Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Insane Author Habits

I recently read an article a highly successful author wrote about habits that she and her friends had when it  came to their craft.

I read it, exhaled a sigh of relief, and immediately felt better about myself.

Why? Because I was guilty of every single thing on that list and I thought I was the only one! I think it's important for readers to understand how insane and vulnerable we can be as authors. So I decided to compile my own list of habits.

So here it is
 Annoying Habits of Authors!

1. Amazon Stalking: We've all done it, shoot I still do it and I hate myself for it every time I do. That silly little Amazon ranking. Regardless of how successful we may or may not be, it always takes self control of gigantic proportions not to check your Amazon ranking. Depending on where you are, it can make or break your day. The problem is that authors often allow the ranking to decide if they are successful, well liked, and making the right career choice.

It's hard not to let it define you, that little number. And it often gives false hope. Most people don't know that the Amazon ranking changes not necessarily on how many books you sell but how your book is doing compared to other books. One day you may sell ten books and only move a few spots, whereas the next day you sell one book but it's one more book than others in your genre skyrocketing you closer to your chosen number.

2. Worry that you've lost it and when I say lost it, I mean, you're worried that the last book you wrote was the best you had to offer and everything is going to fail in comparison. What if you don't have any more ideas? What if your manuscript sucks and your publisher rejects it? 

It doesn't matter how many people buy your books, whenever a new book is submitted for publishing, you still experience that same mind numbing panic of, "Am I good enough?"
It's like the kid constantly living for approval from their parents. As Authors, all we need is for the publisher or editor for that matter to gush about how good your newest book is and you feel instnatly better.
Sadly, this isn't always the case, and its not for reasons that we insecure authors think of. "Oh my gosh they hate it!" No, it's just because most publishers and editors don't have time to pat your hand and offer you happy words. 
They just don't.
And this is where your own confidence has to take a leap of faith. They wouldn't publish you if they didn't think it would sell. And that has to be enough.

3. Bad Reviews. We've all had them. I've decided that bad reviews go hand in hand with your Amazon ranking. The higher your ranking, the higher your chances are of getting bad reviews.
I hate bad reviews.
The first bad review I had for one of my regencies made me cry, and I don't mean a pretty type of crying either, NO. It was the type that my husband had to go to the store and buy me endless amounts of chocolate until I felt better.
As a reader, I appreciate bad reviews. It helps me decide whether or not to purchase a book, but as an author, we a lot of times believe there isn't anything bad about our book! At least I hope you believe that about your own work!
So what do authors typically do with bad reviews? Well, after the initial shock, because lets be honest there are a lot of people out there who write bad reviews with hateful things and nothing constructive about them, we stop crying and move on.
When writing one of my sequels I went and looked at all my bad reviews and all my good reviews. I kept in the things that people liked, and then I tried to take the criticism I received and make the second book better.
I remember one reviewer who said the book was "okay," and that she was intrigued enough to buy the next one and then loved it. So in my mind, my mission was accomplished.
You aren't always going to please everyone. It's impossible to do so. You may write the best book in the world and someone may still say it's something a high schooler could have written.
The point is to keep your head high, use criticism constructively, and move on. 
But readers, beware. When you are writing bad reviews, know that you have the power to make or break a very vulnerable author, it's okay if you hate a book, but be sure to include ways the author could have improved. Trust me, it helps lessen the blow.

Superstitions....So this one is pretty self explanatory. It can be anything from your "Writing Pants," to what pandora station you listen to while writing a certain novel.
I'm going to go ahead and admit that I actually have only certain pandora stations I'll listen to while writing specific scenes because I'm convinced it messes with the story if I deter.

I know other authors who have to have their desks facing a certain way....A cup of coffee in hand, etc.
Others may actually only start writing at a certain time of day...It truly just depends on what works for you. I've noticed that as I start writing more, I have become crazier. if that's even possible.

I have to have coffee if I write in the morning. I also have to have music on and can't be eating because for some reason it bothers me to write and eat at the same time.

So, authors who are reading this, do you agree? What are some of your funny quirks?

And readers, have you ever had an author respond poorly to some of your feedback?


Sharon Hamilton said...

Rachel, I so relate to this post. I am also guilty of all these, and more (you probably are saving a few gems for another post).

We all question ourselves, when the thing we should be doing is connecting with what IS working. But tell that to an author who has read one of those bad reviews. I recently had a editor who said she wasn't available anymore (because she got an actual job). And I took it personally! LOL. Like, well, if my words were so great, she wouldn't quit.

But no, I made that up. Like Mark Twain said, "I've experienced many tragedies, some of which are true." (I paraphrased).

The writing window-the scaffolding is covering my window today and I'm hearing drilling. We're putting metal siding on our house, recycled from the fire a couple years ago, and it looks awesome, but the view is horrible. I'm one to also listen to the SPA channel on Sirius, or Watercolors. And I have 20 days music on my laptop so I can play the same favorites for the scenes.

All about getting me and keeping me in the mood, excited to write, until the writing takes over and then no one can stop me!

Thanks for this post.

Marsha A. Moore said...

Bad reviews always seem to hit me when I'm already down. I got my first less than ideal, but not exactly bad review of my latest book the morning after Mom died. I let it eat me alive for too long,since I was already unable to think clearly. Once my mind settled some, I did some research and found that was the reviewer's second review ever--gave me a different perspective for sure. Everyone is human, and we all must learn along the way.

Danielle Ravencraft said...

Rachel, what a great post! And I am guilty of every item on your list, LOL. I still check my Amazon rating and wish like hell that it would go UP instead of DOWN, but I'm learning not to beat myself up over it because I'm still making decent sales - just most of those sales are at other venues for whatever crazy reason.

Bad reviews...Okay, I don't mean to brag here, but I haven't gotten any terrible reviews (YET, I know there will be one eventually) - but I have gotten the "Eh, it was just okay" ones. To me that means my writing is average, which is better than bad. I don't know, I'm an optimistic person 95% of the time, so it would have to be a really hateful review in order to phase

Rachel Van Dyken said...

I'm so glad you guys relate to this post!!! I was laughing as I wrote it and also reprimanding myself....I just happened to get another bad review on one of my earlier books.
Talk about perfect timing!!!
It's hard not to let what other say define you, but then again, you need a tough shell to be in this industry....Love you gals ;)

Kay Dee Royal said...

Oh, my gosh...Rachel, yes on all counts *LOL* I haven't had that many reviews, only just have been experiencing a few from the book tour I just did...and yes, it's a scary feeling opening up that site...peeking through the cracks between my fingers as my hands cover my eyes.

My funny quirks are ever-changing...sort of like my diet:)