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Ten Things You Need to do to Survive as an Author (and the Q&A Vlog Part 2)

by Kellyn Roth |
January 4, 2017

Okay, let’s just start with a disclaimer: I’m not being serious. This is a fun, silly post. However, there are grains of truth in it, too. At least, I think so.

Now, today I’m going to tell you of ten things you need to do to survive as an author. Now, in this case, I primarily mean a published author such as myself, but some of the ten things also apply to you who have written a book/are writing a book but haven’t actually published because, unlike me, you’re patient enough to wait for a nice acceptance letter from a prestigious company. ๐Ÿ˜‰

Seriously, though, guys, this is gonna be a fun post. And possibly an informative one. But mostly just a fun one. Because nothing I say here is meant to be taken serious.

At least not very seriously …

(And yes, I realize I haven’t taken my own advice …ย yet. But I will someday. You’ll see …)

1: Prepare a quick conversational summary of each of your books.

Here’s the reason why: You meet some random person and you say, “I wrote a book.”
“Oh, really? What’s it about?”
And then comes that twisted feeling in your gut. Your eyes open wide, you brace for impact, and there you are … at the post office … staring at the clerk … like a deer in the headlights. I HAVE SEEN DEER IN THEย HEADLIGHTS!!! THEY ARE STUPID AND PITIFUL AND TERRIFYING!!! YOUย WANT TO HIT THEM AND YET YOU DON’T BECAUSE YOU FEEL SO. DANG.ย SORRY FOR THEM!!!!!!
And you say, “Oh, it’s … about … a little girl … who lives in London.” WHAT THE WHAT?!?!?! That is NOT what The Dressmaker’s Secret is about, just to clarify.
But now I’m prepared. From now on, when an evil post office clerk asks me what The Dressmaker’s Secret is about, I can tell her about it. Not only that, but I can sell it to her.
That is, as soon as I come up with a conversational summary of TDS. Which I haven’t … yet. But I’m going to at some point. I mean it. XD
Maybe one of you should come up with a quick conversational summary for me.
Seriously. Do it! If you’ve actually read The Dressmaker’s Secret, that is. Maybe I should make a contest or something … would that be fun? What do y’all want? And keep in mind that I have no money. So I can, um, put on a chicken suit and dance the Macarena for you, basically.
It’ll be great.

2: Don’t freak out when someone marks your book as ‘currently-reading’ (on Goodreads, I mean) and it remains in ‘currently-reading’ status for ten years.

This … has never actually happened to me before. I mean, not for ten years, but for a couple weeks. And I know the reason why, too (a friend of mine was reading it and her Kindle broke), but … still. Don’t freak out, dude.
Because it doesn’t mean he/she hates you book.
Actually, it probably does. Bury your head in the ground like an ostrich.

3: Don’t freak out when someone just rates your book and doesn’t write a review.

This has happened to me quite a bit. It happens to all authors quite a bit, without a single exception. Why do I say this? Well, take a peak at any book on Goodreads. It’ll usually say something like ‘1,000 ratings, 50 reviews.’ Un … bee … leave … able.
I’m as guilty of this as anyone. I have read 437 books (that I marked on Goodreads as ‘read,’ anyway) and only written 156 reviews. And I bet over half of those are just ‘will review later’ or ‘great book’ or ‘rotten book.’
So this is definitely a case of my shoving my log aside to reach for everyone else’s specks, but you know what? What do I care. THERE COULD BE 29 REVIEWS AND THERE ARE ONLY 21!!! *sobs*
I’m sorry. I don’t actuallyย have ten whole things so I had to add random stuff in here and there …

4: Don’t freak out when someone writes a good review of your book.

