Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Author Life: Charmed or Cliché? A Guest Post by Laura McNeill

It is a huge pleasure to have Laura McNeill on my blog. I have known Laura for a couple of years through her women's fiction, and we've recently forged a strong connection because of the parallel paths our writing have taken--women's fiction to suspense; from light to dark. I was so lucky to snag a copy of Center of Gravity at BEA this past May, and the buzz has been incredible. Today Laura is talking about the 5 clichés of being an author and the real truth behind the writing life.

Welcome, Laura!

The Author Life:  Charmed or Cliché?

Laura McNeill

When I was younger, I often dreamed about the glamorous life of being an author. Touring different cities, signing books, and attending launch parties. It seemed that many writers live a charmed life, with articles appearing in the New York Times, interviews in glossy magazines, and their books being turned into movies.

Enter college, grad school, family, children, and a career. Enter reality.

Now that I am a working author, I see the writer life in a brand new way. Granted, the publishing world has changed dramatically, and the marketplace is full to bursting with new authors publishing books every day. So is the author life really charmed? Or are writers being challenged to juggle a few dozen tasks at once, the most important of which is writing the next novel… and the next?

Here’s a look at 5 clichés and the real story behind them!

1. The Author Life is Glamorous

I can’t speak for everyone, but most of my friends who are published authors also hold down a full-time job (myself included). To keep things exciting, or because I have simply lost my mind, I added in another master’s degree last year (Hello, graduation July 31st!). Those who are lucky enough to stay home and write full time are often busy with caring for children or their parents.

That said, the writing itself is a solitary job. I stay in my yoga pants and a t-shirt and type in my tiny office, sipping coffee that I made myself. I like to write in the morning until 8 am, when I spring up from my chair and race to grab a shower, find decent clothes, and get to work. In the evenings, it’s Mommy-mode, and I help with homework, take my boys to activities, or do homework.


2. There’s a Road Map for Success

Even if you are with a large publishing house, and deadlines are put in place for editing, revising, and feedback, ultimately, you are the captain of your own destiny. You decide when and where you write, if you write everyday, and you decide how many words you add to your manuscript. The road map for success is yours to map, alone.

Like I mentioned, I write in the mornings. I get up between 5:30 am and 6, make coffee, boot up my laptop, and get writing. On weekends, my schedule is to be a little more flexible with my boys, but I generally get some writing in, spend time on social media or my blog, and try to squeeze in time with friends.

And then, life happens. There’s a crisis at work, one of my boys forgets his lunch, or I have a flat tire. In those moments, it’s okay to drop everything. As an author, you have to be able to step back, take a deep breath, and keep going.


3. Marketing is Not Your Job

Though everyone would love to believe that published authors have a team of marketers at their beck and call, nothing could be further from the truth. I do have a lovely and experienced marketing guru at Thomas Nelson/ HarperCollins, but it’s her job to take care of a dozen other authors as well.

While I was lucky enough to get an advance for Center of Gravity, I spent the majority of one of my checks on an outside publicist to help spread the word about the novel. (Waves to Sarah Miniaci with Smith Publicity). She and I work hard with the in-house team at Thomas Nelson to coordinate publicity efforts. We have a weekly phone call and constantly brainstorm ideas for guest posts, opportunities for interviews, and laugh a lot about our lack of free time.

In the past three months leading up to Center of Gravity’s July 14th release, aside from Sarah and my in-house marketing director’s work, I have talked to bloggers, reviewers, Tweeted, posted on Facebook, reviewed friends’ books, written dozens of blog posts, and scheduled book signings. Yes, my head is spinning. In the end, fingers crossed, it will all be worth it.


4. The Reviews Will Roll In

One thing that I’ve learned as an author in this crazy business, is that no one has to publish reviews. Bloggers are extremely busy, they have their own lives, their own children, and other books to review.

I have met some amazing bloggers and reviewers in the past several years, and am amazed and awed at their generosity. I’ve become close friends with many of them, and I treasure those connections.

If I can offer any advice when asking for reviews, it is this:  Be polite, be respectful, and if a blogger doesn’t like your book, or can’t post the review…let it go. Unless you walk in another person’s shoes, you don’t know what is happening in that person’s life. Be grateful for the reviews you do receive. And say thank you.



5. You’ll hit the bestseller list

Though I had big, glamorous, dreams when I was younger, I write because I love it. I adore crafting stories, I am fascinated with story structure and revisions, I adore talking to book clubs, I love to read, and am awed by the talent of my author friends.

I do not expect to hit the NYT bestseller list out of the gate (though that would be incredible!) and I don’t do this job anticipating I’ll be able to buy a house in the Bahamas next week.

As Ernest Hemingway is reported to have said, “It is easy to write. Just sit in front of your typewriter and bleed.”

So, what are the clichés you’ve heard about the author life?  Any you care to add?

Laura's book, Center of Gravity, releases today from Thomas Nelson, and I cannot wait to dive in!
About the Author:

Laura adores hot coffee, good manners, the color pink, and novels that keep her reading past midnight. She believes in the beauty of words, paying it forward, and that nerds rule the world. Laura is a fan of balmy summer nights, fireflies, and pristine mountain lakes. She lives in Mobile, Alabama with her two sons.

You can find Laura Tweeting @Lauramcneillbks and blogging at lauramcneill.com. After July 14th, Laura’s suspense novel, Center of Gravity, can be found wherever fine books are sold.

Buy Center of Gravity!





  1. Thank you so much, Sam, for hosting me on your blog! I had so much fun writing the article and researching what was MOST important to share! I hope everyone finds it humorous and useful! xxx, Laura

  2. It was a fantastic post! Thanks so much for being here, Laura!

  3. Laura, I like the way you write. You can have a great future if you start working as an academic writer. Don't you ever think of it?
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  4. I have never thought of writers to have a charming life. Quite some time passes by before a writer becomes famous. Thank you very much for sharing the article though. I enjoyed it greatly. If you need a paper on Top Influential Books in the World or any other type of work a student might be assigned to work on, feel free to apply for help online.

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