Writing Tips

#SATurday: Authors, Be Yourself

#SATurday: Authors, Be Yourself

As an author—but also as a marketer—I am constantly stressing the importance of being true to yourself and being true to your work. For instance, it’s a popular question to ask an author how long it took them to write a story. In turn, this has caused millions of debates about how long it should take. The infamous Stephen King, for example, has been quoted saying that writing a first draft shouldn’t take longer than three months, the length of a season. And to that, I say, pish posh. (Respectfully, of course.)

To me, it is ALWAYS more important to be true to the story than to meet a deadline. I mean, George R.R. Martin practically dedicated his life to writing A Song of Ice and Fire (a.k.a. Game of Thrones for you HBO fans), and he’s labeled as a serial fantasy genius. His first draft, I doubt, only demanded three months. But he didn’t care. All he cared about was writing it, so he wrote it, and he took as much time as he wanted to write it.

So what does this have to do with you?

Well, I see a lot of authors getting frazzled over writing advice or reading discussions or publishing debates or marketing tips or (insert panic now as I continue listing uncountable reasons for authors to worry). And it isn’t worth it. None of these worries are worth an author’s identity. Be you. That’s my number one rule when I talk to my clients about social media marketing as we create a plan for them. As an example, if you hate Facebook, stay off of it. There’s no reason you should be worrying yourself silly about likes and shares and outreach when you could be on Twitter with your favorites and retweets and hashtags. There’s no reason you should be throwing your precious writing time away for all the millions of things the Internet demands you to do, because—I’ll let you in on a little secret—no one can do it all. No one. So, it’s better to just do what you want to do.


This doesn’t go to say that this is easy. It’s not. There are many temptations that sneak into our time slots. It’s easy to be on Facebook and see an author who has 10,000 more likes than you and feel like you have to do what they do in order to get to where they are. But we have to stop focusing on getting to “where they are” and start focusing on getting to “where you want to be”. I get it. That can be a little confusing, especially when you “want” to be where they are. Those 10,000 likes look nice after all. But those are THEIR 10,000 likes. Those exact same 10,000 likes are not going to be the 10,000 likes you want for you and your book. You want your own 10,000 likes—likes you achieve by being you. But this is exactly where I see a popular problem arise. Authors are so focused on getting “more” followers that they forget to dedicate time to the followers they already have. The goal is not followers. The goal is being yourself.

That being said, you can definitely have more goals and look up to someone—admire their work ethic, respect their status, learn from them, etc.—but remind yourself that you are going to achieve your own goals your own way, and there’s no need to copy what others are doing. As an example, one author kept sharing exactly what another author with a larger follower was sharing. That’s not going to work. That’s not going to do anything. Why? Here are three reasons:

  1. Someone is already doing it.
  2. You’re trying to be them, not you.
  3. You’re sharing it for the wrong reasons. (For followers, not because you enjoy it.)

You have to be you and do what you want to do. When you do that, you will come through as a unique and wonderful voice, and people who like you will find you. There’s no need to worry or debate or copy or steal or take shots at one another.

Just be you, and everything else will fall into place.


Thank you for the announcement, Boo Boo.
Thank you for the announcement, Boo Boo.

Are you a writer? As many of you know, I have guest bloggers every Monday. I accept original posts about anything to do with writing and reading. It can be as complicated as in-depth writing tips to as simple as how your favorite series affected your life. You do not have to be published to be a guest blogger. Bios, links, and photos are encouraged. Please email me at shannonathompson@aol.com if you’re interested.

38 thoughts on “#SATurday: Authors, Be Yourself

  1. Really needed to read this. I have a nasty habit of looking at other authors and their progress when my own seems to have slowed to a crawl. There always seems to be that question of ‘did I do something wrong?’ when I do this. Never had an answer for this and it gets frustrating when I can’t figure it out. There might not even be an answer.

  2. I love this advice. I just want to sit in my little room and write. I don’t want to even think about social media, etc. yet. I love to write and do it for myself. I tell the stories that I’d want to read. I find I’m much happier that way. Thank you for your blog. It keeps me sane! 🙂

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this article. 😀 I think writing is more important than forcing social media. I use social media a lot – but I enjoy it a lot – but I still think book 2 will make fans happier than tweets and Facebook posts that are forced.

  3. Very sound advice. Each and every person is unique. I have participated in NaNoWriMo 2 years in a row and loved it but I hear people grumble, “You can’t write a book in a month.” The purpose isn’t to write a publishable novel in a month. It took me a year to make my first manuscript publishable and the second I haven’t touched. One author may re-work and publish in 3 months another 10 years. Life factors and who a writer is should be the guiding factors.

    I love your social media piece too. I love social media and am very active at times. Other times I’m absent because I’m writing or editing and don’t want the distraction. It’s easy to get swept up in what other authors are doing.

    1. That is a great point about NaNoWriMo. I think many get too focused on the “write in one month” part and not the “write” part. It’s supposed to help people make extra time to meet their writing goals and to have fun. I’m glad you enjoyed this article about social media. 😀 Thank you for reading and commenting.

  4. Certain things should be de rigeur: setting up an author page on Amazon, and possibly Goodreads.

    Those will then become passive ads for your work – and not necessarily need much upkeep. But I find it irritating when an author doesn’t even fill in those obvious places.

    Everything else – there is only so much time in a day, and so much ability in an author to pretend to be an extrovert if she isn’t.

    My blog is where the attention will go first, and the new website for the books. I’m sure if you have lots of fans already, tweeting that your next book is out might be useful, but I don’t see how something tiny such as a new author’s first book is going to make any kind of a splash in the Twitter Universe.

    Thanks for being reassuring, though.

    1. Agreed! I actually think most pages should be set up – like a Facebook page – but you don’t have to force tons of posts on the main. It’s just good for a reader to be able to find you. Thank you for reading and commenting!

      1. Before publication is a good time to go around to all your public persona bits – what anyone can see – and clean them up. Just in case – much easier than doing it after.

        It’s on my (long) list. My blog is quite chatty – I think I’ll make sure it’s also ready for prime time.


  5. Thanks for this post. I’m always worried about how long it takes me to write. My average first draft takes 5-9 months. I spend years polishing a story. meanwhile my twin sister can finish a book (draft and edits) in a year. It’s frustrating, but I keep telling myself, I won’t be happy if I rush it. Lots of good advice in this post.

    1. I’m happy to hear you enjoyed it. 😀 Thank you for reading and for commenting. I think knowing your own pace and social media style is important – both for your readers and for your own sanity as a writer. :]

  6. Thanks for the empowering post. There is so much “do this, do that” out there that it can become overwhelming. Every once in a while, it’s wonderful to hear that being yourself is just fine.

  7. You’re so right! It’s way to easy to think you’re failing as a writer if you don’t produce a chapter in X days or a book in Y months. A quality story can’t be shoved through like a can of peaches in a factory.

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