People are always like, “Yeah, man, everyone gets bad reviews … it’s okay. I’m a-gonna write a whole blog post about how you can cope.”
After all, the positive reviews meanย they liked it … but are theyย lying? No one lies in negative reviews obviously because who likes to be mean? But positive reviews? That’s a whole different ball game, baby.
Are they trying not to hurt your fragile first-time-author feelings? Is it just because they know you? Or is it because theyย take a malicious pleasureย in building up your hopes, knowing you’re totally gonnaย get a bunch of bad reviews later?
Yeah, that must be it …

5: Realize that not everyone knows there are literally two zillion other writers out there.

And there are only 6 billion people on earth! Seriously, though. Most people are gonna think you’re something hot if you say in passing, “Oh, yeah, I wrote a book and published it.”
I’m not kidding. I’ve had that “Ohmygoshseriously?” reaction many, many times. And, sometimes, if you’re nice and actually read #1, you might sell a copy right there! I have.
Granted, I’ve only sold one copy that way … but there’s a chance. And it’s always good to get a non-author’s perspective on your book … because it’s getting harder and harder to get reviews from non-professional, non-writer readers.

6: Don’t panic every time you find a major plot hole in your novel.

I mentioned at the end of another post that I’ve found a lot of plot holes in Ivy Introspective that needed correcting, right?
Well, I found another one.
You know that poem, The Highwayman?
It was written in 1906.
Anyway, I kinda started to freak out (because that is an adorable scene and I’d hate to chop it!), but … then I remembered this point here. No freaking out over the plot holes.
The tremendous plot holes.
The gaping plot holes.
The plot holes which threatened to swallow me alive.

7: Know that, with perseverance, you’ll be that good someday.

You can start writing and expect to be Jane Austen. It takes years. All the time, I look around me and go, “What’s the point, even?” I mean, seriously, guys! Every Indie writer in existence is better at writing than me!!!
And formatting … and covers … don’t get me started!
So should I give up?
If I give up, these characters will buzz around my head for eternity. And I’ll go mad.
So don’t give up, fair partially-sane human being. You can do it.

8: Don’t take criticism of your characters personally.

I have a bad tendency to think my characters are me and then defend them as I would myself. Oftentimes I’ll end up defending things I don’t actually careย about/believe inย because of this. Do I thinkย Mr. Knight is totally justified? Nope. But have I said I do? Yep.


That’s what imagination’s for. So yeah. Stop telling me that. I’m a historical fiction writer. I KNOW NOTHING!
Seriously, though, do some research if you don’t knowย … and don’t say “okay,” like, before the 1920s at the very earlier. It’s sooo annoying!


Because I couldn’t think of a tenth point.

And that’s about it.

Before you go, Kellyn and Bailey’s Second Q&A Vlog:


Good bye and good writing,

~Kellyn Roth

What do you think of my thoughts?

48 Responses

  1. Awesome (and funny)(but you still have good points, of course I take what you say seriously…. lots of it. haha ;D ) post! I haven’t published any of my works yet… but I’ll share bits with my family and sometimes, yeah, as I pace outside the door waiting for them to finish…. I start to wonder…. They are saying it’s good just not to hurt my feelings. ;D Of course they’re not, but still… Sharing writing is crazy and for those of you who publish… that takes courage! =)
    Love the advice. Especially p.7… that’s kinda what I’ve been realizing (again…) lately. It isn’t good to compare yourself to anyone (not saying you can’t learn from others, there is a different, though it can get fuzzy sometimes). That isn’t why God gave us each a gift to write. Yahweh doesn’t want us to be perfect- just to follow Him and do our best. โ™ฅ

    1. Taking me seriously (ever!) would be crazy! You’d need to put me in jail!
      It is scary, but it’s also pretty cool. ๐Ÿ™‚ And yep, comparing yourself to others doesn’t work! You’re your own person; obviously you can’t be anyone else!

