Do You Want to Be a Famous Author?

by Jami Gold on May 7, 2013

in Random Musings

Spotlight with text: Do You Want to Be Famous?

Every once in a while, I come across an article about figuring out our goals as an author. Heck, I’ve written posts along those lines. As we learn more about the industry and grow as authors, our goals might change, so it’s smart to revisit the question occasionally.

But there’s a Step Two to that self-analyzing process that we don’t talk about as often: Will the path we’re on lead to those goals?

If our goal is to see our book on a bookshelf, we need different criteria for the “is this a good publisher” question than if our priority is top-notch editing. If our goal is to build up a backlist quickly, we can research whether certain publishing paths would slow us down too much.

Lately, I’ve been questioning my own goals and path because the publishing industry is changing so quickly. Things that weren’t possible months ago are now easy. As a result, I’m tempted to mentally bulldoze my plans and start from scratch based on this new publishing world.

Question Everything

When we question everything, situations might not look the way we thought. Back when I first started pursuing a writing career in 2008, there was only one path (self-publishing was still something that “real” authors didn’t do). Likewise, there was—for the most part (especially in the U.S.)—only one dream:

Authors dreamed of becoming a bestselling author
and being interviewed on Oprah.

But just as the Oprah show is not the same anymore, so too is the publishing industry a shadow of its former self.

Before, no one dreamed of becoming a mid-list author because most of them were lucky if they made enough money to pay a few bills. Making enough to quit the day job? That required bestseller status.

Thanks to industry changes, more authors than ever before are making enough money, even as mid-listers. Neither Oprah or the Big however-many-traditional-publishers-are-left-this-week are gatekeepers to success anymore.

How Do You Define Success?

All those different paths mean that we have to decide what success means to us. Is it the book in a bookstore? Number of readers? Income? Reviews? Buzz? Name recognition?

There’s a big gap between the goals of “wanting to touch someone with our writing” and “being famous.” Both goals are legitimate, but the path that will lead to one goal will be different from the paths toward other goals.

So we have to know our goal and we have to identify the path that will take us there. However, nailing down such specific goals and paths can be difficult.

Do You Know What You Want—and What You Don’t?

Sometimes it’s easier to define what we don’t want than what we do. I know I don’t want to be famous. Never have.

I stated as much a year ago when all the E.L. James and Fifty Shades of Grey hoopla hit my blog. Some of her supporters accused me of bringing up the serious ethical issues in the situation simply because I was jealous of her success. When I pointed out that ethical concerns and jealousy weren’t related in my case because I had no desire to be famous, they assumed I must be lying.

But the honest-to-God truth is that I’m much too private of a person to want to be famous. I’m not only introverted, but can also be horribly self-conscious. Kristen Lamb and the WANA crowd at last year’s RWA conference can vouch for the fact that I’m not comfortable as the center of attention. Being famous would be a nightmare for me.

Will Your Path Lead to Your Goals?

The question of whether my path and my goals match hit home when I saw an article about how some fans of the Sookie Stackhouse books are reacting to author Charlaine Harris’s announcement to end the series (the basis of the True Blood TV show). My jaw literally dropped in horror.

This 61-year-old grandmother is now the subject of online taunts and threats from fans that they’ll commit suicide. For the first time in years, she’s not doing a book tour because she feels the need to avoid her “fans.” She’s even received death threats. Yikes!

That article resonated with scattered thoughts in my head. Like, maybe the default dream that used to apply to virtually every author—the bestselling, Oprah interviewee—never applied me at all. And I’ve been wondering if I’m on the right path for my goals.

Am I tempted to change because of a fear of success? (“I don’t want to be famous.”) A fear of failure? (“I’m sick of querying.”) Or because of a legitimate acknowledgement of the changes in the industry? (“We’re not stuck to a single path anymore.”)

I don’t know. I’m at a loss for how to tell if these feelings are an attack of the all-too-common writer self-doubts or a logical and reasoned question about whether my path really matches my goals. Yes, I’m probably over-thinking this, but uncertainty about decisions drives me crazy. *smile*

Do you want to be a famous author? Do you know what your goals are? Are you on the right path for those goals? How do you know? Do you ever struggle with decisions like this? Any advice for me? *grin*

 

Pin It
70 Comments below - Time to Add your own.

Shannon O'Brien May 7, 2013 at 7:02 am

Great article – had no idea about the issues Harris has had (her FB posts had seemed a bit harried over the past year). All in all, Jami, you just need to ask yourself, “Do I enjoy writing?” if the answer is “Yes” then you can disregard the other questions. Personally, I’d love to have fame and money but my mom always warned me to be careful what I wished for ;)

Reply

Taurean Watkins May 7, 2013 at 9:12 am

Shanon, I hear you, but you can STILL want to be published and still have integrity for your writing process. You’re right that we don’t have to make money for all our passions, but piratical pinning aside, some of us want write and publish SOME of that writing, even if we enjoy the process alone. You CAN WANT BOTH and be no less sincere.

Just playing Devil’s advocate here. It doesn’t have to be either or, and as such, those other questions DO matter, your personal answer just may be different than the common ones.

Like Maryanne said below-

“For me, it’s not about being famous, but being recognized. I want to be known for writing well, and I want my books to earn enough money that I don’t HAVE to do other work (unless I want to). But at a minimum, I want one book published in my life.”

That said, I’d like to publish MORE than one book in my lifetime, as my goal is to make being an author ONE of my careers. I have other skills I can learn to make money with, but writing has to be ONE of those careers, I can’t resign to being in a corporate job just to make ends neat, not everyone can thrive personally in corporate jobs anymore than not everyone is cut out to work in the military.

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 10:04 am

Hi Shannon,

I don’t follow Charlaine on FB, so I hadn’t seen an inkling of this problem until reading the article.

Thanks for the question getting to the heart of the matter. :) Yes, I love writing and can’t imagine even being able to give it up, so I have no plans to do that. LOL! It’s more a realization of the parts of the publishing process that I don’t love and asking how much of that I just have to put up with and how much I can avoid with a different approach. :) Thanks for the comment!

Reply

Maryanne Fantalis May 7, 2013 at 7:46 am

For me, it’s not about being famous, but being recognized. I want to be known for writing well, and I want my books to earn enough money that I don’t HAVE to do other work (unless I want to). But at a minimum, I want one book published in my life. I want that validation and acknowledgement. I want the thrill of seeing a book of mine on a shelf in a bookstore, and being able to hold it in my hands. Am I on the right path? I don’t think I’ll know until I get there. *wry smile*

I think you are right to reevaluate your goals as you go along — both because the industry is changing and because YOU are changing. You’re not the same person you were in 2008, and you’re not the same writer you were in 2008.

(P.S. I think the “freedom” of the internet has turned fan culture into something twisted.)

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 10:14 am

Hi Maryanne,

Hmm, famous vs. recognized. Interesting distinction, and I can understand that. I’d like to be known for writing well-crafted stories with unique premises, cool characters, and page-turning plots. I suppose being “recognized” is another way of saying “being known for” in that respect.

And don’t get me wrong–I’d like the money (in fact, my family needs the money)–but that can’t be one of my goals because I know myself too well. LOL! I know I’d put too much pressure on myself and feel like a failure if I didn’t make X amount of money. Instead, I need to focus on things I can control. :)

Ooo, seeing your list is helping me figure out more of those “what I don’t need” items too. :) Like “validation.” I used to think I wanted that, but that’s become less important to me lately. I’m not sure if that’s a mood thing (that will change again next month–LOL!) or a permanent change in attitude.

As you said, maybe I won’t know if what I reach is enough until I get there. :) Thanks for the comment and support!

Reply

Widdershins May 7, 2013 at 1:19 pm

My thoughts on your P.S.

I agree with you entirely. It’s like ‘mob-mentailty’ on a global scale.

I reckon the instant-ness of social media is also part of the issue.

