What Would You Do If You Became a Famous Writer

Yesterday I shared a little video about the “Imaginary Publishing Process,” as well as an anecdote about how it was so relevant to my life because…um…I know someone going through the process.  Well, here’s another one by the same folks that is probably even less likely to pertain to me, but is still really funny.

I particularly like #4.

If I did become a famous author, though, I think my first order of business would be to attach that title directly to my name.  You know, like how once someone has won an Oscar, they are forever known as Academy Award Winner George Clooney/Gwenneth Paltrow/Denzel Washington/Christopher Rouse?  I would want to be known as Famous Author Lorna Doone Brewer. 

Do you think the DMV would put it on my driver’s license?

Comments

  1. Colonel Marksman says:

    What would I do if I became a “famous writer”. … use the money to do hands-on study for my next book. What exactly is the term “famous writer” defining? One million copies sold? New York Times Bestseller? A book of yours becomes a movie?

    Famous writers don’t have their personal lives closely examined by the public like acting stars or political figures too. A few rumors may go around, but all you will be is a name, and to some people, a face.

    Going around boasting the fact helps you not. Fame doesn’t grant the satisfaction you might think, and it isn’t exactly all that wise either. If someone asks me, sure I’d tell them the truth, but I’d carry two weapons on me at all times. People would remember me (I hope) as the realistic author who studied martial arts and military training to write books, and the harsh realities of blood.

    People who think they’re really famous (most notably writers) are in for a surprise when the go grocery shopping. They might get a few shocked people and nice persons who make out their exaspertations. But those expectations will kill you. Almost all authors are specialists, and will never be heard of from some great portion of Americans. They might have their stories remembered on occasion, but you will be forgotten. “Who was it that wrote about…”

    Becoming a famous author isn’t as easy as it may see. Come up with a great storyline. Type it out to roughly 85,000 words, send it off to a literary agent. Your dreams are about to come true, and all you really have to do is repeat the process.

    Writing is an art; and beyond that, it doesn’t take just more practice. You have to conduct extremely thorough research on the stories you’re coming up with. You can’t put in any content you so well please. You have to make it realistic and believable. People who read books are going to be more intelligent than those who watch movies, and book readers are a harder audience to capture. You might want to write a story about a detective in the 1920s. Well, what do you know about being a detective at the time? What was crime like in the 1920s? You know about all the common facts about the Mafia, but are they just legendary folklore, or true? What were the dangers and weapons like? What terminology did they use? What kind of people lived in the area of interest?

    Ok, so skip all that. Write about a fantasy. You’re not done there, either. You have to make sure that your story ideals are original enough that you’re not repeating something all over again. You have to know about psychological effects of romancing, how swords worked and were wielded. You have to be able to consider the mechanical concepts of all working components and how they might interact with real-life animals (for comparison if you made up any). Writers must be engineers, doctors, teachers, administrators, actors, fathers, mothers, priests, geeks, biologists, and many more. Research is hard enough as it is, and you have to know what information to access, where, how, and how to know if it’s credible.

    Beyond that, you have to know how to proofread your stories. You have to carve and re-carve out your plot and characters. And just learning about how words are put together is struggle in itself. Did you know that there’s a big difference between using adjective and adverbs versus verbs and nouns? Do you know about common ‘rules’ about today’s stories that would sell, such as “show, don’t tell”, “characters are core”, “hook the reader at the beginning”, “trim the excess”? Did you know it’s bad to start the story off with 3 pages worth of detailed background explanation? What about the extent of description? What do you describe? How do you get your readers turning the page? How do you end each chapter? How do you end the story? What do you know about weeding out words or watery subplots or transforming them?

    Creating characters is an art all on its own. You have to know how to balance them out. What exactly causes people to identify with characters? How do you hold “suspense beyond belief”? What is that, and how does it work? Can you make full character profiles? Are you able to imagine (better yet, draw) the characters enough to paint a picture or get someone else to? Can you imagine your contraptions or homes enough for a professional engineer to outline and make work for you? What weaknesses should a character have? How do you know the fine line between too many and too much? Are the characters you’re making too steryotypical? Above all, are they believable? If not, why? You have to be able to answer the question “why” through and through.

    What about your audience? What are they reading right now? What’s hot on the market? Do you know how well your genre is selling? How would your writing compete with others? Did you look and see if there were other famous authors you might be competing with? What makes them good and competitive?

