Have you ever met someone who seems to know it all? Or maybe you’ve dealt with children who believe they know more than you do? It’s very frustrating to deal with these people because when you try to help them or correct their errors, they refuse to listen.
As an author, I’m often asked how I became an author, and even more importantly, how others can become authors too.
Truthfully, the longer I’ve been an author which is ten years now, the more I realize how much more there is to know about being an author, that is, a GOOD author.
In today’s world of self-publishing, literally anyone can be an author. You can pay someone to publish your book, or you can do it yourself. The end result – your name is in print. But is that what it means to be an author? In my humble opinion, no, not a GOOD one.
Like you, I have some favorite authors. I love the way they spin a tale, create word pictures, evoke feelings and transport me to other places and times. I want to write as well as they do. But once I take a look at how long those authors have studied the craft, how many years they’ve put into their work, and how many books they’ve produced, I see a vast difference in my own development. Compared to my favorite authors, I’m still a beginner and have a lot to learn, therefore I continue to strive to improve.
Which brings me back to what makes a GOOD author vs a published author. Before self-publishing, it was very difficult to get published. Authors had to pass a number of hurdles, among them learning how to submit clean, edited, grammar-correct manuscripts. Today, traditional publishers still expect clean manuscripts devoid of errors. But unfortunately, many self-published authors skip the editing process or find someone not professionally trained to edit their work before it’s published. The result is a book filled with editorial errors.
I have a friend who started writing a few years ago and wanted to be published, so she found a vanity press and paid them a lot of money to publish her book. She followed that book with another, then another. To her hometown, she is a success. I tried to read her books and couldn’t get past the errors.
She asked me how she could get her books published by traditional publishers, and I carefully tried to direct her to writers’ conferences, hoping she’d learn a few things that would improve her writing. But instead, she told me she thought her experience qualified her to teach a class at a conference herself. Obviously, she does not see her need for improvement. And unless you realize your need, how can you accept instruction?
So I guess it boils down to what your goal is. Do you want to be an author, or a GOOD author? If your answer is the latter, then keep learning.
“Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,” Proverbs 16:20