      1. Love the vlog. =D Haha, Arabians are awesome! I have actually never met one myself, but our Northern Native American mare, Fawn, has this kinda face that curves… kind of like an Arabian. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Dapples are AMAZING, Bailey (and I DIED when Bailey said ‘I like horses’, agreed, seriously… why choose?! XD). And…. I asked my sis, pintos didn’t use to be a breed….but now, they sort of are…. according to google, paints and pintos are a color breed. ;D Hm…. weird.
        Love the video, girls, awesome. ๐Ÿ˜€ And…. hello, Dumas….. I have to say that Dumas’ Scottish accent…. IS AMAZING. I’m dying. =D

        1. I adore Arabians and any horse that looks like an Arabian … they are gorgeous and spirited. I’ve heard they can be hard to handle, but I’ve ridden one, and she was a sweetheart. On the other hand, every horse is different, so I guess it depends. ๐Ÿ™‚
          I always learned that Pintos were a color and Paints were a breed … the times they are a-changing! ๐Ÿ˜‰
          Dumas will be glad to hear it! He takes great pride in his, er, performances. It’s both a gift and a curse to his big sister … ๐Ÿ˜‰

          1. Yeah! Every horse is different, but that is so sweet! I think it is every horse, and maybe their blood line may be hot (like Arabians are said to be), but if it’s your best friend…. that’s that. ;D โ™ฅ
            The whole horse color thing is soo confusing… xD Like, anymore, you can have a blue roan horse… but if it’s face is more reddish, it is consider a red roan. What?! The whole equestrian world is just ridiculous, we try to steer from it, lol.
            LOL! I gotcha, but if he gives you too much trouble… you can always throw Lucky Charms at him. Haha!

            1. I’ve never owned a horse, or even spent a lot of time with any one, plus I’m awful with horses, so I doubt an Arabian is gonna be the horse for me, although I still love them to death. (what I hear about them sounds a lot like me, actually!) Wasn’t able to get CHA Level 2 last year like I hoped. ๐Ÿ™ So yeah, I’m currently going through a period when I’m like, “DON’T LET ME NEAR A HORSE I CAN BARELY TROT WITHOUT LOOKING LIKE AN IDIOT!!!” ๐Ÿ˜‰ But I hope I’ll get to be near horses soon and then maybe I’ll overcome my feeling of idiocy and find lessons or something. ๐Ÿ™‚
              I know, that’s crazy! How do the official equestrian people come up with this?
              That would probably work, know Dumas …

              1. OOH! Why will you be near them? That is so awesome! Who knows, God has odd ways- you never know what might come up… ๐Ÿ˜‰ You’ll get riding in no time, it just takes practice, and honestly I don’t have much either…. We got on trails sometimes but not as much as we should. But God will put the right horses in your life.
                That is so amazing. I was reading your stuff and thinking… ‘Gosh, that sounds so fitting for Kellyn… Arabians. Perfect.” It is so funny you said that! =D
                What is CHA? ๐Ÿ™‚ Haha, I don’t trot much at all!! Like, ever. Ha. I usually ride Cosmo, and he is like a big slug… he is lazy. So we’re usually good with not going too fast (it takes a lot to make him go!), baha!

                1. I don’t know where or how; I just know I really want to be around horses, and I’m hoping God will make a way. ๐Ÿ™‚ I do know my parents aren’t going to buy a horse for me any time soon. Neither of my parents much care for horses, and the expense is more than they’re willing to pay! And then they keep saying that I’d ride it a couple times and be done with it. I’m like, “I hope you’re joking …” ๐Ÿ˜‰
                  Really? That’s so funny! I think I originally heard about Arabians when I was eight or nine. I read “King of the Wind” by Marguerite Henry, and I fell in love. After that, it was just a matter of checking out every book on Arabians from the library and soaking it in and gawking at pictures of them and dreaming about them (like, seriously, I dream about riding horses at least once a week …) I think I’ve forgotten most of what I learned, though, and what’s book-learning compared to actually riding the horse! ๐Ÿ˜€
                  Certified Horsemanship Association. It’s something the ranch camp I went to let’s the campers do. I did level one three years back, and I thought I could move right on to level 2 with next-to-no practice … uh-uh! No way! That’s not happening. On the other hand, I blame having the horse I had assigned to me for the camp! I’ve forgotten the name, but she was a big slug, too! That probably wasn’t why, but I still wish I had an easier horse. I guess they thought I was better than I was when they were assigning horses? I don’t know. *shrugs*

