What's Life Really Like as a Published Author?

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

Occasionally when I'm out at appointments or other events, people will stop me and ask something like, "How's life as a published author these days?"

Of course, I almost always answer with something profound like, "Good."

Every now and then I'll add a nugget of insight like, "I'm keeping busy" or "It's a lot of fun."

As you can tell, I'm bubbling with information about published author life.

The trouble is, there really is no easy answer. And since I don't want to go into great detail with most people, I give pat answers.

But today, on my blog, I decided to give the more complicated answer about what life as a published author is like—at least what life is like for me (because every author will have their own story—pun intended!).

After several years of writing under contract, I'm definitely in a different spot than I was when I first got my agent and book deal back in 2009. I've learned a ton about the industry and grown a lot as a writer.

So what's life really like? In what ways have I adjusted to life as a published author?

On a personal level?

My writing isn't something that I do in my spare time anymore. I've had to come to grips with the realization that I'm a working mom with a home writing business. I try to set regular work hours and stick to them.

I've also come to realize that I can't be supermom. I can't keep up with the housework, cooking, and all the other responsibilities that come with being a mom AND still have time to write. I've had to delegate, accept help, and give up some of my expectations.

I've also had to let go of many of my previous outside commitments. I can't be as involved with friends, groups, or activities. I have to limit where I go and what I do.

Overall, I've set personal boundaries, and in doing so I've been able to reduce the stress in my life. Because of the boundaries, I can enjoy both my family and my writing—which are my two top priorities.

On a professional level?

I've realized that being an author isn't a road to instant fame. As I go about town on business, nobody stops me for autographs. In fact, I doubt most of the strangers I pass even know I'm an author. Sometimes acquaintances will ask me questions about being an author or let me know they've read one of my books. Closer friends occasionally ask me how things are going. But overall, life goes on as usual without much hoopla.

I've also realized that the income is slow and steady. My publisher only sends out royalty checks twice a year. And while my books have earned royalty, it hasn't been nearly enough for a family of seven to live on. I'm hoping that as I continue to build a readership, my income will continue to grow. But I've learned that building a readership takes time too.

Finally, I've come to understand that there is a LOT more to being an author than just writing books. There are many other responsibilities that take time. I'm my own secretary, administrative assistant, travel agent, researcher, editor, publicist, marketer, as well as writer. If I want something done, I have to do it. Plain and simple. I'm the manager of my business. I'll only get as much out of it as I put in.

The pay off in my writing career hasn't been in fame and fortune. Rather it's come in the form of hearing from readers and knowing they're enjoying my stories. Each email, facebook comment, or tweet warms my heart.

The other payoff is in the incredible satisfaction I find in the process of writing. I truly love spinning together stories. I can go places, do things, and be a part of adventures and lives in ways that just aren't possible in my real life.

So what's published author life really like?

It's nothing like I imagined. But it's definitely fulfilling!

Maybe the answer is simple after all. It's good. Real good.

What about you? Writers, what's the writing life been like for you? Is it what you expected? And readers, are you surprised by any of the realities of published author life?

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