Tag Archives: stephen king

The Author Package

In the world we live in today, authors have to be more than just writers.

Readers want to have more than just a name on a book spine.  They want to know more about the person behind the writing.  It’s illustrative of our culture today.  As consumer, readers and viewers, we have access to everything, to everyone.  Even the most elite film stars can’t hide behind billboards anymore – they are papped in the streets, stories told to tabloids about them, and given their say on Twitter.

But consumer-interest isn’t just reserved for film and TV stars any more.  Readers want to know about authors, and the paragraph at the back of the book just doesn’t go dig deep enough!  Readers not only want to know about the author behind the books, they want to communicate with them. And increasing numbers of top authors are bowing to the demand, there are a number of prolific authors who are very candid with their readers.  For example –

Neil Gaiman is an avid tweeter, and a keeps a regularly updated blog.

Maureen Johnson communicates freely and very honestly with her readers and has a beautiful website and blog.

Lauren Kate keeps over 13,000 fans updated on her book tours over Twitter, and a regular and very personal blog with personal photos, annecdotes, and interestingly open polls for tour destinations.

Twitter and blogs are also an increasingly popular way for upcoming authors to advertise their work.  A number of novice authors, self-published authors, and those who have just signed contracts with publishers use social media to make names for themselves, forge fan-bases, and advertise their new work.

Finally there’s the third tier of authors – the almost-there crew, much like myself – who are represented, but don’t have book deals yet.  Here I think social media becomes a bit of an experiment.  You don’t have anything concrete to advertise, but social media instead provides a forum for discussion, self-growth, and the opportunity to trial your work on complete strangers.

Interestingly, the only authors who seem to be shying away from providing the ‘full author package’ are those at the very very top.  Those, whose name alone sells.

John Grisham steers clear of both Twitter and blogging, and Stephen King last posted on his blog in 2009.

Whilst ‘Queen Rowling’  as she’s been called this week DOES have an official Twitter account,  4 of the only 6 messages she’s ever tweeted are variations of the same statement – ‘This is the real me, but you won’t be hearing from me often I’m afraid, as pen and paper are my priority at the moment.’

Also Twilight’s Stephenie Meyer has over 50,000 followers on Twitter, but has only ever tweeted twice!

C-C xx

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The Ladder to the Top

Following on from my post about The Author Brand, I thought it might be an inspiration to others to collate some information about some of the world’s most famous authors, and their paths to success.   Today I’ve focussed on rejections by agents and publishers.

The ladder to the top can be a long and treacherous one, and it seems not even the most successful authors made it to the summit unscathed!

J.K. Rowling

‘Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone’ was rejected by twelve different publishers before Bloomsbury finally took it on, and only then on the advice of the CEO’s eight-year old daughter!

John Grisham

Grisham penned his first novel, the iconic ‘A Time to Kill’ whilst legally representing a 12 year-old rape victim.  After three years writing the famous tale, Grisham was rejected by over thirty publishing houses before Wynwood Press finally cut him a break.

Stephen King

Stephen King took the rejection of his first novel ‘The Long Walk’ so badly, even though he only submitted it to one publisher, that he gave up on the story all together.

Meg Cabot

The bestselling author of ‘The Princess Diaries’ faced rejection after rejection for three years before finding a publisher.   She admits to having kept every single rejection letter in a giant U.S. postal bag which is so heavy she can’t even lift it!   And editors didn’t hold back with their criticism… one particularly scathing review stated that ‘The Princess Diaries’ wasn’t suitable for children.  Try telling that to the millions of children who have since bought the books and watched the movies!

William Golding

‘Lord of The Flies’ was rejected twenty times before being published.  One editor actually described it as ‘an absurd and uninteresting fantasy which was rubbish and dull’!  Oops!

(The Diary of )Anne Frank

One publisher rejected the iconic journal because ‘The girl doesn’t, it seems to me, have a special perception or feeling which would lift the book above the ‘curiosity’ level.’

Joseph Heller

Apparently Catch-22 was originally entitled ‘Catch-18’ but Heller increased the number with each rejection letter! One of the ‘best rejection’ it received said ‘Apparently the author intends it to be funny – possibly even satire – but it is really not funny on any intellectual level …’

George Orwell

Four publishers rejected the iconic ‘Animal Farm’, including famous poet T.S. Elliot.  Elliot criticised Orwell’s ‘Trotskyite politics’, whilst another editor simply stated ‘It is impossible to sell animal stories in the USA’!

Harper Lee

‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, one of my favourite novels, was rejected by J.B. Lippincott Company because it ‘had too many short stories strung together, and needed to be rewritten’.

On a similar note, a few years ago the director of the Jane Austen Festival decided to find out what sort of reception Jane herself might get, had she been an author in this day and age.  With only a few minor changes, David Lassman submitted the opening chapters and plot synopses to three of Austen’s most famous books – Pride and Prejudice, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion – to publishers and agents. He submitted the books under early titles which Austen had once considered, and used the pen name ‘Alison Laydee’, a play on Austen’s nom de plume ‘ A Lady’.

Despite not even changing the opening line of Pride & Prejudice – one of the most famous lines in literature – only one editor noticed the plagiarism!  And EVERYONE else rejected ALL of Austen’s work.

I realise that possibly says more about the lack of education of those we’re pinning our hopes to at the moment, than anything else … but it also shows that even literary genius can go unnoticed in today’s harsh market!  So don’t get too disheartened by the rejection emails … we’ll get there in the end 😉

As another of my favourite childhood authors, C.S. Lewis, once said … ‘Failures are fingerposts on the road to achievement.’

C-C xx

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