  2. Hah, I love all of your tips!! Especially your first one. That idea is genius! I think I’ve told a couple people that I was writing a book, and of course, they asked, “What’s it about?” And, of course, I stuttered, stumbled over some words, and finally got a sentence or two out. And then I think, “This is why I’m an introvert and don’t like to talk to people.” I think every author should make a quick summary of their book, and I will work on that in my head. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    As for numbers two and three, I don’t have much experience with that, since no one that uses Goodreads has read it. But I can certainly understand those thoughts. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Oh yeah, and number 4 too.
    Oh my goodness…. formatting… my worst nightmare! I never want to go through that torture again! People always say how they don’t like editing. I like editing my book. I can edit all day. But formatting? No way. I would love to run in the opposite direction.

    1. I do the same thing, obviously! “It’s about a little girl who lives in London.” A LITTLE GIRL WHO LIVES IN LONDON!? That is not the plot of TDS. XD
      I want to read it sometime … but I just keep forgetting and I never have money.
      I HATE formatting! I mean, hate it. It seriously just gets on my nerve. And I always do it at last moment, so I’m stressed … I need to rethink my scheduling … ๐Ÿ˜‰

      1. Oh, you mean you want to read my book? Well, I’m very honored, but you don’t even need money. I’m actually not officially selling it yet. (Must sort that out…) You can read a copy, though, in return for a review on Goodreads! Do you want me to send you it over email? I only have a PDF version, though.
        Yes, someone who feels my pain! ๐Ÿ˜› I started doing it, and I didn’t think it would take so long… and then it did… and I didn’t even know what to do half of the time.

  3. -takes everything completely seriously- –completely– This was a great post! So informative and helpful and I took notes the whole time and didn’t laugh once. I shall never write anything that I know. I won’t even read the reviews I (someday) get on Goodreads. I’m so inspired by this. Absolutely amazed. (Note the great sarcasm of course!) ๐Ÿ˜› This post was hilarious, and I really loved it!
    But like you said, there are some grains of truth. I really do need to prepare a conversational summary of my book…but how do I even do that? Enhanced has five main characters, so to explain all of them…well, it takes a while. And then if I say “It’s about this group trying to take over the government!” they’ll almost certainly pass it off as cliche dystopia with love triangles and all of that. It’s notttt….it’s epic sci-fi… -writes down “conversational summary” on mental to-do list-
    Hmm…for TDS you could do something like, “It’s historical fiction, about a little girl living in London with her mother, trying to figure out who her father is.” Actually, that’s really short and doesn’t describe it too much at all. And hey, 21 out of 29 reviews is a pretty good ratio! I mean, compared to 50 out of 1000. ๐Ÿ˜‰
    I was driving one night when I was first learning how to drive, and there was this deer that ran out into the road and it totally scared me, because its eyes reflected my headlights, so it was just staring at me with this glowing eyes before it bounded away. Creepy.
    All right, I’ve rambled long enough…I hope you enjoy the long comment! ๐Ÿ˜›

    1. Ha! Yeah, take notes, because it’ll serve you well … *whistles innocently*
      Hmm … let’s see. “It’s an epic sci-fi novel in which the government is trying to ‘enhance’ people and a group has to put a stop to it’? Or is that not a plot at all? I don’t think it is. I think I made that plot up … XD
      I’m sorry … you knew TDS enough to do one of these and I have no idea what Enhanced is about! *facepalm* I do remember the characters, though … that count for something? ๐Ÿ˜›
      Yeah, 21 out of 29 is super impressive! They mostly all reviewed it for me as a favor, but still, it’s nice.
      Whoa … that’s not good. I have that happen to me all the time. Deer overpopulate our area because … I suppose their natural predators aren’t around? I don’t know, but there are bout three deer per square inch. And it’s so hard to get a license …
      Long, rambly comments are the best!