    How well can you sell yourself? Should you self-publish? Find a literary agent? Maybe you just need some money for an editor. How many pages should the book be? What whitespace have you created to make it inviting to read. What do you imagine as blurbs? Do you even get to choose your book cover or what’s printed on the back? How do you get your book standing out from the others? Hard-cover or paper-back? Are you willing to get through an ocean of rejection letters? Are you willing to submit to these people, experts in the field for years? Or will you fight back for your ideals?

    Above all, and most importantly… can you take criticism? I don’t mean have someone say, “This story is bad”, and be cool about it. I’m talking about genuinely accepting criticism, and using it. “This character just doesn’t seem believable.” … “This scene just doesn’t many any sense.” … “I don’t like the wording you used in this paragraph.” … How do you respond? Do you fight back and defend your works? Do you know what is good advice and what’s bad advice? Are able to stand taking just a simple, “this was good, keep it up!” or do you feel like you require an explanation?

    The road to becoming a “famous author” isn’t easy at all. It’s trodden with heartbreak, sacrifices, hard (very hard) work, frustration, and a great deal of patience. The average published author can’t even support him/herself without a second job. By average, that doesn’t mean some people are poor, some people are rich, and you have those in the middle; those statistics are really lopsided.

    By the time you publish a single book, you will be dancing in the streets because of the great deal of effort it required. If you haven’t, you’re either extremely lucky or one hell of a writer who doesn’t know it. These things aren’t proven until you’ve sold several copies of several books.

    Becoming a famous author isn’t the matter of triumph. That’s just the natural result of hard working writers who dealt with criticism, got better, learned some do’s and don’ts, and learned and researched, a lot. The triumph is the satisfaction of the entertainment you bring to other people; or perhaps simply getting that one book published.

    If your literary goal is to become a “famous author”, I guarantee that you will never achieve it.

    How are you going to use your money? Do you think that you get 100% of the money sold from the bookshelves? Will you buy a $500,000 mansion, a $50,000 sports car, and give away $10,000 to each of your friends and $100,000 to your mom and dad? Perhaps you’ll pay for their retirement? Uncle Joe wants a new car. Aunt Mary just lost her house to a fire. Your younger brother needs some money for college. What are you planning on doing when you discover you just spent almost a million dollars in a single year, and that you look into your bank account and you hardly have the money for gas and food for the next few months? Write a full-length book and get it published in that amount of time?

    Most of your money is going to trickle in and you’ll probably slowly accumulate it. Have you examined yourself psychologically to see what you REALLY want?

  2. @ Colonel Marksman – Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed and informative comment. We should repost it as a how-to for writers. I think, however, that you may have missed the tongue-in-cheek aspect of this particular blog.

    In answer to your question, I have examined myself psychologically (well, I don’t have the proper credentials, so I had a professional do it), and it turns out that I mostly want those things deemed “normal” according to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Food, shelter, security, etc. Of course, if some publisher came along with a wheelbarrow full of cash and a tiara, I’d probably take that, too.

  3. Colonel Marksman says:

    I sincerely apologize. I think my comments may have been even on the rude side. I am usually able to get along with people exceptionally well, but when it comes to certain kinds of people, I bust.

    I have a particular taste against people who try to use writing as a “get-rich-quick” scheme, even when said people don’t know that’s what they’re doing. I also don’t get along well with people who downsize the skills required in writing as well. It’s not simple, and it isn’t easy. It’s extremely hard work, and even harder to maintain.

  4. No problem, Colonel Marksman. It gave me a bit of a chuckle and a reminder that not everyone gets the joke. (My next post was about poor spelling, and someone was appalled I had misspelled “loser,” because she didn’t realize it was supposed to be ironic.) I happen to agree with just about everything you said! I’ve been freelancing for a few years now and know full-well that it is no get-rich-quick scheme. My business partner is currently working her way through the publishing process with hopes of seeing her book in print someday, so I’m well aware of the hard work and minimal odds of getting that far. Personally, I don’t really want to be famous…too much pressure. I would, however, like to make a good living doing what I love. It sounds like you feel the same.

  5. You pulled out Maslows triangle– thats hilarious! And to the Colonel, I get it. I just skimmed, but I get it.

  6. Colonel Marksman says:

    Well, when you’re a famous author, it’s not so bad: you don’t have your personal life examined by every popular magazine on the shelf in every grocery store. :D

  7. When I’m a famous writer, I’m going to be a writer:-)

  8. What would I do if I were a famous writer? Write another book, of course! That’s the cool thing about successful publication — you make enough money to stop doing whatever miserable job you were working to pay the bills and concentrate on the pleasures of writing. Lovely!

  9. Oh — and wear my tiara while sitting at my desk, of course!

  10. @Lou – Everyone looks better in a tiara.

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