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What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Being An Author?

3 Answers

Louise Gorman Profile
Louise Gorman answered
Being an author is extremely enjoyable if you have a good imagination and it is what you want to do. But, it is extremely difficult to get a publishing deal, as there is so much competition.

If you are lucky enough to be published, then like with every job, there will always be moments when it isn't as enjoyable. There's the issue of writer's block, and sitting down and thinking up a whole story can be quite a daunting task and takes a lot of effort, but that's where imagination comes in.

Authors manage to overcome these problems though, and the main advantages are that they get to see people enjoying the work that they have produced, and they get to see their name in print, which must be very rewarding!
Bil Nutt Profile
Bil Nutt answered
With one play and a couple of hundred newspaper/magazine articles to my credit, here's one answer.

Advantages: 
  • Not having to conform to a 9-to-5 routine.
  • Being able to use your imagination and creativity.
  • Reaching an audience.
  • Receiving constructive criticism.

Disadvantages: 
  • Worrying about having enough money for things like food, shelter, clothing, etc. 
  • Realizing that being an original writer is quite a challenge.
  • Finding a market for your work.
  • Receiving criticism from people who don't have a clue as to what you are trying to achieve.
  • Competing for attention in a world with hundreds of other writers, to say nothing of such distractions as TV, the Internet and movies.
  • Maintaining the spark of creativity and imagination.

Neil Gaiman once put it this way: "Having written something is wonderful. Getting ready to write is fun. But actually writing is incredibly difficult."

That said, nothing - believe me, nothing - matched the feeling when I saw the published copies of my play. And seeing my by-line on an article (especially one I take pride in) still gives me a kick.

Hope this helps!
Melinda Moore Profile
Melinda Moore , Writer, currently working on debut novel to be published in early 2014., answered

I think the advantages of being an author, unless you are very, very successful, are probably greater when you're imagining them - having not yet seriously tried to write a book - than they are in practice!

I know I used to think, as a child, that being an author must be the best career in the world, and that I would be able to just sit at a table, imagine a story, and then keep typing until I had the whole thing written down.


I didn't imagine any plotting, or editing, or re-writes. Nothing like that. The story would just flow out of me, as if by magic.

Then - also in my imagination - I would find a literary agent very easily, and he or she would love my book and sell it for an enormous advance. Then it would become a best-seller, and I'd write another, just as easily as the first.

If I'm honest, I think I wanted to be what I imagined an author was, rather than the reality of being one! Or, rather, I wanted to be a writer, but I didn't really want to do the work that accompanied it.

In my mind's eye, when I was grown up, and a "proper writer", I would sit at a beautiful, tidy desk, looking out of a window at a gorgeous sea-view, and "thinking things up in my head".

On the basis of this ambition, I wrote hundreds of stories and poems as a child, all of which were uniformly terrible. My family and friends all said they were wonderful, but they lied.

I continued in this vein as a teenager, as well as in my early twenties, and widened my approach to include writing abysmal love poetry about boys who had broken my heart.

Basically, now I was committing the sin of writing as therapy - which is fine, if therapy is all you want, but hopeless if you actually want to find a readership that doesn't already know and like you, so they have no choice but to read your work. And then tell you that they loved it.

Anyway, once I stopped getting my heart broken so often, I then started several novels, but abandoned them too, when the first few chapters didn't turn out as I'd imagined they would. (I can confirm that they were all awful, anyway, having re-read them recently.)

So what changed?

Fast-forward through twenty years, two children and two university degrees, and here I am, having already had short stories and poetry published (even though I thought they were dreadful, too). 

Even more surprisingly, now I'm two-thirds of the way through my first novel, which is due to be published in early 2014, with a second to follow six months later.

I've been short-listed for several awards for a blog I wrote, as well, but nothing makes any difference - I still think my writing is terrible, and that everything I've written could have been much, much better, had I worked just a little harder on it than I did.

So how does it feel to an author, to have a book deal at last?

Now I work 12-18 hour days on my book, juggling that with a demanding, though interesting job, and not paying any attention to any of my family, because I am trying to "live" inside my novel, so that I don't forget where I am going with it.

My advance was pretty good, given the current literary climate, I have a wonderful agent, editor and publicist, and a brilliant publisher, who all intend to do a great job marketing the book. 

I know, too, that these things make me very lucky, and are what every writer dreams of having, yet I'm as miserable as sin. My desk is a mess, and the sea view remains a dream.

So how can getting a book deal not seem as if it's an advantage to an author?

Sometimes it is hard to feel as if any of the good things about the book deal are really happening, because - at the end of the day - I still spend my life alone at my desk, wrestling with plot developments, living a fantasy life with a bunch of characters that I created, and totally unaware of what is going on outside my house!

Also, no sentence I ever write looks good enough to me, and I never stop worrying that my book might be a complete disaster. Therefore, a lot of my time is spent fretting, and not enjoying the experience at all.

Did I mention that a lot of authors are neurotic?

But there must be some advantages to being a writer, surely!

True - so, now I've told you in great detail about all the disadvantages of being an author, (in my experience so far), here are some of the things that I think really are advantages:

The greatest one has to be the feeling you get when someone else reads your work, and gets so involved with the characters you've created and the plot that you imagined, that they start to speak about them as if they were real.

That gives you an incredible buzz, but an even better feeling is when you make someone laugh out loud at something you've written (as long as you intended it to be funny), or something you wrote moved them, or made them care in some way about what happens next in the story.

 That's a fantastic feeling, when it happens.

Apart from the above, other benefits to being a writer that I've experienced are as follows:

  • Some other writers (though by no means all) can be incredibly supportive and encouraging, and I've been surprised to find that, the more successful they are, the more generous they seem to be with their encouragement of other, less-successful writers. I've been treated with great kindness by some very high-profile authors, even though I've never met most of them.
  • You can work any time, anywhere - and in your pyjamas, if you choose. It doesn't matter what you look like, or what you wear - until it comes to marketing your book, anyway!
  • You have complete control over what your characters do, and what happens in the story - or, at least, you do until the characters take over and you suddenly find yourself realising that "John wouldn't say that", or "Anne would never do a  thing like that"!
  • There's no retirement age for writers - which is a good thing in a recession, and when people are being expected to continue working far later in life than they did before
  • You sit down to write. This ties in with the benefit mentioned above. My legs tire quite easily enough already, and I dread to think how it would be to be 65 or older, and to have to stand up all day in a shop to earn your living
  • You have to read a lot, in order to write well - and read widely, too. I love reading, so this is a definite advantage!
  • The company of other writers. This isn't always a good thing, but most writers are interesting people, albeit they can be difficult and temperamental, too.
  • Readers. Readers are wonderful!
  • You get a chance to communicate with people from many countries and all walks of life, and to share your ideas and thoughts, via your work, with them.

And, finally - and I think this may be what motivates many writers - you get to leave something behind when you die, to make your mark, however small, on the world you're leaving behind. 

Even after you're dead, your book might still sit on someone's bookshelf, and they might pick it up and read something you wrote years before...

(I'm not sure this will still be true once print books stop being published, and all there are are e-books, though!)

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