Way back before the interwebz, if some awestruck reader wanted to let her favourite author know how much their story moved her, she had to sit down and write a letter, by hand, because at that time she didn’t own a typewriter. Rewrite it a couple of times, because she made some mistakes or typos, and it just wasn’t couth to use dollops of liquid paper (tip-ex) on expensive handcrafted notepaper. Depending on where she lived, it might take several weeks for the letter to arrive at the author’s pick-up point – usually their publisher or agent, then she would wait for any number of months for a reply, if one came at all.

Plenty of time for reflection.

I’m not knocking the immediateness, per se, of social media. It has changed so many lives for the better, but it also enables that part of us ‘oomins that are are reactive, rather than responsive.

I’m not sure what the solution is, if there even is one, but perhaps we can look on this social media age as being an exasperating, sometimes annoying, self-absorbed, occasionally inspiring, brilliant teenager.

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 1:37 pm

Hi Widdershins (and Maryanne),

The article actually points out that a similar reaction happened when Sir Arthur Conan Doyle tried killing off Sherlock Holmes–long before the internet or social media. The anonymity of mobs is the same in person or online. (Online might make it easier to be anonymous, but “mob mentality” started strictly as a real-life phenomenon.)

I’d say that partly this goes along with the medium. The written word allows us to infect others’ thoughts with our words in a more subtle way than public speech (TV, movies, etc.). The characters in well-written books can feel like they take up residence in our heads. That’s the same impetus behind many fan fiction works–people take the version of the characters that’s in their heads and breath new ideas into them.

The side effect of that is that some readers feel like they own the characters and the stories. “They were in my head, therefore they belong to me.” And thus we get fanfic authors thinking they can publish their stories with characters they stole from the original author, and we have these intense feelings of betrayal from readers. Like if someone threatened to kill one of our friends.

On some level, I can understand them being upset, but the extreme reactions have been out of hand. I agree that offline interactions provide more opportunities for reflection, but that alone wouldn’t prevent this reaction. I don’t know what would, to be honest. Thanks for the comment!

Reply

Taurean Watkins May 7, 2013 at 8:42 am

Jami, if it helps at all, I don’t think you’re alone in not wanting to cross certain lines in notoriety.

That said you’re probably in a better position because your audience are primarily adult readers, with teens here and there, and fellow adults tend to get why they prefer not to be public about certain but for those of us who write for children and teens under 16, like myself, you have to work through this fear. Kids or teens can’t trust in authors who can’t open themselves a little to their own fears and opinions.

Ellen Hopkins or John Green wouldn’t have the readers they do if they kept themselves too close to their proverbial vests. I may not be able to write about the topics and scenarios they do, but I respect that have both the courage and ability to pull it off.

Also, keep in mind that at the very least, what you do for yourself in terms of “Getting out there” is key. At least you can say you have your POV out there.

That’s one of the advantages in creating our platforms now. No matter how other media outlets spin us, our honest and direct opinions will be out there for anyone to read and make up their own minds.

BUT, I have to disagree with you on one point. You said-

“When we question everything, situations might not look the way we thought. Back when I first started pursuing a writing career in 2008, there was only one path (self-publishing was still something that “real” authors didn’t do). Likewise, there was—for the most part (especially in the U.S.)—only one dream: Authors dreamed of becoming a bestselling author and being interviewed on Oprah.”

There are still people who just can’t afford to self-publish, and like you, if I can’t attain quality akin to traditional publishers, it doesn’t help the goals for the author I want to be, so those changes opened doors for some authors, but not all who are having a hard time either route.

I can’t bring myself to embrace the “Perfect Enough” answer you gave in reply to you post about patronizing “Fast, Cheap and Good” because I can’t see it that way. Just because some readers like you or Serena can overlook certain errors for the sake of storytelling, it doesn’t agents or editors will be less lenient, and trust me, if you’ve EVER been to AW’s forums, you’ll meet many a reader who has those high standards for the writing, AS MUCH AS THEY WANT A GREAT STORY. PERIOD.

(I say that not in anger, but as friendly advice because I learned this lesson the hard way, and I want you and Serena to have books to be proud of so much I’d hate to see you shot down because your personal beliefs blinded you to not settling for quality less than what you’re capable of, especially if you decide to self-publish as Serena does, and unlike you, Serena, I need to market and query, and you still need those blurbs even if you self-publish, so unless you know a blurb writer in the business who will help you out, I personally can’t escape the blurb, either way, but that’s me…)

That said, I heard recently how Dr. Seuss didn’t like doing public events since he feared kids would be disappointed if they knew the person he really was behind his books, and we certainly see instances like that, but it can be the other way, too.

There are plenty of authors who may not have the best public demeanor, but it doesn’t distract from how well they write their books, but I think unless you’re a comedian or being outspoken is part of your brand, that attitude works against you rather than for you, if not in business, in life outside it.

I’m shy, but I don’t think in the ways you are, when I’m comfortable with people, it’s easier to start a conversation, but given my temper, it’s not easy to keep it going in a friction-free manner.

Too many authors are still stuck in the old ways of the business in that depict the author being the dutiful servant to their publisher, and I mean that in a broad context, okay?
Take our correspondence on your blog for instance. I didn’t get as comfortable with commenting here until I realized that you DO get the emotions involved, even though in some respects you’re more pragmatic about the process than I am.

To me, though, any good partnership is NOT a dictatorship. Not a marriage or a business, and money though important to both, are NOT the only criteria for both, but especially the former.

It’s also why I really don’t like equating business with marriage, because there are things you do in your marriage you wouldn’t in your business
Cultural differences aside, I don’t believe people at heart marry SOLELY for money, the only reasons people do is because of how narrow and twisted societal bigotry can be, as much as people lament over high divorce rates, no one should stay married to someone who is abusing you or children (if they are any) just to “Save face.”

It’s also not just women this happens to. Men face it too, and not to sound twisted, but I wish more books were on
For the same reason certain male stereotypes persist in our culture,

Since we always hear how less likely boys and men open up about “less masculine” emotions and thoughts, having few role models in both fiction and nonfiction don’t help the problem, either.

Girls and women have FAR more examples of the wide range of the human experience, many far ahead of their time historically. It’s why Jo March, Maya Angelou, and Pippi Longstocking have endured so long past their original pub. dates. Whether real or fictional, they all gave girls and women hope to continue to fight for their rights, but I feel that along the way, we starting over-demonizing boys and men, and seeing them as only one way.

Men are either flaky or responsible. Working or not working, if that work is raising children rather than slaving at an office somewhere, something we respect women for, but not always men.

Men are constantly demonized as not being “There” but yet we over-highlight the “dangers” of them being there less than when they’re absent. With all the talk about absent fathers, I sometimes wonder-

“What’s the greater evil here?”

Staying and risk doing harm to spouse and children. Or leaving because you don’t want to risk violent episodes. I’m not saying some fathers leave because they sadly don’t care, but should we overly punish those who left not because they didn’t care, but because they didn’t want to risk entering that deadly point of no return.

Kids may be hurt either way when one or both parents are absent. But at least in the case of absentees, they didn’t stay long enough to traumatize in the horrid ways we hear about on the news night after night. I think knowing yourself enough to do that is JUST as brave as those parents, particularly fathers, who do stay and avoid the worst case scenarios.

You can’t have this both ways and expect equality, however broad or specific you define it. Period. If women want equality in pay and respect to men, they also need to let the men in their lives be who they are, without always putting a political spin on it. We don’t expect women at large (At least in SOME parts of the world) to be nothing more than upaid skivvies and sex slaves, so why can’t we look at manhood as more than one way? WHY??!

We don’t have enough male role models to reflect the changing views and opinions to combat the stereotypes that while may still exist in some areas, we’re STILL alienating those who don’t fit in those boxes and never want to. Period.

I don’t fit with the arcane views of masculinity (But I guess I’m an exception to the rule…)
But I don’t consider myself a spineless wimp either.

In general, though, that in part goes back to my more heated issues on certain writer forums where people are so business-minded they are often insensitive to the emotions involved.

For what it’s worth, I believed you when you said you weren’t getting outraged about FSG because you were jealous, it’s no different than we people compare me to “Classics” among animal fantasy, like there’s NO OTHER WAY to do it but how those authors did it. But you know that, so I’ll not elaborate further…LOL

As far as the whole Sookie uproar, I think it’s just a classic example of fans being needlessly cruel despite their passion for books.

