Are you an author?
Being an author is all about the attitude. Not ego. That's a different thing.
I'm talking about the mindset common to most members of the publishing community. Authors sacrifice for the opportunity to get a few hundred more words on the page, whether it's time with family or sleep. They wander around forever plotting stories, mumbling ideas, jotting plot points on scraps of paper. They're often heard scolding themselves for spending too much time on Facebook when stories need writing, characters need developing, sub-plots need grooming.
Is that you? Then you're an author.
Are you a career author?
Career authors build on the foundation they started as a writer. Study of the craft doesn't stop when they get that first contract. They see the inaugural book as the beginning of the journey, not the end. They invest in their continued education as a writer, pushing themselves to do more than simply create stories. They want to create addicts!
These authors are easy to spot. Their fifth book is always better than their first and their tenth is better than their fifth. They may only publish one book a year, but it's a book their fans gladly spend a year waiting for, digging for other things to read to help them pass the time, dancing in place when the pre-order announcement comes out.
Two of the best examples of career authors are JK Rowling and Nora Roberts. Mastering one genre isn't enough. They have other stories, other voices, other challenges to explore. They aren't afraid to put aside a well-known pseudonym and create a new one in a different genre, an unknown voice, working to win readers all over again.
For career authors it's all about the challenge of perfecting the craft, getting the words just right. They create the addiction that inspires readers to lose sleep, miss their bus stop, postpone chores because they can't put the book down. Don't even suggest they skip pages to get to the end sooner. They don't want to miss a single word, victims of the 'one more chapter' intoxication.
Does it matter?
Does that make career authors more worthy of the title of author? I don't think so. There are dozens of reasons to get into publishing. Some people have twenty-year goals and see themselves signing autographs at a new release party when they're ninety. Some have far less ambitious dreams, thrilled to see their name in print whether it sells a hundred copies or a thousand. Some want to be on the NYT best seller list. Some live simply for the rush of positive reviews. That's the great part about this line of work. You set your own goals, mold your own dreams. You can make your career whatever you want it to be.
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