Are you surprised that bestselling authors need help? Don’t be. While they are in an enviable position, that position is not without its hazards.
1.) Performance: Each book must be as good or better than the last book to keep readers reading.
2.) Sales: In direct correlation to the first item, the readership will result in sales. A bestselling author doesn’t want to see a big drop in sales.
3.) Schedules: Being in demand creates additional demand. Bestselling authors find that everyone wants them to write more books. More opportunities present themselves, and this can cause conflict as the writer must decide whether she can or will increase her writing time and balance it with promotional time and personal time.
4.) Burnout: Authors writing book after book after book can find themselves becoming tired of their topics and brands and just plain tired.
By the time they reach this level, most authors have built their network of support with a team of excellent publishing professionals. These people, including agents and editors, are a help in keeping authors sane.
Are you ready to become a bestselling author?
Who is your favorite bestselling author?
Out of the four points, which do you think you would, or do you, find most challenging?
Two of my favorite best selling authors are Brandilyn Collins and Diann Mills.
Scheduling time is a big concern now, and I’m sure time management will be a major concern when I become published. I’m the rocking chair generation where I have elderly parents, one child still in college, and two small granddaughters. But I’ll keep juggling and hope to be published one day.
I’ll keep my eyes on Jesus and see where my writing takes me. Thanks for sharing, Tamela.
My current favorite bestselling author is Charles Martin although I don’t think his subsequent writing has ever matched is first 2 books: The Dead Don’t Dance and Maggie. Others I like: Tom Clancy, John Grisham, Karin Fossum. Many of my favorite authors never make it to best sellers. IMHO, the best of the best sellers keep a constant protagonist and put that protagonist in different situations. Schedules and burnout would be the most likely for me. My current goal is to write all my novels first so the schedule for producing becomes less of the issue and so does burnout. In addition, I think the loss of quality from first novels to the next can be directly attributed to the the yearly release schedule. That’s too quick for me to produce an excellent work and probably too quick for most writers.
Hi Tamela, I was excited to read this post. My favorite best-selling author is Robert B. Parker. Of the four points, I think number three would be the most challenging for me. I have time to write and am very disciplined in doing so. But it seems logical that promoting a book, especially your first book, would be similar to giving birth to your first child. Your life is about to change–dramatically. While wonderful and exciting, that comfortable, relaxing life you’re accustomed to, well, that’s over. At least for a while. I hope I’m up for the challenge because I’m seriously considering (finally) submitting a proposal.
Thought-provoking article, Tamela! I have had the privilege of working with several best-selling (CBA) authors, and one commonality they share is that their advances have been cut in half over the past five years.
That, coupled with so many book stores going out of businesses, results in fewer book sales, on average, than they were seeing a few years ago.
If they wish to continue to make a living through authoring books, the pressure to produce a steady stream (2-4 titles per year) of top-notch content is tremendous.
Because they’re working on at least three books at a time, best-selling authors are laser-focused on “the next project.” As a result, they have little time to market the book that has just been released. They rely heavily on friends, outsourced professionals, and their publishing house’s marketing team to get the word out about their latest book so they can focus on what the do best: writing more books.
What interesting insights! Thank you for sharing this perspective, Laura!
Laura, your comment got me thinking in a wonderful way. 2-4 top notch books a year, wowzers. I believe it and I wonder if the pressure those authors feel might take some of the fun out of the craft. I understand that it’s part of the job, but still…
And then your comment about advances being cut in half. I’m wondering if publishing houses are taking less and less risk on debut authors these days and sticking with the ones that have a reputation in the industry. All of this goes to show that passion for the craft wins over all the business stuff. Well for some at least. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
That many books at once is mind-boggling! Not to mention that best-selling authors often have movie and TV deals in the works, do media appearances, and speak regularly at events.
Because they have proven themselves by consistently delivering fresh, high-quality manuscripts, I think publishers are more likely to take risks on these authors. But, like all authors, they’re expected to continually build their brand and their readership.
The authors who can juggle all these commitments approach this job with a combination of passion for the written word and a no-nonsense businesslike approach. It’s a balance that’s difficult to achieve. But it’s an important one.
Sandy Faye Mauck
My favorite authors would have to be Cathy Marie Hake and Kim Vogel Sawyer right now.
I guess # 3 would be the most challenging.
btw Tamera, I just got through reading The British Brides collection and it was the first collection I can honestly say that I loved every single story. There were 9 and that wasn’t enough.
Sandy Faye Mauck
Oh gosh I wrote Tamera- thinking on Tamera Alexander and I KNOW your name. Please forgive me. I love different names.
Tamela Hancock Murray
Sandy Faye, no worries! I’ll answer to just about any name as long as the person seems friendly. And you do. 🙂
Sandy Faye Mauck
Tamela, thank you for reminding us that even once we have a bestseller, we still need to be vigilant in order to keep our writing careers vibrant.