I remember for another series she did YEARS before Sookie, Charlene said she STILL gets complaints about a certain character death that they didn’t want to see die. I don’t read paranormal, but I don’t have the snotty apathy toward it, either.

For the record, Jami, if I ever seemed spiteful about paranormal, believe me it’s not my intention, I just want to know at times readers want something BESIDES paranormal, for my own reasons, you know?

Sometimes it can feel like the world at large wants this one type of book, and you can’t/ don’t want to write it, but no one of a certain age (Or gender…) wants what you do want to write and are actually ABLE to write.

Sorry for getting a bit off topic, my inner (Male) Barbra Walters came out again…

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Hi Taurean,

“those changes opened doors for some authors, but not all who are having a hard time either route.”

You’re absolutely right. Some of us won’t change our approach–regardless of the changes in the overall industry–because the industry changes don’t affect the path we need to be on for our goals. I wasn’t trying to say that everyone needs to change. :) Just that because of the changes to the industry–and to ourselves as we grow–that it’s good to make sure the goals we started with are still relevant and what we still want.

And don’t worry, I didn’t take your advice about “perfect enough” the wrong way. :) Believe me, I’m a true perfectionist. But the bad side of that is that if I wait for something to be the-impossible-level-of-perfect, I’ll never move forward.

In other words, when I speak of settling for “perfect enough,” I’m referring to making something the most perfect I can (with the help of others) and realizing that it still won’t be perfect-perfect because that doesn’t exist. If I held out for perfect-perfect, I’d never even be able to publish my blog posts. :) So this is more of me knowing myself well enough to know that I could very easily use the goal of perfect-perfect to prevent me from ever moving forward and doing anything. And that’s what I don’t want. It certainly doesn’t mean that I’ll accept less than what I’m capable of.

That advice might not work for others because they would settle for less than their potential. It all depends on our own internal sense of perfectionism and knowing what might hold us back. And you’re right as well about how even self-published authors need the query-like blurbs, so there’s no escaping from many aspects of the industry, no matter our path. :)

“I feel that along the way, we starting over-demonizing boys and men, and seeing them as only one way.”

I agree with you here too. For a long time, I thought (hoped?) romance authors were immune to this. After all, if we’re writing great heroes, we must think men are pretty great, right?

But FSofG is just one example of many stories that people think of as being romantic that I think glamorize unhealthy behaviors and relationships. And I’ve seen many bestselling romance authors on Twitter sound bitter and hateful to men. I don’t get it.

Whether we’re talking about kids bullying on a playground or male/female relationships, building one group up by belittling or demonizing another group is not healthy. Maybe the fact I don’t try to pigeonhole men this way is why I don’t write only the stereotypical alpha male. :) Thanks for the comment!

Reply

Taurean Watkins May 7, 2013 at 2:32 pm

Thanks for replying back, Jami. I may not write romance, but I do read it, and ANY book, but especially in that genre, where the men are as well rounded and diverse as the women are special to me for that reason alone. That’s probably one of the rare few areas where I’d forgive less than stellar writing because not all the men are “Evil.” That’s my weakness. (LOL!)

Sorry for being a bit far reaching in my reply, though. I just saw that through-line, especially given the romance angle and this is one of those topics I wouldn’t dicuss on my blog, given that I do want kids to feel welcome there, so I try to not go too far beyond a “soft” PG-13, you know?

Another reason I need my author site separate so I can more freely talk about certain things

I don’t read , but I know her from interviews she’s done and I know how popular her series is, and I’ve seen a little of True Blood, but not beyond the first season, and what I saw was good, but it’s one of those shows you need to be in the mood for to get the most out of it. At least, for me. I can feel for her as a fellow author for how crazy spiteful some of her readers are. I don’t feel comfortable calling them “Fans.” They may eugenically love her books, but treating her like a criminal for ending the series is WAY over the line.

Real fans don’t make threats like the ones you’ve described. Even some of the “Haters” of a particular author don’t take it this far, at least from the writers and readers I’ve known.

As much as I may not like certain author’s books, it’s NEVER been to the point of wishing them dead for real. Seriously Jami. I mean, no one who really loved HP wanted it to end, but it did, and no matter how many times readers asked as we neared Deathly Hollows JKR never wavered in saying after that point, she was done.
(Haven’t got to it yet, so NO spoilers, please)

Whatever you thought of The Casual Vacancy, it took courage on JK’s to write on, knowing that phenomenon probably wouldn’t occur again, but is grateful to it, and I think the fact she put out a new book outside HP’s world is tangible proof that she’s not going to stop writing, and proves she is a true writer, even with the wealth she’s aquired, if you’re still doing something

I think people who question that are jealous that she’s taking care of her finances and still doing what she loves, her family and her writing, even if they’re not jealous of her specifically, it’s that she found a way to do both, whereas so many people I know choose one or the other, and even those who chose their families over their writing, and don’t regret it, they still miss it.

I may not be a parent, but I have to make tough choices, and it’s caused me problems in my family, but while I may have handled certain situations wrong, I can’t apologize for the feelings behind it, only that I didn’t handle it in a more respectful way.

On the other hand, Ann Brashares did write a follow-up to her “Sisterhood of Traveling Pants,” and while I haven’t read the whole series, I’ve read enough to know why readers who started in order with one new book every number of years, would be the age or close to age the characters in the follow up are now. But some series are more easily revisited than others.

I didn’t read the article you mentioned, but given how you described the reaction of her readers, and these were

I’d heard online the next book was the last, and I feel bad she has to cut her appearances because the ending of a series, especially one THIS well received in general is special as much as bittersweet. But this is both the beauty and bummer of writing a non-open ended series. Beauty because you can avoid overstaying your welcome, and if it wasn’t a little sad (However business like to see the writing process) it meant the story wasn’t doing it’s job. I’m planning on write two or three more books following a group of characters, and I know where I’ll stop, I’ll still write about that world, just from other characters in that world, that’s how Narnia works, right?

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 3:39 pm

Hi Taurean,

“Whatever you thought of The Casual Vacancy, it took courage on JK’s to write on”

So true! She didn’t let expectations fence her in, and I admire her for that. I’d much rather quit while I was ahead in a series too.

I think in this case with Charlaine, part of the problem was that it was structured as an open-ended series. Meaning that although she knew how she’d end it down the line, there was no set “this is how many books it will take to get there” arc. When she decided she was done, she wrote the book for the ending she’d always imagined.

From the fans’ perspective, they were never given the JKR speech of “this is an X-number-of-books series,” so they’d never prepared for it to end. That doesn’t change any of the facts about some readers’ bad behavior, just pointing out the differences I see between the way the ending of the two series were received.

I have some series that are open-ended (yet I know how the big ending will happen), and some that are close-ended (I know exactly what each book of the series will do). There are pros and cons to each style. I’d never thought of this con for open-ended series before this article though. :(

Oh, and on a related note, the True Blood TV show is very different from the books. The plot lines are often different, the sex and violence are turned up for HBO, etc. I have to think of them as completely different stories. :) Thanks for the comment!

P.S. I’ve replied to your comments on last week’s posts too. I’m often offline over the weekend and need time to catch up. :)

Reply

Taurean Watkins May 8, 2013 at 9:07 am

Oh, I know the show’s different from the books, but there’s still overlap I’d think, and I’ve read some of one of the earlier books, and I’m sure there’s sex in the books, too, if not as “hyped up” like on the show.

That said, I’m wondering if that’s why Sherlilyn Kenyon’s Dark Hunter series has been in limbo as far as movies or even television’s concerned, you can’t dance around the lust in those books or you’ll make fans madder than Sookie fans who don’t want the series to end. (Hopefully they’ll be less homicidal, seriously!!)

This is a different series than Sookie, I know, but in the same paranormal sphere, and having read part of the first one, it’s clear the actors involved will need some serious experience with sex scenes…

I do still like paranormal fiction, but I got burnt out of it awhile back, it has to really get me emotionally before I’ll dive in, but really I got burnt out more than anything else.

