That dreaded “What do you do?” question. We’ve all experienced it. Some of us have no problem with it, if our jobs are in well-respected fields that make decent money, therefore allowing no one the opportunity to judge or condemn them. Others of us don’t loathe this question, exactly, but just brace ourselves for a buttload of questions that stem from ignorance or misunderstanding.
My job thrives on this question because despite all the technological advances, word of mouth is still the best form of advertising books. I’ve given away several business cards by answering the “What do you do?” question honestly. But there are generally two types of reactions, I’ve noticed, when I mention I’m a published author…
Reaction #1: “You’re published?? THAT’S SO FREAKING COOL. I can’t believe I’m standing in the presence of someone who is a real author!!!” (These people are nice because they can’t tell you the difference between indie or traditional, and don’t really care either way)
Reaction #2: (After blinking a few times) “Oh…how nice. What else do you do?”
Luckily I don’t get that response too often. Sometimes my insecurities cause me to wonder if people are secretly thinking it, especially when I’m asked this question by my husband’s colleagues in the medical field. But a self-made writing career can’t logically be compared to corporate jobs; it’s apples to kangaroos. I don’t do what I do to make money. I know I’m not always taken seriously when I talk about reading young adult books as “research” and using social media for marketing. But that is what I do; I accept it and own it.
I prefer the first kind of response because it allows me the luxury of pretending to be a bigger deal than I actually am. But both reactions can be irritating in their own way. Response #1 requires a full-fledged explanation of how the publishing industry works – that really, anyone with a computer can be an author these days, but not every author can sell books. Response #2, should you take the bait, requires an explanation of how YOUR choice of publishing works.
I don’t know how other authors do it, but over time I cultivated a routine that works for me. I wake up between 7 and 9, usually. Feed the kittens. Make coffee and read for about half an hour. Make breakfast, catch up reading blogs. Shift to working on novel (when there is a novel to work on, that is; I’m now in that “What do I do now?!” phase since Shades of Doubt has been sent to the publisher).
In between chapters I take breaks for that boring household stuff: putting up laundry, scooping the litter boxes, emptying the dishwasher, vacuuming, folding the laundry, cleaning one of the bathrooms. After lunch is my “marketing hour” where I go to various social media outlets (for me, it’s Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and Linked In) and share blog links, engage with readers/followers, share other people’s links. I also have a stack of books about marketing and will read those for an hour with a cup of coffee, which counts as “homework.” Then back to writing. My next project, until another book idea comes along, is submitting essays to magazines that pay for accepted submissions.
All of this encompasses a typical 8-hour workday. Netflix does NOT get turned on until after dinner: my personal rule. It’s taken several months, but even if I don’t sell a book every day, rarely a day goes by that I don’t earn new followers, shared content, or tidbits from other writers. Sure, I could use another part-time job to supplement income, but the only person running this business is me: if I don’t devote 110% of my time to it, it will never grow into something that supports more than just my Starbucks addiction.
So to everyone who assumes that writers write for fame and money (lolz, WHAT fame? WHAT money??), please get your facts straight: I’m a writer so I can work at my own pace, making my own career decisions, in my pajamas.