• Liz Gelb-O\'Connor
  • [SWP: Behind the Book] What does it take to be an author in today’s market?
This blog was featured on 07/21/2016
[SWP: Behind the Book] What does it take to be an author in today’s market?


Photo: L.G. O'Connor (View from Bob Mayer's home at the Write On The River Retreat)

In June, I attended a writers retreat at the home of New York Times Bestselling author, Bob Mayer with three other writers. Bob generously shared his home for the weekend as we worked on taking a book idea all the way to outline. In addition, we talked about the evolving publishing industry. You can read the full blog post HERE.

While I was there, I had an interesting personal revelation. The discussion really spurred me to think about, “What does it take to be an author in today’s market?” If you follow industry blogs and news, you’ve heard the outcry over Kindle Unlimited compressing author earnings, the bust of the Kindle Gold Rush of 2011-2012, the overabundance of poor quality work cluttering the virtual book sales shelves, and the list goes on. Also, a new tone has emerged in the author blogs I’ve been following for several years, as traditional book contracts run out and are not renewed, leaving authors faced with confronting the depressing querying / rejection treadmill as the Big 5 are purchasing less and focusing on the ‘sure things.’ Then there are the authors who are crowing about how well they are doing, and the professional jealousy that flares up in authors whose books are hovering around 700,000 on Amazon, or haven’t published in a while, or are still seeking representation.

To make it in this market, I think you need three things. The first is “resilience,” which I define in this context as the ability to keep bouncing back, and never losing your faith in attaining your goal. It reminds me of something an old boss—and the “best woman” at my wedding—once said to me. She told me she admired the fact that when it came to dating, I always picked myself up, dusted myself off, and gave the next guy in line the same chance as the last. I finally found my husband—the perfect man for me—at thirty-eight, and have never looked back. My perseverance paid off. I’m determined to be the same way when it comes to my writing career. Yes, it’s harder now than it ever was, but not impossible.

The second thing I think you need is a "passion for your writing.” What keeps me here on the bad days are my writing and my stories. The moment I lose sight of that, I’ll be lost. At the end of the day, as a published author, you’re part of the entertainment industry, and it’s easy for ego and book sales to take over and determine our happiness. To me, being a published author means I’m part of one of the most dysfunctional industries on the planet. It really makes you take a hard look at your values and decide who you are and who you want to be. What I discovered? I love my non-entertainment career which pays my mortgage (I really enjoy having a roof over my head!). But I’m also competitive at heart. I hate to lose. Because of that, I have the luxury of continuing to pick myself up off the ground and do the best that I can to break out in this industry, without really needing to worry about the financial aspects… That, my friends, is one of the best gifts ever.

The third thing I think you need is a strong network. This can be a lonely business. Reach out, extend yourself, make friends, and support one another. The laws of karma really do work. Give and you shall receive. One of the most rewarding aspects of being an author for me has been the wonderful writers I’ve met and supported along the way. Part of my joy is to bring others with me, and I’m eternally grateful for those who have done the same for me. 

Collaborate. Support. Believe. Enjoy. Onward. That should be your mantra. 

L.G. O'Connor is a member of the Romance Writers of America and a SWP author of the Urban Fantasy / Angel Paranormal Romance series, The Angelorum Twelve Chronicles (TRINITY STONES, The WANDERER’S CHILDREN, HOPE’S PRELUDE). Her upcoming Romantic Women's fiction / New Adult series, Caught Up in Love, is currently on submission at the Big 5, with Plan B to go indie in style. Rep'd by April Eberhardt Literary.

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  • Shehanne Moore

    Liz, thank you. Bottom of my seriously giving up heart'n all. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  • Karen A Szklany Writing

    Thank you for sharing your perspective. Enjoyed reading this reminder to remain authentic in my writing so that it is more about the art than the sales while I am involved in the creation process.

  • Helen Haught Fanick

    Thanks for reminding me of the traits I have but need to concentrate on to forge ahead in my writing. Good post!

  • Kathryn Meyer Griffith

    I'm a prime example of "never give up". I've been writing over 44 years and published since 1984. I've been here to see the evolving publishing industry from gatekeeper legacy publishing to self-publishing (which I now do and am thrilled with it). I've been through the agents, editors and publishers hell and am still here; still writing and publishing. It hasn't been easy. The publishing changes I've seen and adapted to have been huge. I have just started a blog https://kathrynmeyergriffith.wordpress.com/

    (yes, finally...been too busy writing my 23 books until now and Wordpress makes it so easy) and am starting out talking about just this very subject...and I will blog more on it as time goes by. It takes a lot to be a writer. You sacrifice your precious time, your life, friends and sometimes family, to sit at that typewriter/computer every day, year after year making up stories. You have to have a calling, a passion, for it. I am so proud I never let the agents, editors or publishers dishearten me along my long journey. I am an author and proud of it!

  • Liz Gelb-O\'Connor

    Lois, Shehanne, Thanks for the kind words, Ladies :-)

  • Lois Elizabeth Letchford

    Yes, this is a wonderful post! Thank you for your inspirational writing!

  • Shehanne Moore

    What a wonderful post. You know I have said all these things myself to other author's on the verge of throwing in the towel but yesterday when I agreed to beta read this piece of work I can only politely describe as crap, and I saw this author had published another very similar piece of work to five star reviews, I thought....I give up. If that is what the market wants I cannot be in this market. But you have reminded me  of why I will keep on standing in it, occupying my space with that same passion I have always had.

  • Liz Gelb-O\'Connor

    Thanks, Michelle! So glad I made the TBR :-)

  • Michelle Cox

    Thanks, Liz!  Three great insights into this strange world of publishing.  Still trying to find my way, so it's nice to hear veterans give advice.  Your books are on my TBR list!!!!

  • Liz Gelb-O\'Connor

    Ladies, Thanks for all of your wonderful comments and kind words! I'm glad that I could provide a little inspiration :-)

  • Laura Landgraf

    I've both listened to, and met Bob Mayer. How wonderful for you to have spent a weekend in a writers retreat both with him, and that lovely setting.

  • Zetta Brown

    You rock, Liz!

    Those three points are "on point" too because in this business we have to keep our heads, if not our hearts, in check and keep going.

  • Lois Heise

    Thank you for the much needed inspiration. It renews my commitment to keep going and reach out for support more than I do.

  • Kelly Kittel

    Onward. Indeed!

  • Patricia Robertson

    Resilience, passion and networks! That I have so I guess I can hang in there in this dysfunctional industry. Great post.

  • RYCJ Revising

    Great outlook and another on point post. It's funny in an ironic way when I hear people say, or ask 'how I keep at it' when for me it's like, 'what else would I do?' Really? Of course too, it can be an extra bonus to earn money from a passion, to which I added 'can be'... because like mentioned, it is easy to lose sight of the moral to this post when money, numbers, and plenty of egos move in.)

    When topics like this come up, my thought always revert to, "What Else Would I Do if I Decided to Give Up?' Go back to a 9-to-5 to watch a clock so I can buy drapes every spring and watch my favorite cooking shows on 75" movie screens I swap out with each pay raise?

  • Love this post. Passion, resilience and a healthy competitive spirit do keep us all going. Not to mention the She Writes community!

  • Lene Fogelberg Writing

    Great post! Resilience and passion are truly absolutes in this business. I love what you write about the networking and feel so blessed to be part of She Writes/She Writes Press, which has offered fantastic opportunities to both give support and receive support!