I’m still kind of mad about HP 3, the movie version, because key scenes and plot reveals were left out or reworked, but I can’t hate because most key things story wise were in the spirit of the book, and as I’ve said to other bloggers, the Hermione decking Malfoy bit made up for most of it. Still, if not for watching the first two movies, I wouldn’t have read the books, and while now I’d prefer to read before watching any adaptations, I personally feel that barring exceptions, there’s merit to experiencing both.

Even still, I think what I said regarding that brutish behavior of Charlene’s more extremist readers was uncalled for stands up.

Thanks for replying, safe travels,
Taurean

Reply

Jami Gold May 8, 2013 at 9:56 am

Hi Taurean,

“the Hermione decking Malfoy bit made up for most of it.”

LOL! Yep, I know what you mean. HP#3 is probably my least favorite of the movies because it didn’t capture the flavor of the stories (in my opinion) as much as the others.

As for the Sookie books, yes, there is sex in them, but they’re written (in the books I’ve read at least–I haven’t read them all) in a very subtle way that would be labeled “mildly spicy.” They’re a far cry from the “very spicy”/”erotic” style of the show, so in some ways, the two are appealing to different audiences. I wonder if that diversity is a plus or minus when it comes to deciding which books make it to the screen. Interesting. :) Thanks for the comment!

Reply

Serena Yung May 8, 2013 at 9:48 pm

Oh my gosh, you mentioned me so many times in your comment XD I feel flattered. ^^

“I want you and Serena to have books to be proud of so much I’d hate to see you shot down because your personal beliefs blinded you to not settling for quality less than what you’re capable of, especially if you decide to self-publish as Serena does”

My problem is that I’m not very good at spotting flaws in the first place, so I never know when my novel is “good/ perfect enough”… And also, when I ask my friends for editing advice, they give such contradicting advice. Some say it’s too fast, some say it’s too slow, some say it’s just right =_= Argh!! So frustrating and confusing, lol.

“and unlike you, Serena, I need to market and query, and you still need those blurbs even if you self-publish, so unless you know a blurb writer in the business who will help you out, I personally can’t escape the blurb, either way, but that’s me…”

That’s true. Blurb writing is actually quite fun, by the way–uh, if you’re self-publishing and not aiming to market or self-promote—-i.e. if you’re really just aiming to please yourself by having a physical book in your hands :)

So I’m sorry. I feel like I’m not being very sympathetic because my goals are so much easier than everyone else’s :(

I agree with you on how our society tends to demonize and dehumanize males! It’s so horrible. :( Apart from the issues you mentioned above, I really hate it when they use stereotypes and exaggerated generalizations like: in romantic relationships, men are all about sex/ physical intimacy, and women are all about emotional intimacy. It’s quite sad and laughable that the society severely underestimates and ignores that men have emotional needs too, and that women definitely have more physical/ sexual needs than society seems to believe. XP I just don’t like how society thinks that men don’t have emotional vulnerabilities and desires for emotional closeness and interpersonal connection too, i.e. making them sound nonhuman. XP

Another stereotype that I hate is that “women are more emotional than men” or even “men have no emotions.” I mean, what kind of nonsense is that?? If we only glimpse at the male artists in history, we would easily be able to at least prove that the latter claim is completely false. As for women being “more emotional”, I think it’s more to do with how society pressurizes males to hide or suppress their emotions—just because we don’t see them expressed doesn’t mean they’re not there, boiling inside. Also, we can find many counterexamples to this claim in our real lives. For instance, my dad is clearly a much more emotional person than me and my mom. A close male friend of mine is also clearly more emotional than me. (Not to say that I have no emotions, lol. Just that I seem to be more emotionally stable and calm than the average person. I don’t really have mood swings, unlike the common stereotype of mood swinging girls :) )

In general, I also hate how some people like to believe that “Men are from Mars, women are from Venus”, i.e. they are completely different species. Sometimes I even think that this emerged social belief is a conspiracy to separate and mutually antagonize the two genders, lol. From my experience, I find that I have much more in common with my male friends than differences. I find that we’re more similar than different. It’s amazing how many things we do understand each other on, and how much we can empathize with each other, because we share the same experiences (e.g. being in the same school and studying the same subjects), and because we’re both human beings. When I first started to actually have male friends (I think I was too shy around the opposite gender before, haha), I was very pleasantly surprised that hey, we’re exactly the same in so many ways! :D So it’s not as alienating or frightening as I imagined! It’s pretty easy to interact with them because they’re just like any of my other friends–any of my other same-aged peers. :)

So I just think some people should learn that males and females are actually not that different from each other after all—we’re all homo sapiens. :)

Reply

Jami Gold May 9, 2013 at 8:37 am

Hi Serena,

I love when you talk psychology. LOL! You brought up some great points about the dehumanizing of males that I couldn’t help chime in on. :)

“…society severely underestimates and ignores that men have emotional needs too…”

So true, and this is yet another reason that I don’t (can’t?) write the stereotypical alpha males. My most-alpha hero is the member of the couple who recognizes his love and need for the heroine first. She admits her feelings much later. :)

Does that “need” make him weak? I don’t think so. His alpha-ness still makes him go after what he wants, so it’s not that he’s scared by the need or anything. He’s strong in his need, if that makes any sense. Personally, I’d find him less alpha if he was insecure about that need for emotional connection. :)

As you said, I don’t think the genders are nearly as different as some suggest. Then again, I’ve tested the masculinity/femininity of my brain and came out balanced between the two. LOL! Thanks for the comment!

Reply

Serena Yung May 9, 2013 at 1:43 pm

“So true, and this is yet another reason that I don’t (can’t?) write the stereotypical alpha males. My most-alpha hero is the member of the couple who recognizes his love and need for the heroine first. She admits her feelings much later. :)”

I like your hero. ^^ Speaking of males who recognize their love for the heroine first, this reminds me of Peeta Mellark. :D

“Does that “need” make him weak? I don’t think so. His alpha-ness still makes him go after what he wants, so it’s not that he’s scared by the need or anything. He’s strong in his need, if that makes any sense. Personally, I’d find him less alpha if he was insecure about that need for emotional connection. :)”

Good point! Yes, it makes complete sense that he’s strong in his need. I’d call it emotional strength :) Being “weak” would be denying you had emotions in the first place–or avoiding or suppressing them.

“As you said, I don’t think the genders are nearly as different as some suggest.”

:D

” Then again, I’ve tested the masculinity/femininity of my brain and came out balanced between the two”

LOL, me too! I’m sometimes very feminine, sometimes very masculine, but most of all, I think I’m quite gender neutral XD

Reply

Jami Gold May 9, 2013 at 3:08 pm

Hi Serena,

That balanced test result doesn’t surprise me at all. :D

Yes, Peeta Mellark is a good example of a hero who recognizes their love first. And ooo, “emotional strength”–great phrase. :) Thanks for the comment!

Reply

Taurean Watkins May 9, 2013 at 9:50 am

Serena,

I know you said you’re doing this for you more than anything else, and that’s certainly a valid point, but for me, and while I REALLY don’t want to sound vain, just pleasing me isn’t enough.

I want this as one of my careers. I can’t achieve my goals if it’s “all about me.” I wouldn’t have grown as a writer had I keep my head in the sand, even if there certain aspects of the process that turns me into a jerky tyrant.

That said, even if I were just thinking of myself, I STILL don’t find writing blurbs fun, and I can’t help that, all I can do is try to make them work and try not to be too hard on myself about something that isn’t my innate strength. Again, glad you don’t feel my pain on this point, but I can’t deny the lack of joy writing blurbs is for me.

Changing the subject, it’s nice to know you and Jami agree with me about how we over-demonize men, and at the same time, expect more from them, too. You seriously can’t win!

I can see how you can milk this for movies, plays, books and the like, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s NOT fun to live this in real life as it might be for some to read and watch.

As much as women say there’s still inequalities for me to fight against, and believe me, I support that, but don’t take it out on boys and men who neither-

A. Believe in or support that chauvinistic crap (No matter what that author of “Lean In” tells you)

B. Thinks it’s OKAY to force ourselves on anyone, man, woman, and certainly not children/teens. Period.

C. Didn’t live in times or households that was the norm.

Even if it was, there were always folks who went against the social “norms” however they were put down, sadly at times literally leading to death, jsut because you didn’t-

See men being superior to women.

