Writing as a Career

Recently I’ve had more and more conversations about professionalism as an author. I’ve also seen more posts popping up on how to behave professionally. This is something that comes and goes in waves. Last year there was a lot said on “Authors Behaving Badly” and “Reviewers Behaving Badly”. What I haven’t seen much about is the overall professionalism that is necessary when you decide to make writing your career. Not just with reviews, but at conferences, online in general, and at signings.

So here are a few things I think we tend to forget when we spend day in and day out behind a computer in our PJs.

1. Appearance

One of the greatest things about being writing being your career is the freedom to be who you are. A stuffy suit isn’t always required. While PJs are fine for working at home, when you head off to a signing or conference, I’d recommend making sure you check to see what general dress codes are. Also, make sure you plan your wardrobe to fit what you’ll be doing. If you are on a panel speaking, signing, or pitching to agents you want to make sure you look your best. Even in jeans and a nice shirt.

2. In-Person Attitude

I’ve had a handful of experiences that I would prefer not to repeat when I’ve met an author. It’s important to remember that no matter how big (or small) you may be, you are still a person. Readers will be ecstatic if you acknowledge them with a simple hello. You will more than likely make their day if you offer to sign swag or their book. And if you have a conversation with them about every day life, not just your work, then you’ve probably made their whole weekend. But don’t forget a blow off can ruin the weekend as well. When you are promoting yourself in person, you have to put away all the stress and focus on the positive. Fake til you make it if necessary.

3. On-line Attitude

If you’re anything like me, it’s a lot easier to open up online. As a professional I have to remember just because I’m behind a screen doesn’t mean I can let it all out. It can be easy to type a long ranty post and hit publish. But I caution you to do this. Yes, readers like to see authors as people. That doesn’t mean they want to know all of your dirty laundry. You don’t have to be upbeat and happy all the time, but it’s important to have someone close to you who you can confide in when the waters gets rough. A close confidant is much better at offering advice than the Internet anyway. 🙂

I love writing. It is now my career and I wouldn’t want anything different. It’s always good to remember that this is still a job. One that helps to pay my bills and if I want to be successful I have to be professional–I just get to have fun while doing it.

What tips do you have?

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4 thoughts on “Writing as a Career

  1. Some great tips to remember! Thanks for sharing.

    I guess I would say take a positive attitude. It’s easy to get down about our work, but looking forwards and striving to improve is always a great approach to take and keeps me motived 🙂

  2. Shauna Granger

    I like your point on meeting readers/fans in person and what you mean to them. I know we all have bad days, but whenever I hear about an author being a complete douche to a reader I get ragey. We shouldn’t hear about this. Our livelihoods depend on readers unlike any other entertainment industry job, I think. I know they always say, “don’t meet your heroes” but damnit, whenever someone reaches out to me about my books, they become my hero and I don’t understand authors acting like that.

    I’m just not reading TFiOS (late to the party), and (mild spoilers) the MCs get to meet an author they’ve idealized and he’s nothing like they hoped and it just pissed me off, because I know that happens. I just don’t understand it.

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