Top 10 Assumptions People Make About Writers

1. We’re lazy

When I’m not getting up at 6am to get showered and dressed so I can start work at 7, I’m busy learning more about marketing, researching topics for my next set of articles, editing work, submitting work for review, working on a new novel or non-fiction book, and emailing clients and contacts. Occasionally I have a quick toilet break. I wish I had time to be lazy.

RSI is a real possibility

RSI is a real possibility

2. We sit in front of a computer all day

As anyone who works in an office will tell you, not only does this give you a bad back, but it also screws up your eyes. I’ve only got one eye myself, so was extremely disgruntled to learn last year that I now have to wear glasses at the computer and remember to take mini breaks to rest my eye. When I’m not in front of the computer, I’m researching or responding to emails or actually talking to someone real!

3. We work when we want

You only get to do this if you’re a million plus copies best-selling author. Even then, you have deadlines to hit. I have to be extremely disciplined in my daily routine in order to get my work done. We might work slightly different (often longer) hours, but generally we do daytime hours just like everyone else.

4. We’re anti-social

I’ve met many introverted writers like myself, but full on anti-social? Not really. If you get stuck in a room full of writers, you’ll probably struggle to get a word in edgeways. We like to talk to people. A lot. This is mostly due to the fact that we do spend more time working alone than most people.

5. We eat a lot of biscuits

Not really. There’s never any left in the tin and we’re usually too busy working to go and stock up.

6. We earn lots of money

Research collected by the The Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society in 2013 showed that the median income for professional authors came to just £10,432 in the UK. For those of you who can do the math, that’s below the minimum wage and on the poverty line. That is beginning to change thanks to the advent of independent publishing where you can earn a lot more if you’re willing to learn about publishing and set yourself up properly. The big success stories you hear about in the traditional publishing realm (e.g. J K Rowling, Ian McEwan, Stephen King) account for only the top 5% of the entire industry. And it should be remembered that it took them years to get to the levels of income they now achieve. You don’t become a writer to get rich quick.

7. Writing is the easiest job in the world

See above. In addition to the financial challenges we face, we have to be immensely disciplined, excellent at time management, and good with people in order to be successful.

8. Publishers respect us equally

Some publishers treat the authors they sign, very well. Others not so much. In the past 5 years, author advances (the money you’re offered at the start and that has to be made back in sales before you receive any commission from your books) have grown less and less. There are still many wonderful publishing houses out there, but the general author population is not treated equally. The obsession with celebrity books hasn’t helped, which is why many are turning more and more to independent publishing.

9. We’re all in competition all the time

There’s a word that’s been around for some time now; co-opetition. Writers like to read (which is why we like to write) and share stories. How can we do this if we’re constantly trying to beat our friends to the next big thing? We’re competitive, but we also love to help each other out as much as possible. The Alliance of Independent Authors have highlighted this fact, and the advent of Kindle, Kobo, the Barnes and Noble platform, Smash Words, Apple iBooks and more, show that authors and writers love working together.  Done correctly, we can earn more than we would through the traditional publishing route. I love working with other writers where possible, and many people co-author books. You only have to look at the film, television and theatre industries to know that writing is not always a lone working profession.

Indy Author Fair 2015

Very cool writers and authors – working together

10. We prefer to work alone

Read point 9 again.
We are not hermits. Whilst we do need more time to retreat to our desks to write our stories and books, we also like working around other people. I cannot work from home or a lone office all the time. I often work in the library (quiet, but has people) and from mobile offices (which you can get free trials and offers on).


Next week…

I’ll be talking about managing your finances when you change career and providing details about my new book on Career Change.

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