Women who didn’t want to marry or have children.

Women who married for LOVE, not for or JUST for money.

Believed children should be seen, heard, and even TRUST with your life (I’m only talking unique circumstance here)

Sometimes not buying into our previous generations intolerance for seeing things more than one way was a GOOD thing.

Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m not saying don’t hold people accountable (Male or Female), but you don’t have to demonize the whole gender to hold those select folks who caused pain accountable.

I’ve known and seen teenagers enduring horrid life circumstances for YEARS longer than some of these judgemental “adults” 30+ would be lucky to last a day.

Sometimes I fear we push kids and teens far too hard to excel. I’m not saying to do nothing, but I feel right now all we’re teaching most who continue their education past high school is how to survive, not THRIVE, there’s a difference, and one they don’t have to my grandmother’s age to feel and burnout from.

If you can’t live up to the standards you ask of someone else, how can you say it’s “Right for THEM” to do so? That’s a question I’d like any teacher, but ESPECIALLY a high school teacher to answer.

Serena, it’s interesting you say your male friends are more overtly emotional, I have to admit I feel more comfortable around women at times than men, and it’s not just because my family’s predominantly women, but I really find it hard to relate to the men in my family, who for whatever reason, cling to the old ways of how men and women “should” behave.

That said, I do get frustrated with some of my women friends who use their experience as mothers as a weapons against us non-parents, like we don’t face hard decisions just because we don’t have a spouse and children to deal with.

You’d probably hit it off with my grandmother, who was my stand-in parent, and I mean that from a personality standpoint, not making any insults here. She’s so emotionally reserved (Which you say you are) I often mistake it for icy indifference when it wasn’t. It’s also why I got so intense in some of my replies to my comments on some of Jami’s posts.

Reply

Jami Gold May 9, 2013 at 10:08 am

Hi Taurean,

“I’m not saying don’t hold people accountable (Male or Female), but you don’t have to demonize the whole gender to hold those select folks who caused pain accountable.”

Exactly! I write romance because I love a happy ending and I’m very fond of men. LOL! Thanks for the comment!

Reply

Serena Yung May 9, 2013 at 1:38 pm

Oh, sorry, I think I gave the wrong impression of myself when I said I was “emotionally stable”, lol. I’m stable as in I don’t get upset too easily (though I do easily get upset over social inequality issues). But I am generally a “hyper and bubbly” person, haha. So maybe you could say I don’t have that much negative emotion (except on some things I particularly care about), but have a great deal of positive emotion! However, I’m not that happily positive either, because sometimes I do have anger issues (over certain things–usually, again, over social inequality topics…), and have a real “hate complex” sometimes. For instance, I get really really flared up when I hear about cases of adultery. For some reason, extramarital affairs really really upset me. :( But recently, I’ve been trying to calm myself more, that I can see adultery as wrong yet not be so blinded by my rage at the same time.

It’s also unfortunately the case that in online communications, it’s so easy misunderstand each other, because words can be interpreted in so many different ways! Emoticons help clear some ambiguity, but they don’t help completely, sadly.

“I know you said you’re doing this for you more than anything else, and that’s certainly a valid point, but for me, and while I REALLY don’t want to sound vain, just pleasing me isn’t enough.”

Just wanted to add that though in theory, I always say it’s just to please myself; in reality, I actually want to please my friends (or some of them) as well! So it’s quite a pain when my different friends want different things, ugh. But I can imagine how it’d be even harder to please a wide, general audience that you don’t know personally, so you have my sympathy for that. :(

By the way, I don’t think you sounded vain at all. :)

“Don’t get me wrong, though, I’m not saying don’t hold people accountable (Male or Female), but you don’t have to demonize the whole gender to hold those select folks who caused pain accountable.”

Exactly! It would also be unfair to think that, just because one man cheated on his wife, all men must therefore be cheaters, because this simply isn’t true. That kind of unfair generalization would be just as absurd and stupid as thinking that just because some men are rapists, that all men are rapists, ugh. :( In general, I also don’t like it when some females (or even some female friends) have a really negative view of all men–they’re a bit misandrous, and I think misandry is just as bad and unjust as misogyny. I both feel sorry for and get annoyed at men-haters. :( It’s a shame that they don’t see the good and noble things men can do as well, sigh. In fact, I have a female friend who thinks men are beautiful :) , because society expects so much of them, and thus they have to go through and do so much!

“Serena, it’s interesting you say your male friends are more overtly emotional”

Lol, yeah, for some reason almost all of my male friends are more “feminine” than average. :) (Most of them also have many female friends.) Maybe I just feel more comfortable with more feminine people in general. I also feel less comfortable interacting with females who seem completely “masculine”, for some reason. (Of course, these “feminine” and “masculine” labels only refer to the gender stereotypes, and say nothing about real men and women out there.)

“That said, I do get frustrated with some of my women friends who use their experience as mothers as a weapons against us non-parents, like we don’t face hard decisions just because we don’t have a spouse and children to deal with.”

Hmm, I haven’t encountered this before, but I can imagine that some people believe that having a spouse and children somehow make them “superior” in this sense. XP There is so much in life unrelated to marriage, children, and family life that are hard too, like careers, health, and friendships.

Reply

Taurean Watkins May 9, 2013 at 2:07 pm

Thanks for replying, Serena, like you I have to work at not exploding as much as I once did. I’m still opinionated at times, but compared to the big blow ups I had on AW, thse are WAY tamer, and I’d like to hope (For those who knew from AW) I’m less abrasive now, while still being honest.

But like you I do have my touchy topics no matter what. Thankfully, I have great writer friends I can e-mail some of them just to get the anger and pain out, who know I’m raging about the issue, not them or even the person I have issues with at the time.

For me, anything involving injustice towards kids and teens gets to me, and of course, being primarily a children’s (and SOMEDAY YA) author, that pain I feel for them is magnified times infinity…

I’m especially protective of all struggling adults under 30, who aren’t married with kids to raise/support, because they’re too often portrayed as lazy hacks who don’t want to work hard.

Yes, there are people like that, I just wish we saw MORE who weren’t in books and in real life, they do exist, and not to brag, but I’m one of them!

In a more positive bent, any story about “Good Enough Fathers” automatically earns my resepect. Even if I’m not fond of the book or movie as a whole, just the fact that the dad’s not “pure evil” makes it it not be the subject for one of my rants, and if you’ve read my blog, you know my rants get ugly at times, well as ugly as they can be without swearing every other sentence…

Reply

Serena Yung May 10, 2013 at 2:36 pm

“I’m especially protective of all struggling adults under 30, who aren’t married with kids to raise/support, because they’re too often portrayed as lazy hacks who don’t want to work hard. ”

Yes, it’s quite sad how some people automatically throw people into a category and label them as “lazy”, “wretched”, or something of that sort. :(

Similarly, it’s really biased how some people believe that everyone has to marry and have kids or else they’re not “contributing to the society.” XP There is nothing wrong with not wanting to marry! I myself want to stay single because in my opinion, marriage and kids would take up too of the time that I would rather spend in writing, drawing, and developing my skills in those two pursuits. Maybe there’s even more stigma towards people who don’t want to marry (especially for girls) especially where I came from, Hong Kong and China. Some people think that unmarried people are “inferior”, “unwanted”, or “tragically unattractive”, which is really sad, because that simply isn’t true. Lifelong bachelors and bachelorettes can be just as cool as their married counterparts! Here’s me going on a tirade again, haha.

“In a more positive bent, any story about “Good Enough Fathers” automatically earns my respect. Even if I’m not fond of the book or movie as a whole, just the fact that the dad’s not “pure evil” makes it it not be the subject for one of my rants, and if you’ve read my blog, you know my rants get ugly at times, well as ugly as they can be without swearing every other sentence”

I also really like stories where there’s a father who loves his wife and children very much, and takes good care of them (or at least tries his best to). :) Little Women was kind of like this. :) These stories are so heartwarming.

