I think the world of Debbie. She is an awesome person and great writer. As she told stories about her writing experience, I saw the writers in the audience madly taking notes. Later, in the hallways, I heard them discussing how they were going to apply those ideas to their own writing. For these writers, they would soon find that the ideas she spoke of would simply not be successful. What they failed to realize is that Debbie was established and they were not. This is part of the reason why when I discussed which sessions to go to at Nationals in New York, I skipped the CHAT WITH... sessions.

When we read of writers moving their works to a digital market, the success or failure of this move depends entirely on their name recognition. Nora Roberts, Tom Clancy, J.K. Rowling all have a name recongition that will clearly sell their books. Nancy Newcomer is not a name that will catch on.

Please don't get me wrong here. I am not saying that what they are doing is bad or that we shouldn't follow what they do, but we have to keep things in perspective. For a new writer, you have to remember that you are starting from the ground up. You cannot violate the "rules of publishing" because you have not proven that breaking the rules will not hurt your sales numbers. You cannot market your book the same way as the established authors because you are "launching" your career, not "expanding" your career.



  1. Extremely important point you're making, Scott. I get questions every day from new writers looking to make it big by e-publishing. My first question to them is, how are you going to get the word out to readers once your book is there?

  2. Thanks for the reminder, Scott. It's all too easy to "follow the example" of an established author, but we newbies forget that the first example we need to look at is getting published / established to begin with.