      1. Definitely. I saved all the notes to reference later. ๐Ÿ˜›
        No, actually, that’s exactly what it’s about! Besides, even if it wasn’t, I have read TDS, and you haven’t read Enhanced, so I don’t expect you to know all about it…but you did get it right! And yeah, if you remember the characters, that is impressive, considering how many there are!
        It is nice! -should probably review it at some point, eheh-
        Deer come around here all the time, too! They like to hang out in our backyard and eat our garden. ๐Ÿ˜›

        1. Oh, good! So I did remember something … for once … ๐Ÿ˜‰
          -should probably encourage you to write a review at some point- -is too lazy to do so- -shrugs-
          That was how I convinced mom to get a dog; telling her that the rosebushes weren’t going to survive otherwise …

          1. Yup! Just once, though.
            -will reread it at some point so she can- -is also lazy right now, hehe-
            There you go. I bet the deer never come by anymore.

                    1. Well, she eats and drinks and walks around the house and meows … and sometimes she eats birds, but otherwise … no. But I guess she’s a pretty active cats as cats go …

  4. *cracks up* *highfives you for no reason* This entire post was so amazing … XD I really don’t have anything else to say that … actually makes sense … and … it’s kind of late but … *cracks up again* Good advice though! I must remember every bit of these beautiful diamonds of wisdom. *snods solemnly* *runs away, cackling evilly*

  5. You are the most hilarious blogger that I have found. ๐Ÿ˜€ seriously! ๐Ÿ™‚ But I really like your 0first point! I have started about 20 books in my lifetime. (and never finished any, but that’s besides the point) Recently, my dad found out, and told my grandma, and of course, she asked that question. What was I supposed to say!?!:P

    1. Ah, thanks!
      Um … “It’s about … stuff. Y’know, Grandma. Stuff about … stuff and then they do stuff.”
      She’ll think you’re crazy. “Kids these days …” ๐Ÿ˜‰

  6. I know exactly what you mean about summarizing books you’ve written! (Or attempted to write. Or just writing projects in general.) For this year’s NaNo, I’m pretty sure my description of it was something along the lines of, “It’s about a rebellion. There’s some sand. Lots of sand. Um.”
    On the other hand, I might have started one of my rambly tangents and spewed something akin to gibberish about how annoying it is to figure out this or that or Arevik’s economy or how the university does this specific thing, and the person is like, “…what?”
    I agree with #7, too– sometimes I feel like everyone else is better at writing, making covers, or everything to do with writing in general. (Which can be quite true.) Usually, though, it’s because they’ve had much more practice and been working at it for much longer than I have, and that’s okay. If I’ve just been busy, I’ve just been busy, and that doesn’t make me (or anyone) a bad writer.
    By the way, I won’t be able to get back to Ivy Introspective for about a week, but I’ll definitely finish reading and critiquing before February. I hope that you’re able to alter and keep that scene with Posy!

    1. Yeah, the same goes for me (about summaries/telling people about your book).
      Yeah, comparing yourself to others just doesn’t work, which is bad for me, ’cause it’s my #1 habit! ๐Ÿ˜‰
      As long as it’s done before February (or even mid-February, if January becomes crazy for you), that’s okay. ๐Ÿ™‚ I hope so, too … I really like that scene! I’m working out a couple ways to fix it now, though. ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. I’m late……But who cares! ๐Ÿ˜›
    These are all wonderful tips! The first one is wonderful! It’s so hard telling people about your stories and such………
    Royals!!!!!! That song is…………………unexplainable…….. ๐Ÿ˜‰

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