Reply

Buffy Armstrong May 7, 2013 at 9:37 am

I never want to be famous. Talented and respected, now that’s a different story. ;-) I mean, who really wants to put up with the nonsense that Stephenie Meyer, EL James or even Charlaine Harris has to put up? It’s exhausting just thinking about. My ultimate goal is to write the books I want to write, build up a backlist and put some money away. And in that order. I don’t have to be famous or rich to meet those goals, but it’s sort of like a supplemental retirement plan. The reality is I’m having fun writing and it fulfills the desire I have to create, to put something on a piece of paper. At this point, that’s all I want or need.

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 12:39 pm

Hi Buffy,

Talented and respected–yep, I can get behind that. :)

“My ultimate goal is to write the books I want to write, build up a backlist and put some money away.”

That’s pretty close to my goals. No surprise there, my friend. ;) Thanks for the comment!

Reply

Kim Barton May 7, 2013 at 9:38 am

Thought provoking post. It is always good to set goals. I was recently asked what my goals were for my blog…and I didn’t know! I’m taking a break from writing for a week to figure it out.

I have never wanted to be a famous writer. My main goal is to write a good historical fiction novel that is well received. I want people to like the story and characters and to find my historical research accurate. I do want people to learn something about the time period from my books. That’s one reason I do historical fiction.

I’m not doing this for money. I am writing for my own personal enjoyment. That doesn’t mean I don’t take it seriously. I read books and blogs about the craft of writing. I study the books I read and the movies I watch to learn about good (and bad) storytelling.

I want to be good at what I do, and I want to be appreciated for what I write, but I don’t need to be famous. This isn’t because I’m afraid of success, but because I’m an introverted person who is uncomfortable being the center of attention.

Thanks for another great post!

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 12:42 pm

Hi Kim,

Ooo, that’s a great question. Many authors do wonder why they’re doing their blog if they’re connecting only to other writers (which is typical, as readers don’t usually follow the blogs of authors unless they’re tip-top favorites–and maybe not even then). But there can be other goals for all that work: getting your name out there, building a network, practicing writing to deadline, etc., etc.

“I’m not doing this for money. I am writing for my own personal enjoyment. That doesn’t mean I don’t take it seriously. I read books and blogs about the craft of writing. I study the books I read and the movies I watch to learn about good (and bad) storytelling.

I want to be good at what I do, and I want to be appreciated for what I write, but I don’t need to be famous. This isn’t because I’m afraid of success, but because I’m an introverted person who is uncomfortable being the center of attention.”

This. :) Thanks for the great comment!

Reply

Dennis May 7, 2013 at 11:33 am

I am writing my first novel (horror/romance) & my goal is to scare & entertain my readers. Making money is nice of course but being famous is one of those goals best left in the rear. What exactly is “famous”? Being on TV? having your book made into a movie? Best-seller list?

Fame is one of those things that usually happens as a result of a plan & hard work & a bit of good luck.

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 12:44 pm

Hi Dennis,

Great point! Some people want to be famous and they figure writing is simply a path to that fame. Others choose trying out for Survivor. Neither way is easy. :) Thanks for the comment!

Reply

Amanda May 7, 2013 at 12:23 pm

I used to want to be able to walk into a store and see my books on a shelf-so sorta kinda almost famous, I guess? Then I saw Jennifer Probst’s success story with The Marriage Bargain, and I changed my mind. Her book wasn’t available in stores…and she still made a ton of money. The more research I did on digital-first publishers, the more the idea of actually making enough money to buy a new pair of shoes from my books took root (as opposed to the cup of coffee I could buy if my book was sold in stores). So that’s my goal: I’d love to establish a presence with a digital first publisher. I understand that means I could very well be forgoing having my books available in print, and I’m totally fine with that.

I love that there are so many more options out there now! In fact, I’ve actually made the choice to stop querying agents for the time being, and focus on submitting directly to publishers. I may pursue one in the future, but since my choice is digital-first, why have a middleman? All I need for a contract negotiation is a good lawyer :)

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Hi Amanda,

That’s a great example of how you decided on your goal and then chose a path to match that. :) A similar thought about middlemen has led me to entering contests over the past several months with editors as the final judge rather than agents. Thanks so much for sharing!

Reply

Marcy Kennedy May 7, 2013 at 12:49 pm

This post hit home for me.

In 2011, back on Girls With Pens, I wrote a post about why I wanted to traditionally publish. I didn’t realize how much my goals would change in the less than two years since. Some of those changes are due to the upheaval in the publishing industry, but some of them are due to growing more comfortable in my own skin and being able to deal with some personal demons in other ways. Now self-publishing (or being a hybrid author at the most) is more in line with my goals.

I don’t care about seeing my book in a bookstore, and I was never in this to become famous. I no longer feel the need to have an agent and/or publisher validate me.

I do need to make money from my writing. I love what I do, and I obviously want to create quality books that touch people, but the bottom line is I need to make enough money at it that I can stop doing some of the other work I currently do. More money than I would get as a mid-list author with a traditional publisher. If I’m not eventually able to do that, then I’ll have a very difficult time justifying the large amount of time given to writing and taken away from my husband (and whatever kids we might someday have).

Beyond that, I’ve been self-employed most of my adult life. That was a conscious choice because I don’t like having a boss looking over my shoulder and I like to be in control. The entrepreneurial aspect of self-publishing really appeals to me because I can set my own release dates and have complete control over covers, editorial decisions, etc. I don’t want to give that up.

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Hi Marcy,

“Some of those changes are due to the upheaval in the publishing industry, but some of them are due to growing more comfortable in my own skin and being able to deal with some personal demons in other ways.”

More comfortable in our own skin–Exactly. I used to want that agent/editor validation. But between contest finals/wins, self-confidence in my writing progress, and positive responses from publishers who say “no” simply because of marketing issues, I don’t feel the need for that validation anymore. Sure, it’d be nice, but I don’t feel the need for it like I used to.

Great examination of your decision-making process. Thanks so much for sharing! :)

Reply

Tamara LeBlanc May 7, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Hi Jami.
It’s funny you bring this up today. In my writing career I’m still latched onto my original goals, get an agent, have her sell the hell out of my book, see it on shelves. That goal hasn’t changed at all, but as of last year, when my husband lost his job and then got that horrible diagnosis, I’ve added a new goal to my writing career, make money.
Honestly, before the C word came into our lives I never worried about making money selling books. All I wanted was to see my book on the shelf at B&N…that would have made me supremely happy. But, as of today, and my husband’s newest diagnosis (the tumor has returned and he needs surgery again this Monday) I feel so much more pressure to be the bread winner.
I have very little to offer the job market. I’ve been trying my best to find a job, but I have no experience and a meager college degree so it’s been tough. I’ll hopefully be starting a job working for gwinnett County Schools in the cafateria next fall, but other than fantastic insurance (thank God) my salary will be next to nothing. So I suppose, now, more than ever, I’m pinning my hopes on my writing ability and my agent.
I have huge faith in Nicole. She’s a tiger and I know she’ll work hard for me, but…sometimes, in those pesky dark minutes where all I do is doubt, I get very scared.
Hopefully, even though I haven’t yet altered my goals in order to ride the exciting roller coaster that is modern publishing, I’ll have chosen wisely.
Because for the first time in my life, choosing the right course matters.
Thanks so much for your insight, Jami.
Have a great evening and a productive rest of the week!
:)
tamara

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 1:12 pm

Hi Tamara,

I’m so sorry to hear that your husband’s tumor has returned. *hugs* Know that I’m keeping you all in my thoughts and prayers.

I understand about the need to bring in money. My family is still suffering from the layoff of over a year ago. I try not to think about that though, because I’m afraid I’d choke from the pressure and crumple under the feeling of failure when I don’t succeed as well as I hoped. Yep, I’m deep in denial. LOL! Thanks for the comment and good luck to you!