My favorite author, right now, is Terri Blackstock. I love a mix of mystery and romance in my reads and in my own writing.
#1 is what I would focus on since it all comes down to having a great book. Without a page-turner everything else is superfluous. I’m doing NaNoWriMo this month–it’s giving me a taste of deadlines and setting priorities while keeping up with my devotions and maintaining the home fires.
Blessings ~ Wendy ❀
It’s a good reality check to see just how much is demanded of best selling authors. I hadn’t considered all they have to do to “stay on top,” and all the added demands on their time as people want more of them.
I don’t know the names of many best selling authors. But, I’ve enjoyed Tom Clancy books. I think the authors I read the most are mid-list authors. 🙂
I think scheduling time and keeping disciplined with it would be a challenge. With two elementary aged kiddos at home, balancing everything work-related with all the boys need from me would be a challenge.
Tamela, this is going back a while but one of my favorite authors is Og Mandino. His books continued to sell over the long term. It is like an “oldie but goodie”. In music, no one really knows which new release will become a classic that continues to sell many years in the future. It is the same with books.
I have read current bestselling authors but they haven’t stuck with me in the same way. I didn’t feel I had a big “takeaway” as a result of investing the time. I felt I could pick out spots that an editor wanted to “make this longer” or “add this in here” and such. I could feel the uncomfortable dread of “pure filler ahead”” in certain passages. I prefer an author that genuinely speaks from their heart and soul with
pure genuine honesty and passion over predictable formulaic reproductions of “what is hot now” that I find on the market.
Being a veteran of numerous high stakes-high pressure endeavors in the past I have zero apprehension of any of the four points that you elucidated. I have long ago developed excellent coping strategies for each of them. There is however a “biggie” that was not included that many people may agree can be quite infuriating.
That is when you have met every commitment. You have had outstanding performance which is reflected in spectacular sales and everything you agreed to do occurred within the agreed upon time frame. Many times this may have been at great personal cost or sacrifice to yourself or family. And then…….. here comes the flakes.
Others involved in one way or another do not deliver on their commitment. They are never on time, they don’t pay when due, they take your creativity for granted, especially if they think “you really need THEM”. You have made them a fortune in the past but they continue to reduce what they will pay now while still expecting stellar performance. I could go on but you get the idea.
I guess this could loosely be construed as a type of “burnout” but it isn’t with any of the four points exhibited above. The work, sales, schedule or personal burnout. It would be with some of the people you are dealing with and their unreliability, arrogance, smugness. know it all attitude and outright dishonesty among other things.
I have recently been asked for more work product from an entity that I have worked with on more than one project in the past. I can tell that they are certain with themselves that they will get the deal they are seeking with me. Based on past performance they know what results they can expect. Little do they know that I have no intention of giving them one more minute of my work product. We are in the period of time for me to consider their contract solicitation. This time, regardless of the funds already offered I am not going to lift a finger to earn them another cent. Yes, this will cost me too but, in light of what they consider a “fair” sharing on the revenue I will bring in it will cost them many times more. I wish them no ill will. I would pray that someday they could see themselves.
So are the ways of everyone who is greedy for gain. It takes away the life of its owners
Well, my posts started arriving again and what a great one to start with. I couldn’t possibly have one favorite as so many friends are best selling authors and I love all their books.
I have noticed that one of my former favorites who had top sales no longer grabs my interest because it seems that her books now are too predictable and much the same. Coming up with new ideas, strong plots and wonderful characters time after time can get to be quite a challenge, and I admire those who are able to do it.
I love writing, and keep at it even without deadlines looming.
Jason M. Karampatsos
Your first question is a tough one to answer. How in the world could I chose just ONE bestselling author as my favorite! There are quite a few, but the one who has recently spoken the most into my life is Mark Batterson.
His books are great, but his discipline to writing has helped me the most. He battles #3 on a much bigger scale them I am currently confronted with, but I have borrowed some of his personal practices where I can. Each fall he goes “underground” (as he calls it) until January to focus on writing. He takes very few appointments and schedules very few speaking engagements during this season. This helps him to stay focused while writing, but at the same time have time and energy for his family. Mark frequently says that he wants those who know him the most to respect him the greatest and to be famous is in his own home.
I enjoyed your post, but I have no idea if I’m a “bestselling author” or not. By your definition – maybe. I certainly have plenty of deadlines. lol. I know that I’m grateful for the work and count it as a real blessing to be able to do this thing I love.
It’s been interesting to read everyone’s responsese. For me, personally, I’d have to say #4 is the hardest, and here is why – BALANCE. Everytime I think I achieve it, something knocks me out of left field. Keeping the main things (faith, health, family, writing) the main things is always a challenge.