The idea for this post came to me after I was reading an article on Medium about the phrase overnight success.
I have always been intrigued by the term and the notion that success JUST happens to authors. Surely there is more to overnight literary fame than meets the eye? Once you type this myth into Google you can expect to see an array of interesting articles and blog posts on the subject.
The article on Medium talks about how ‘in reality, overnight success exists, but only as the tip of an iceberg.’
So, I got excited and thought some more about how published or self published books are the tip of the iceberg, which rises out of the water and there’s so much more going on underneath the water.
I decided to pull together a list of all the things you don’t see when you buy a book. This is the stuff that hides well below the surface.
For noting: I have catered for both traditional publishing and self publishing journeys.
- Several books written prior to the one you are reading. Even if the author was unpublished prior to this one, it is unlikely that the book you are holding will be the first novel they’ve written.
- The author leaping about with joy, after receiving a spark of inspiration for a new book idea.
- The idea for the book starting to grow and take shape inside the author’s brain.
- Hours spent by the author daydreaming about their new book idea.
- Pages of scribbled notes on the idea, once it has grown too big for the author’s head.
- Endless cups of coffee or tea drank by the author, whilst sat staring blankly at their notes and asking themselves “can I turn this into something?”
- Hours of book research on their chosen subject. This will be composed of buying books, Google searches, listening to podcasts, listening to interviews, watching films, talking to people, interviewing subject matter experts, reading blog posts….
- The author’s attempt at a first draft.
- An emotional breakdown at 30k words on the first draft. Whilst sobbing and wedging slabs of chocolate into their mouth, the author will ask themselves “can I find a way to carry on?”
- Reading tweets, posts and message from supportive writer friends urging the author to carry on and not give up.
- The joy and elation once the author has finished their first draft.
- Hours of self doubt and imposter syndrome.
- The look of horror and disgust when the author takes out their first draft, after resting it, and spots ten things wrong with the first page.
- Hours spent on social media networking with other writers and authors.
- Hours spent feeling envious of authors who are celebrating eye-watering book deals.
- Months spent rewriting and revising it until it doesn’t resemble their original draft.
- Hours of procrastination spent by the author watching Netflix, staring at the cracks in the kitchen wall, buying notebooks, tweeting and spring cleaning their house.
- The excitement experienced when the author sends out their draft for an initial review. This also includes hours of daydreaming and visualising their reviewers reading their draft with faces of pure joy!
- The many tears shed by the author when the feedback returns and they realise their draft novel needs a lot more work.
- The months spent revising it and sending it back out for review. This cycle of review and then revise can go on for months and sometimes years.
- Tears shed over their first paragraph which still doesn’t sound right after six hundred revisions.
- The challenging search for an agent and sending out query letters. This will also include hours of daydreaming and visualising the agent with a face of delight whilst reading their draft.
- The pain and suffering experienced when the author is inundated with rejections.
- Hours spent listening to podcasts and YouTube interview clips where famous authors talk about how they endured years of rejection before they had success.
- The amount of wine, cheese, chocolate and ice-cream consumed by the writer in order to numb the pain of rejection.
- The summoning of inner strength to carry on in the face of literary adversity.
- Reading and replying to emails, tweets and DM’s of support from writer friends urging them to carry on.
- The days, months and years spent revising the book and sending it out to more agents.
- Hours spent feeling elated about getting an amazing agent.
- Hours spent by the self published author choosing a book cover designer and wading through potential designs.
- The tough times going through agent edits and getting their book polished.
- Securing book deal and going through endless cycles of edits while working with editors.
- The sleepless nights and the nightmares about whether anyone will read your book.
- Time spent setting up Amazon profile and perfecting a good author photo.
- The launch of your book and still wondering whether anyone will buy it.
I am sure there might be some points I have missed out, so please let me know and I can add them into my list.
If you are thinking about purchasing a book today, stop and think for a moment about what has gone into producing that book.
Remember the book is just the tip of the iceberg!
Have a great day!