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Tuesday, September 6, 2011

How to Become A Best -Selling Author (or at least a published one)

All right, I am going to once again out myself and say, at the moment, I am not a published author (unless of course you count many, many newspaper and magazine articles and columns).

I am an ASPIRING novelist. I have scaled one tall wall by getting an agent, and now the next step is for her to convince a throng of folks at a publishing company that not only is my book a winner, but that I am as well.

Trying to turn yourself into a winner I am seeing is more than a part-time job. It is taking on the effort and hours of full-time unpaid employment. Kind of like being a full-time parent was for me for many, many years. Only this time the only messes I have to clean up are my own.

I am commenting on blogs, writing blogs, on Twitter, (follow me! @candacelhammond) making myself a complete nuisance on Facebook, and just in general thinking about building my "brand" all the time. If I have one true friend left after all this shameless self-promotion I will be eternally grateful and will buy that poor sod a cup of coffee and a cupcake (or piece of pie depending on their preference).

What I find fascinating about this process is that by the very nature of what we do, writers are fairly solitary folks. Yet, we are needing to become increasingly social beings as we try to promote not just our work but ourselves. I have not yet found my comfort level with the "look at me! look at me!" nature of this. Perhaps writers need doppelgangers who are the outgoing glad-handing politician-types we aren't, and they can go and work a crowd while we hide behind our laptops and make things up.

The book, "How I Became a Famous Novelist," I have pictured here is one of my all-time favorites. Steve Hely - a veteran writer of the "Late Show With David Letterman," and now "The Office," where he is also a producer, created a hugely funny, smart and engrossing tale of a man scheming to become a best-selling novelist. It is an incisive look at the world of books and no matter how many times I read it I still laugh.

Being a best selling author isn't easy. In this piece the author outlines the endless effort it truly is. As I read it I wanted to rest my head on my keyboard and weep. But she's right. Lots of people say they want to write a book, some even do. But it takes a whole other level of commitment, luck and a dash of insanity to think you could ever take it to the next level. All that and a knowledge that there's nothing else you'd rather do than sit alone in front of a glowing screen and try to string together groups of words in an entertaining fashion.

The drive to do this sometimes feels like a sickness of sorts. But for those of us who are infected the only treatment is to write, and for that desire I seek no cure.

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