Reply

Tamara LeBlanc May 7, 2013 at 6:32 pm

I think you’re so talented, so amazing…please, never feel like a failure…you’re one in a million.
:)

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 6:33 pm

Aww, thank you, Tamara! And you, my friend, are one in a million as well. :) *hugs*

Reply

Denise D. Young May 7, 2013 at 2:04 pm

My answer is similar to yours, Jami. I don’t want to be famous. I want to make a difference in the world, to write books that help people lead better lives. Maybe I make them laugh or smile when they really need it. Maybe I provide a sense of hope or healing or help them move toward a better understanding of others and themselves. Now, plenty of famous people do those things. But fame isn’t necessary to accomplish my goals. I just want to be a storyteller, to create art, and share stories with the world–to bring others inspiration and happiness.

Equally important, I also would like to contribute to the writing community by helping other writers. That’s why I’m in critique groups, writers groups, etc. I want to be respected for the kind of person that I am and for the quality of my work, but that’s a far cry from fame and fortune. Nice post. Thanks for sharing! :)

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 2:27 pm

Hi Denise,

Exactly. Fame would actually get in the way of many of my goals. And I try “paying it forward” with writers all the time–with my blog posts, links to informative articles, etc. Thanks for the comment! :)

Reply

Melinda S. Collins May 7, 2013 at 2:38 pm

Hi Jami,

I don’t think you’re afraid of failure or success. I believe, like Maryanne, that you’ve changed. Your personal views, the outlook on your writing career, your confidence, your options in the ever-changing industry have all changed since you began in ’08. So naturally your goals–or the path to your goals–are going to change as well. So I don’t think that’s self-doubt … more like the sound of reasoning talking to you to make sure you’re exploring all the options available to you now. Rest assured, my friend, any path you take for whatever your goal is, you are going to go FAR in this industry. *hugs* :)

Thank you, thank you for hitting on this topic today. I’m wrapping up a post for tomorrow that’s similar–the dream vs. the reality. It’s odd when we think about where our publishing goals began when we started out, especially when we compare those goals to where we’re currently at in our writing career and personal lives. It’s a lot like the revisions we do on our stories–we look at the plot points, the set-up scenes between said plot points, the MRU’s/Scene-Sequels, etc.. Goal setting, to me, can be a lot like “revising our writing journey/goal.” :)

As for being famous? I think I’ll pass. LOL! I wouldn’t mind being able to do big book tours and have movie deals, not gonna lie. But the negatives–like the pressure to do right by your fans, and the backlash you get when some of them don’t like the story choices you made–can sometimes outweigh the positives. If we think about it, did J.K Rowling, Charlaine Harris, Stephanie Meyer, or Sir Arthur Conan Doyle set out to be “famous authors?” My guess is probably not. They all probably started out like all of us, with the simple goal of becoming a published author. :) Their hard work and fantastic storytelling skills paid off, that’s for sure. And as for their fame, I believe their writing, their skills, their stories, the industry, the readership–and heck, even the stars–all aligned just right for them.

It’s because of famous authors like these that I have to correct my family and friends whenever they said, “You’re gonna be a big, famous author one day. Don’t forget us little people, please.” <– Me? Nah. I'm happy with just honing my skills, being the best that I can personally be in my craft, and sitting comfortably as a mid-list author. And if I can make enough money to not "have" to keep my fulltime job? Great. If not? Oh well. I'll still be doing what I love on both ends. :)

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 3:43 pm

Hi Melinda,

“Your personal views, the outlook on your writing career, your confidence, your options in the ever-changing industry have all changed since you began in ’08.”

Very true. How could we not change over the years, right? *feels old and crotchety* ;)

“Goal setting, to me, can be a lot like “revising our writing journey/goal.””

Love this! (That whole paragraph, actually. :) ) Yes, the end product of our stories and our life often looks nothing like our initial thoughts of what it would turn out like.

And I love your goals for what would make you happy. I’m right there with you. :) Thanks for the comment and the support!

Reply

renée a. schuls-jacobson May 7, 2013 at 4:34 pm

I don’t want to be “famous.” I just want to complete a book and feel proud of it. I want to be able to say I’m an author. I don’t need fame. I just want to really feel like it was my best storytelling, my best effort. My best everything.

I wouldn’t mind being interviewed by Diane Reem though. ;)

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 4:39 pm

Hi Renee,

Wanting to feel proud of our work–I think that gets to the heart of my perfectionism. Realizing that might help me find the right line of when something is perfect enough. :) Thanks for the comment!

Reply

Melanie Marttila May 7, 2013 at 4:55 pm

Hi Jami,
Love this post because it helps to keep things in perspective.
I write, because I love it and it’s what I need to do, but I, like you, am an introvert. (Actually reading Susan Cain right now, and she SO sings to my soul.) I’m not interested in being famous. Though it’s wonderful validation I don’t really need publication. I’ll keep on writing either way. The fact that I’ve had some interest in my work is verra nice, I won’t deny it, but I don’t need it to continue turning to the page or computer on a regular basis.
I’m patient, and persistent, and a perfectionist.
I work hard too. I submit to contests, and magazines, and once this next revision is done with, I’ll be submitting to agents and editors. I just don’t want to give publication the power to kill my spirit, rejection the power to still my fingers.
Perspective.
It’s everything.

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 6:22 pm

Hi Melanie,

“I just don’t want to give publication the power to kill my spirit”

Yes! This exactly. And I fear that I’ve let those false goals do this to me occasionally over the years. That’s why I really want to get it deep into my psyche what I’m not trying to do. :) Thanks for the comment!

Reply

ChemistKen May 7, 2013 at 6:13 pm

I’ve heard too many horror stories about what happens to your life after you become famous to want to walk down that road. I wouldn’t mind being well-known as an author in a certain genre, but that’s all I would ever need.

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 6:23 pm

Hi ChemistKen,

Yes, I’m not glutton for punishment. Those horror stories aren’t appealing to me at all. :) Thanks for the comment!

Reply

Carradee May 7, 2013 at 6:14 pm

Famous? Nah. Have enough passive income coming in so I don’t have to scramble to figure out how to pay the bills, when I fall sick (like I did over a week ago and am only now getting over)? Please.

My birthday’s tomorrow (which is when a Kickstarter for release of book 2 in the series I love most but has the worst sales is due to fund*! Yay!). I’m working on book 3 in one series (which is where, from what I’ve observed in other self-publishers’ careers, things tend to take off). I have a novelette under contract, in editing—and I need to write the other two in the series. Among other things.

*Note that I’m not including a link to the Kickstarter, because I’m not mentioning it as a mooching attempt.

I don’t say all that to complain—I say all that to point out that it doesn’t help to sit there going “Woe is me! Why am I not selling?”—which is something I’ve seen a lot of folks doing. (“Oh, no! I’m not selling X copies a day! What am I doing wrong?!” As if a lack of sales even means you’re doing anything wrong.)

Sales figures are dreams, because you can’t control them. Dreams don’t do you any good if you don’t make goals to put yourself in position to kinda-sorta reach them.

Now, I’m Christian, specifically presbyterian, so I believe in God’s Providence—that God is the one who determines who gets what. You may scoff all you like, but I’ve found Him very good at giving me exactly what I need right when I need it, not when I want it. (And when I’m trusting in my own ability to do things? The money has a way of shriveling up.)

However, when a bit of much-needed money lands in my lap, it doesn’t come out of the ether. It comes from somewhere—from a work lead I put out weeks or months before and forgot about, from a friend who remembered what I do for a living…from some e-books I left up at a vendor that I hadn’t seen a sale from in over a year. :)

Dreams should lead to goals, which should lead to “How am I going to reach that goal?”

And when you reach for a goal, trip, and tumble on your face, the answer is not to wail that you’ve failed and must give up your dream. No, the answer is to stop and evaluate if you were on the wrong path (doing the wrong thing), wearing the wrong shoes (doing the right thing the wrong way), or just experiencing clumsiness (doing nothing wrong).

And when your dreams or goals change? Then your plans might need to change, too. Sometimes people forget that.

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 6:30 pm

Hi Carradee,

“Sales figures are dreams, because you can’t control them.”

Great point! Yes, dreams are different from goals in that regard. Goals need to be tangible things we can work toward. And right now, I’m in that evaluation phase. Have I tripped? I don’t even know. :)

But I feel the need to ask myself those questions you mentioned anyway–just to make sure. :) Thanks for the comment!

Reply

Carradee May 7, 2013 at 8:51 pm

To give credit where it’s due…

Kris Rusch was the one who got me thinking properly about goals vs. dreams. (See this blog post.)

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 11:09 pm

Hi Carradee,

Great post–thanks for sharing the link. I actually talked about the difference as one of my very first blog posts, so it’s good to get the reminder. :) Thanks!

Reply

Serena Yung May 7, 2013 at 7:25 pm

Hey Jami!

I love this post! ^^

Haha, I am a fame-phobic. ^^ In fact, I want to be one of those really cool people who are truly GREAT writers, but whom nobody knows about. I want to be one of those unknown Greats! :D

The biggest reason why I don’t want to be famous is because I don’t want to become arrogant and think I’m “superior” to other people. :( I have this belief that fame can separate you from the people you love, unless you have an extraordinary amount of self-control and humility, which I don’t. ^^ In fact, even the pursuit of fame will make me arrogant.

Another reason why I shun fame is because I feel that if you become a public figure, people will form a certain image of you, and you will be expected to have that certain style/ story/characters, etc. I don’t want to be fixed into anything by other people. I want complete freedom over what I write, and not be controlled by my fans. O_O

Yet another reason why I abhor fame is that from this Human Motivation course I took for psychology, we learned that having such an “extrinsic goal” of becoming rich, famous, and popular makes you more likely to develop depression. And you are more likely to have a lower life satisfaction too.

As for my definition of what makes a writer successful, I think you’re successful if you manage to express what you want to express. And everybody has a different, unique thing to express from inside themselves, so NOBODY can express it for them. That’s what makes writing so wonderful! Everybody has their own different and idiosyncratic stories! :)

That’s why I think we shouldn’t compare writers and think that writer X is “simply superior” to writer Y or anything., because everybody’s lives (and therefore stories) are different and equally beautiful and worthwhile. Thus, I think the only time we can compare writers is to compare their power/ skill of expression. So X is superior to Y only in that she is more skilled and can express herself more powerfully, NOT because HER STORY is intrinsically superior to Y’s. (And just because one writer’s story appeals more to most people than another writer’s, doesn’t mean the two writers’ stories are unequal in inherent value.)

So that is my philosophy. :)

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 11:05 pm

Hi Serena,

LOL! “Fame-phobic.”

Yes, great point about how public figures having to become and be trapped by their image. And yep to the internal goals often being healthier than external goals. :) Thanks for the comment!

Reply

Rinelle Grey May 7, 2013 at 10:58 pm

That article about the Suzie Stackhouse books is scary! Sometimes I get frustrated at how a book/movie/tv series ends, but their reactions are taking it way to far!

As for writing goals, I have no wish to be famous either. I like my nice little quiet life, and I often don’t even tell friends that I write! it’s not about that for me.

I’d like to be able to make a living from my books mainly because it means that I’ll be able to devote more time to writing without feeling guilty! Mostly though, I just want to share my stories with others. Self publishing works for me because it has the potential to achieve both of these goals, without the need for me to be famous or do book signings.

Reply

Jami Gold May 7, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Hi Rinelle,

“I’d like to be able to make a living from my books mainly because it means that I’ll be able to devote more time to writing without feeling guilty!”

LOL! Yes, I can relate to that. :) Thanks for the comment!

Reply

Lynette M. Burrows May 8, 2013 at 4:03 am

Jami, very thought provoke post (as evidenced by the comments you’ve received.) Fame is not a goal of mine. I figure it will come or it won’t. I have no control over that. What I have control over is what I write and how I write it. (I have no control over whether I write, that’s a part of me that I cannot deny). I would dearly love to make enough money to be able to quit the day job, so I can write more. :) But the main reason I want to have at least one book ‘out there’ is that I want to pass on the joy of reading, the ‘touch’ that is reading a book that lifts your spirits or inspires you. I’m lifting my cup of coffee to toast you, ‘here’s to meeting our goals.’

Reply

Jami Gold May 8, 2013 at 9:42 am

Hi Lynette,

“What I have control over is what I write and how I write it.”

Great way to put it. I’ve always known there were many aspects to the publishing process I couldn’t control, but a part of me still was holding on to goals/dreams depending on some of those. I think part of my reevaluation is about really putting those pieces aside and coming up with a path that matches more fully with what’s under my control. (Interesting! I hadn’t thought of it that way before. :) ) Thanks for the great comment!

Reply

Sondrae Bennett May 8, 2013 at 9:54 am

Lately, I’ve been having a hard time what to do with my current project once it’s finished, and I think the biggest problem I’ve had is my goals need to be re-examined (although I didn’t realize that until I read this post). Looks like I need to do some soul searching.

Reply

Jami Gold May 8, 2013 at 9:58 am

Hi Sondrae,

Great point! Sometimes our goals for one project might be different from our goals for other projects. I’d always figured I’d be a hybrid author because I knew some of my stories weren’t a good match for traditional publishing while others were. Good luck with your soul searching and thanks for the comment!

Reply

Kat Morrisey May 8, 2013 at 1:49 pm

great post!! Hmmm, do I want to be a famous writer? Heck no. Not only would I never be handle a situation like Charlaine Harris has had to deal with (I’d be hiding in my house for fear of my life!) but I just don’t have the desire to be out in the public eye. I’m an introvert. If fame came my way I’d look for the nearest desk to hide under. And probably never come out.

So instead of being rich and famous I just want to keep writing the stories that pop into my head and continue *hopefully* to improve in the craft. If one of my books ever gets published, I’d of course be ecstatic and would likely cry like a baby for days. But not because I want to make money or be famous. I’ll cry because my words, my story, will be out there in the world for people to read. And as a writer, I’ll take getting my words out to readers over fame/fortune any day. :D

Reply

Jami Gold May 8, 2013 at 3:55 pm

Hi Kat,

Yes, I understand. :)

“I’ll take getting my words out to readers over fame/fortune any day.”

Beautifully put! Thanks for the comment!

Reply

Addy Rae May 8, 2013 at 7:41 pm

I have no interest in fame, but I would like to make enough money to pay off my student loans and mortgage and live comfortably while saving for retirement. So, not rich, because I don’t need rich, but comfortable so a sudden medical bill won’t ruin us and we have money for our dotage.

I’d like to reach readers in my (somewhat specific) genres, and I’d like to write in them because they’re books I like that there aren’t very many written.

So I guess mostly I want to be read, and I want to be financially stable.

Reply

Jami Gold May 9, 2013 at 8:15 am

Hi Addy Rae,

Those sound like nice, solid goals. :) Thanks for the comment!

Reply

Rocketmouse May 11, 2013 at 9:04 pm

What I want is to reach out to other people who can relate to and appreciate my work. I also like the idea of making a living off of my writing, which requires some degree of commercial success. Fame is probably something that comes along with that package, but I’m kind of an introvert, so I see that more as something to cope with than aspire to. Luckily author-fame usually isn’t as intense as what actors, musicians and athletes have to deal with.

Reply

Jami Gold May 11, 2013 at 9:58 pm

Hi Rocketmouse,

Ha! Yes, fame is something to cope with than aspire to. Well said. :) Thanks for the comment!

Reply

Sarah Aisling May 16, 2013 at 9:49 pm

Hi Jami! I don’t think I’ve commented before, but I do read and enjoy your posts.

I’m a very private person, so I would hate to be famous. I’m still working on my book, but I’d love for it to do well without having to be in the public eye. Only a handful of people in my life (outside of online friends) even know that I write. My fear is I will adjust what I write or hold back based on who might be reading it, so I choose not to spread the news around.

Sarah

Reply

Jami Gold May 16, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Hi Sarah,

Aww, thank you! I know what you mean about wanting attention to be on your book and not on you. Like you, I don’t go into details about my writing with many real-life people. Even my extended family knows only that I write but not the genre or anything. They wouldn’t respect that I write fiction, much less romance, much less paranormal romance. LOL! *shrug* Their loss, right? :) Thanks for the comment!

Reply

What do you think?

70 Comments below - Time to Add your own.

Previous post:

Next post: