**New Video** – Top 5 writing tips from A L Michael

You want to finish that novel, right?

You’ve been thinking about it for days, months, years?

You’re angry at yourself, and yet you’re never quite motivated enough to do it. Maybe it seems too hard, maybe you think you’re not good enough. Maybe there’s just not enough time.

Maybe you should watch my new video where I share the top 5 things I think are most important if you’re trying to finish that novel!

Share your own tips too, I’d love to hear what you think!




What’s all the Huhbub?

Today I’m SUPER excited to welcome my dear friend and events planner supreme, Sara Veal onto the blog. Sara runs Huhbub, and she’s here to tell us about books promotions, thinking outside the box, and what Prince has to do with vegan baking!

What is Huhbub?

Huhbub offers events and campaigns that contribute to the community, with a focus on literature, technology and performance.

Services include: website, book covers, shareables, editorial, marketing, publicity and connecting people. If you’re an author looking for some general advice, I’m very happy to help! Every question is an opportunity to widen what Huhbub can offer, I’m always interested in learning more about what authors and publishers need. I am also keen to help creative people get fairly paid work.

So far Huhbub has helped a certain kickass author (Hi, that’s me – Andi) launch a new book series with a noughties nostalgia event to fundraise for Core Arts, teamed with author Lisa Dickenson to bring her Strong Women Squad to life in event form (fundraising for Women’s Aid and Coppafeel!), and thrown Prince a vegan birthday bakeoff cabaret to fundraise for Code Club UK.

Who is the person/team behind Huhbub?

Huhbub is basically me, doing what I love most! Three years ago, I was working in commercial publishing, pregnant with my first child, and about to go on maternity leave when I learned that 50% of the jobs at my company were at risk. I chose voluntary redundancy rather than face the uncertainty of whether I would have a job to return to or not.

I wasn’t sure what to do but it seemed important to those around me that I had a plan, so I announced I would freelance in book marketing as soon as I was able to return to work. When my son was six months old, I began setting about to make this happen, and somehow Huhbub emerged from the baby fog. (I realise on reflection the name was to do with the baby burbling sounds he made as he was learning to speak!) I decided to set up a limited company rather than operate as a sole trader and the process of figuring out a company name, brand and business plan was challenging but fascinating, and helped me rediscover what I loved to do professionally, something that I had almost completely forgotten in the wake of becoming a mum.

I realised that what made me really passionate was finding new ways to market books (and ideas!), and to bring different circles of people together to provoke conversations. I feel one of the best ways of finding a book’s particular audience is to put on an event, whether in the form of an online competition or in a venue, and for the event to offer some kind of immersive experience of the book.

For example, rather than simply saying this book is the next Eleanor Oliphant blah blah blah, create an event that brings the experience of reading the book to life. At Atlantic Books, I created an immersive campaign for Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hr Bookstore, that helped it go from being an unknown debut to a Waterstones Book of the Month, and at Mills & Boon, I supported authors like Rebecca Raisin and Jenny Oliver with campaigns and events, from a design-a-bookshop online competition to a pie bakeoff at Paper Dress Vintage.

My first official Huhbub event was launching Goodbye Ruby Tuesday, which was about a group of girlfriends who came together in the Noughties, with the friends reuniting at a funeral 10 years on. So I brought it to life with an event that was nostalgic for the Noughties, specifically 2006, just before it became widespread to be nostalgic about the Noughties, so it was an interesting and rewarding challenge!

The event was at Drink, Shop & Do, with a real-life Ruby (Deshabille!) headlining, and we received donations from Imogen Heap and Wicked the Musical to aid fundraising for Core Arts, a charity that celebrates the healing power of creativity, a particular theme of the book.

I had to put Huhbub on pause when I found I was expecting my second child, but since her first birthday (in March), it’s been coming to life again with the aforementioned events with Lisa Dickenson and Code Club.

Huhbub is also all the fantastic people I have had the pleasure of working with on projects, past, present and future, such as authors, graphic designers, magicians and burlesque performers. I’m always looking for wonderful people to work with.

How did you get into this/career path?

I’ve had a pretty wiggly career path guided by necessity and curiosity… I began working in journalism before I started university, and throughout and afterwards I had all kinds of jobs, from writing copy for a romantic gifts website to working in the Archbishop of Canterbury’s international development. I’ve always been a huge bookworm, so my dream was to work in publishing, and seven years ago, thanks to recommendations from authors I interviewed as a journalist in Jakarta, I managed to get my foot in the door with a few internships in London, and I went on to get my first paid job at Atlantic Books, in sales and marketing. In everything I did, especially when I began working in e-books, I wished I had a better understanding of digital, so I began teaching myself to code when my son was six months old, which led to receiving a scholarship to train as a software developer at Makers Academy, Europe’s top coding bootcamp. I completed my training just before my daughter was born last March.

What’s all this about Prince?

Last week I threw Prince a vegan birthday bake-off cabaret for what would have been his 60th Birthday, at Makers Academy. I’ve always loved Prince but particularly in the year before I became a mum, I became completely enamoured with his music and was lucky enough to catch him twice during his 2014 Hit and Run tour – the last time he performed in the UK. Since that time, I have learned how empowering technology can be – my scholarship and coding journey opened up a whole new world for me, and made me hopeful and excited about life again. So when I discovered earlier this year that Prince was the inspiration for and supporter of YesWeCode, an initiative to train 100,000 low-opportunity youths to become high-level programmers, I was keen to celebrate his work and support similar work in the UK. I put together a Prince-themed vegan bake-off cabaret to fundraise and raise awareness for Code Club, which aims to serve 100,000 kids for free by the end of this year. My ambition was to bring as many different circles of people together in the making of it, and to provoke conversations on diversity and inclusivity in technology.

To support Code Club text PRPL76 £5 to 70070. (Can also donate £1, £2, £3, £4 and £10)

Also consider becoming a volunteer! If you already know how to code, at whatever level, it’s a great way to give back and inspire the next generation, if you know nothing it’s a great way to get started! Just volunteering for one hour a week would make such a difference to yourself, your community and the digital future of the UK.


Talk Code – what’s it all about?

Code is basically behind pretty much everything we use in the modern world, not just websites and video games, but the magic that happens when you press an Oyster card to a reader or switch on the TV. If you peeped behind the curtain so to speak, you would see what might seem to be some alien language, bringing life to inanimate objects.

Funnily enough, one of the books I worked on, Mr Penumbra’s 24 Hr Bookstore, is all about the magic of technology and further encouraged me to want to learn to code, although at the time, I didn’t seem to have the time to begin. The hardest part of learning to code is knowing where to begin really, because it’s such a vast landscape of coding languages, frameworks, concepts and jargon, and thankfully my training at Makers Academy was a great help with laying the foundations for learning.

I’m still very early in my coding journey, and have mostly been learning in Ruby, which is one of the best coding languages to begin with in terms of getting to grips with programming fundamentals. I’ve always loved writing and writing programs feels similar to writing stories. I also love the problem-solving that is essential to writing code. The key to progressing with learning to code is reading error messages and finding ways to resolve it.

My coding journey has accompanied some very trying times in my life, and I find that when I code, my mind gets a break from worrying and anxiety. It’s almost like meditating. I often compare coding to cooking, because people learn to cook by following recipes, you can find a recipe for almost anything on the Internet, the way you can find instructions for most kind of programs… the more recipes you try, the more you learn about cooking without them!


What is SWS?

Strong Women Squad was founded by author Lisa Dickenson, and is a movement to celebrate, inspire and empower women. The event opens with a dance class, and continues with lightning talks and performances from amazing women from different industries. We had the first SWS event RUN THE WORLD in March to honour International Women’s Day and to fundraise for Women’s Aid – and learn the moves to Beyonce’s Run the World!

This time we supported Coppafeel! The event will began with a dance class learning the moves to Shake it Off, taught by Louise Andree Douglas, possibly one of the best dance teachers and dancers in the world!

The atmosphere was intimate and supportive. Our speakers and performers are always women who inspire us. We ask those we invite to speak for 5-10 mins on a topic of their choosing, although we’re also happy to offer suggestions, or perform for a similar amount of time.

We aim to encourage first-timers along with more seasoned speakers and performers. At the first SWS, we had talks about the London Living Wage, juggling parenting with careers, entrepreneurship, breast cancer awareness and humanitarianism, and hula hoop performances.

I’m so proud of the line-up for the summer party. We themed it around body positivity and movement. Our speakers included Megan Jayne Crabbe (bodyposipanda), bestselling author of BODY POSITIVE POWER, Kirsten Bayes (outreach coordinator for Campaigns Against the Arms Trade), Gina Hood (President of Bloom, a network championing women in communications), Samantha Siren, The London Mermaid, and Hayat Rachi, CEO of NEON MOON (body positive lingerie). There was magic from Louise Douglas (on double duty!), member of all female magic supergroup Chicks n Tricks, a hula hooping workshop from Pearl the Whirl (one of Marawa’s Marjorettes) and fire from Amelia Sparkles. And biodegradable glitter-face painting from Glitterlution! It was so colourful and sparkly!

What other exciting stuff have you got lined up this year?

I’ll be running writing workshops at Larmer Tree Festival, and chairing a panel – HIDDEN HISTORIES AND HEROINES – featuring Jasper Fforde, Viv Groskop and Catherine Johnson, to mark the centenary of the women’s vote in the UK.

I’ve also recently been appointed a trustee for the Arkbound Foundation, a new charity committed to championing diversity and inclusivity in media and publishing, so I look forward to supporting them however I can and getting involved.

There’ll also be another edition of SWS in the autumn, and I’ve got a few other projects I’m looking forward to announcing as soon as I can.

Can authors hire you to do awesome events?

Yes please! Get in touch if you’d like to worth together, whether you need some advice, want help developing a campaign (of any scale) or collaborating on creating a fantastic event. Ask away, I’d love to hear from you!


A little update…

Hi all,

I haven’t been around as much to share on my blog or promote stuff as much as I should. Mainly because I’ve been writing. I write at my day job, I write on my lunch break, I listen to writing podcasts on the way to work, and I get home and I continue writing.

When people ask me how my evenings are, I have pretty much nothing to say.

Unless they want to know about conversations I’ve had with the people inside my head.

In my day job, I’m working in content marketing, and after years of listening to The Creative Penn, The SPF Podcast and many more, I know I need to get my mailing list in order – I also assume that most of you, like me, might explode if you hear about GDPR one more time.

So, a quick recap of what I’m up to and where you can find me:

  • I’ve discovered Medium – and I love it. Go there for articles about things that are on my mind. They might not always be writing, often it’s me being my little lefty self, outraged or sad about something or rather, but I hope they might make you think/smile.


  • I’m going to start using my email list as exciting things start to happen, and after listening to David Gaughran on the Creative Penn this morning, I’ve realised I need to give you guys more to thank you for being readers. That doesn’t mean more mail or random spam (honestly, I don’t even have the time). It means more tips about writing, more of my favourite reads, great resources and anything else you’d like to see from me! (Put requests in the comments, and sign up to the mailing list here.)


  • I’m going a couple of talks this summer, but not ones you might think! In July I’ll be talking at a school careers day (if you wanted to be a writer as a kid, raise your hand!) and at a WI meeting in August. I hope I have some insights to share!


  • Also in August, Martinis and Memories will be coming to a retailer near you. I’ll let you know when the pre-order is available. This is Bel’s story, and I hope you love finding out about her. If you want to get your Bel fix now, Cocktails and Dreams and Prosecco and Promises are both suuuuuuuper cheap right now.


  • I am working on something a little different at the moment for my agent! We’re going in a bit of a new direction, and I’ve got to tell you, I’m in love with this book. It’s about the power (and heartbreak) of female friendships and I’m totally obsessed with this story. If you’re following me on Twitter or Instagram you’ve probably seen me harping on about it. I’m submitting it in the summer, and I’ll keep you posted on the new writing from me.


  • The Martini Club series will be getting a bit of a rebrand, so keep your eyes out for it! Something exciting this way comes. Even more of a reason to sign up to the mailing list. (GDPR disclaimer even though not really necessary on this occasion – I won’t pass on your details, spam you, or even email you very much. Only when I have news or something useful to share!)


Have a wonderful evening everyone!



5 things to do when you feel like a crap writer

Suffering from comparisonitus_+joaquim

1. Remember that success looks different on everyone, it’s a long journey, and that social media so often skews what success looks like. Behind each success story is some drama, trauma or a fuckload of hard work and heartache, so you’re not alone, even if it seems that way.

2. Pay forward the love. I don’t often get jealous because I think (almost) everyone deserves the success they receive, but sometimes it’s inevitable. You can love a colleague or friend dearly, absolutely be so pleased for them and wish them the best, but a little voice might ask ‘why can’t I have that? I want that!’ That’s okay! It doesn’t make you a bad person. But just in case, why not write up some good reviews for those books you never got around to reviewing? Pay it forward to another writer, you never know when they’ll be needing a boost too.

3. Separate successes into different strands. Okay, I can’t buy a holiday with my royalties (just yet) but I achieved a whole bunch of stuff I wanted to do this year, including getting an agent, and writing in a different genre. I would love to hit the 100,000 books sold mark, but would I trade it for the review where a reader thanked me because my book made her feel better whilst her parent was in hospital? No. I might briefly consider it…but no.

4. Despite what your English teachers might have taught you – there are no ‘bad books’. Almost anything has some sort of redeeming feature, and the beautiful thing about the internet is that books that might never be considered, or are completely niche, have a chance to be found by the fans who want them. Just as there is someone out there for everyone, there is a reader out there for every book. However bad you think it is, somebody will love that bad boy.

5. Accept the fact that you might be a crap writer, but there’s absolutely no reason that will stop you being successful, rich or a bestseller. Also, it’s probably not going to stop you writing, because you can’t write without loving at least part of it. And if you’re crap, then you can get better. You’re still a writer, and that’s better than not being one.


‘If content is king, stories are YASSS QWEEN’: 3 things I learnt from BrightonSEO


Before I worked in content, I was just a writer. I didn’t realise there was a difference. You write words for different reasons – to entertain, inform, sell, encourage, or a hundred others. But there’s a moment where text changes to content.

Content is there to fill a space. It is there to tell search engines that you exist, as well as provide your audience with something of use. As an author, content is usually promotional, or helpful. I write content on my blog to let you know how I write my books, what my process is and how you can replicate it.

BrightonSEO is a digital marketing conference. It covers search engine optimisation, PPC, link building, digital growth and content. Which is why I was there.

Content is super relevant for both bloggers and authors. Often we’re told to have a blog, or write blog posts, and we’re not really sure why or what they’re meant to achieve. It’s just sending out content into the world to try and get links back. I have a few tips about content marketing you can check out if you want to know more.

But for now, here’s 5 things I learnt from Brighton SEO that might be useful for authors and bloggers:

  1. Content is king, but stories are YASSS QWEEN!

In the digital marketing world, there’s a saying: content is king. It’s almost become a cliche. It means that when you produce great content, you can achieve a huge amount. But it also means that you can’t trick the system any more. Years ago, Google would rank you highly if you stuffed enough keywords into an article. Now, Google focuses on value – you need to be writing something that is in-depth enough, interesting enough and offers something new to your readers. If your content isn’t good enough, the internet won’t reward you with attention.

I heard from a few different speakers at the conference and they all backed up exactly how I feel: content is important, but it’s nothing in comparison to story.

Content is writing with purpose, and it has it’s use, but it’s stories that I care about, and I’m willing to bet it’s what you care about too. We like to know the interesting tidbits behind the brand, we want to know where an author works, or what led someone to their career. We want adventures – we want to follow a character down a rabbit hole. It’s why influencers sell us stuff. We care about them, and when they do something, we’re invested.

When you’re writing a blog post, even if you’re just sharing information – look for the story, because that’s what your readers are looking for too.

2. Nobody cares…until they do

You can’t expect people to care about your projects. Which is an unpleasant thought for a lot of creators, a bit like the realisation that no one else really finds your kids as fascinating as you do. You are invested in your stories, your creations. So how do you make other people care?

Stop trying to make them. The more you attempt to force someone to care, the more you try to sell someone, the more they retreat. What makes them lean in?

Say it with me – stories.

Don’t tell someone what you’ve done, tell them why you’ve done it, what problem you’re solving, what’s driven you to make it happen. Tell them about the process, the passion, and what you’re achieving. When someone asks me about my books, I don’t tell them ‘it’s about a girl who goes to this place and does X, Y, and Z.’ I tell them it’s a story about loneliness, or grief, and the experience of walking through it, and emerging on the other side. I tell them about the spark of the moment when the idea came into being, or the hilarity of a naughty misspelling at 2am. Find your audience and tell them the story they’ll care about.

3. Ingenuity over budget

It’s easy to think that you need a big budget to get anyone to notice you, but what you really need is to think outside the box. That phrase is incredibly annoying and cliched, but it’s true. Take a few steps away from your focus and see where it takes you – you might stumble onto something excellent! It’s hard to find a niche, and as an author it’s hard to carve out your space in the arena – often it’s difficult to imagine there’s more to you than your story. I definitely feel this way. I write interesting stories because I’m not very interesting myself!

But there’s no reason that a cause or a passion that’s part of you can’t influence your promotion. Your projects can sit alongside each other – don’t be afraid to let who you are move beyond your creations.

It’s easy to think the only way to be seen is to spend money on promotion, adverts or anything else. But consider how publishing is moving on – seeing bloggers talk about books online can be more useful in getting sales than a big advert on the tube. One is more expensive and seems more impressive, but is it really doing the job? Pick what your aims are and work backwards. Budget is a consideration, but buzz is worth more than bucks.


Separating money from art is not only class privilege, it’s a mistake

‘So…is that lucrative, writing?’‘Do you make a lot of money doing that?’

‘Why do you have a day job, if you’re so good then?’

These are just a few of the questions I’ve fielded when I’ve said I write books. Originally, due to my pride, I used to say that I made good money (hey, I survived as a freelancer on my book money for a few years, despite the fear and workaholism almost destroying me – that’s good money). Then I started saying no, but the industry had changed, and that self published authors did well. I referenced Mark Dawson, and Joanna Penn, and the autonomy and possibility of kindle.

Then I just started saying ‘no’.

As much as my university professors are likely to disagree when it comes to literature, money matters. And we authors can pretend we don’t care, that the value of our books is in writing them, and enjoying the journey, and seeing the cover, and celebrating publication day with a glass of bubbly (and all those things are wonderful, don’t get me wrong) – but we do care.

We care, because if we’re not selling, we’re not being read. I’m not here to argue about value and ebooks and 99p and what value is a book, because it’s been done, and I still don’t really know where I stand.

What I do know is that I consider my books a business. A creative business, but a business nonetheless. Why wouldn’t I? These are not days past where the arts were reserved for the upper classes who could depend on their trust funds or wealthy patrons. There is no shame in wanting your creative endeavours to pay well. We pay for movies, we pay to watch plays and operas and go to gigs. Art has value because people enjoy it – creating is to entertain others.

So when I see my royalty cheques and deflate, or see my sales, or Amazon rank, sometimes that does send you spiralling. Perhaps your little book is worthless. Perhaps, regardless of wonderful reviews, and 5 star ratings and people sending you emotional messages about how this book made them feel, the real proof is in the money. Because if it’s not selling, no one’s reading it. And I don’t care what anyone says – if you’ve gone to the trouble of writing a book and getting it published, you want people to read it.

I was taught at university that writing was this powerful, holy thing. It was reserved for genius, and anything less was worthless. And you know the one way to ruin genius? It’s to consider the baseness of money. Because you should write because the spirit tells you to, not considering saleability, or style, or genre or audience. To bring money into literature was to lower it.

I’ll reserve another blog post for those professor-authors who were guaranteed thousands of paperback copies bought by their students studying them on the syllabus each year, but I will say this – money matters. Money that allows you to eat and pay rent so you can stop your stomach growling long enough to write, matters. Money that tells you that one day perhaps you will do this full time, you are valued and this thing your writing mattered enough to a reader to spare a couple of quid to read more from you…these things matter.

It’s a completely different argument when it comes to whether to write to market or not. I fall on a spectrum, and I’m sure authors who get down off their high horse and write to market do a lot better than I do. Similarly, authors who write their authentic story and are found at the right time can do brilliantly. I’m just saying that somewhere in there, your audience needs to exist. Don’t think of them always as you’re writing, visualising them wrinkling their nose and critiquing your work, but remember your old next door neighbour, who loved her thrillers, and your best friend who turned to the same book when she was sad. Markets matter, readers matter, and yes, I’m sorry, but money matters.

Authors who say it doesn’t either have such high paying jobs that they enjoy, that it doesn’t matter (and even that seems ridiculous to me – how can not selling not matter? Isn’t it the point?) or their partners have high paying jobs and they can write without worrying. Which is fantastic, don’t get me wrong. Well jel, and all that.

But surely, even if the money is just a bonus…it’s about the sales? It’s about each click on the ‘buy’ button, each finger grasping a book at the checkout – the first choice before devouring a story? It’s about being chosen. That is where the value lies. Once you have them, you can impress, or disappoint, but the reader has to choose you.

We are forever the sad one-eyed bear sitting on the shelf. We are Woody when Buzz comes along. And so we keep writing. Keep hoping this one will be the one where it all explodes, and finally the value in the words is matched by the value in the numbers.

In a profession where people cannot help but judge you if you’re not a full time author, where they can’t stop themselves from asking what money you’re making, where they seem to mistakenly believe that if you’re not making money you’re crap, and if you are making money you’re over-rated, I’m here to tell you:

Often it seems like selling and success in the book industry is a complete fucking mystery.

And that’s okay!

We’ll still be here, writing either way.

We’ll be broken down, and sad, and working away like that cliche actress waiting for her big break, but we’ll be here.

As long as we can afford to be.

I do wonder how many authors are lost to the poverty of writing. I don’t mean just the inability to afford to write as an income stream, I mean that broken feeling of unworthiness. Bad sales, bad money, these can lead to losing publishers, losing agents, losing hope. People who were once so certain that one day their ship would come in, the ones who have had to rebrand themselves with new author names over and over, just to stay fresh and interesting, just to pique curiosity. It’s a special kind of poverty when the thing you’re best at isn’t good enough. When eventually you have to give up, because you may be 10 people’s favourite writer, but the numbers don’t add up, and seeing the latest thing you put your heart and soul into sinking is a painful place to be.

But don’t worry – we’ll still be here. We can’t stop writing. We love it. How does supply and demand work when you can’t stop supplying?

I don’t have any answers. I’ll still be here, writing my behind off, telling my stories. I’ll still have my account just for my royalties, and when they come in I’ll still buy myself something nice. At the beginning it was a new computer, a weekend away. Now it’s more a glass of wine and a bag of veggie Percy Pigs, but I still celebrate sales. Because they’re not the only thing of value, but this is a business, right? So as in every business, you have to assess what’s working and what not.

What can you do? Well, you can buy books! If you got a free copy, but you see it’s only 99p and you loved it, buy it! Or recommend it to someone else! Or leave a review!

Or maybe let the author know that the book meant something to you, because in my eyes, that’s the only thing worth more than money.


Being an author doesn’t always look how you think it does – but that’s okay

I have been doing this author thing now for 7 years, which is kind of insane. I’ve learnt a huge amount in that time, about all manner of things. Submissions, and promotion, using social media, pricing strategies and the emotional curveballs that can crop up at any point during any book.

I’ve also learnt that no matter how many books I’ve written, how many have had great reviews, or bestseller status or are published by a great publisher, people will always doubt me when I say I’m an author. They will second guess my opinion, they’ll ask for advice and then ignore it.

Because I don’t look like what a ‘successful author’ looks like in their mind.

So what does a successful author look like to someone outside the publishing world?

  • They don’t have a day job because they make enough money from their books
  • They have print books as well as ebooks
  • These print books are ALWAYS available everywhere in every bookshop as well as supermarkets
  • They don’t have to bother with social media because their books talk for them
  • Their book win awards, are ‘critically acclaimed’ or in some sort of famous book club
  • Their publisher/agent are a big name with lots of big writers attached
  • They get movie/TV deals and foreign rights

Am I a 'real' author_

So, now that most successful working authors I know feel sufficiently terrible about themselves, let’s unpack that, shall we?

A huge number of authors who get to stay at home to write full time are able to do so because they already had a very well paying job before they quit to write, or their partner earns a good wage. That’s not to say you can’t make excellent money writing, but those who do are few and far between. Self publishing is opening up more opportunities for that, but a huge amount of work still has to go into it. Society of authors said a little while ago the average wage for an author is around £11,000 a year, so you know what, yes a lot of us still have day jobs, or part time work to support the writing. Perhaps some of us are dreaming of the day we’ll get there, but until we do, we’re still real writers.

There are more mid level authors than huge name authors or unknown authors. What’s midlevel? People who sell books! They have their own followings, they have decent sales. They may get foreign rights and audio, they may have an agent, they may have dear readers asking every week when their new book is out. They write novels and they continue to grow their readership. It’s likely they have another job too. Mid level authors are a huge part of the author world – just because you haven’t heard of an author doesn’t mean they’re not doing well, they’re just working their little corner of the readerverse.

When people outside publishing think of authors, they think of the huge names who become self-fulfilling prophecies. The ones who have a brand, determining that fans will buy their books. We all have those authors who we won’t hesitate to buy their latest work as soon as it comes out. But for every author you’ve heard of, there are a few hundred more who are unknown to you but are still doing pretty damn well. There’s probably some really excellent bands out there you haven’t heard of too – doesn’t mean they don’t exist or aren’t creating great music to a fan base who loves them. Politely, the internet may make us think that we’re the centre of the universe, but we’re not.

If you want to hear me blather on about ebooks and print again, you can do that by reading my last blog post. ‘Nuff said.

Assuming you must be writing drivel just because it’s not award winning or literary is super annoying and something I come across regularly. I write romantic comedies. Sure. I want people to laugh. But don’t tell me I don’t spends weeks and months and years plotting out stories and characters that share a message, one of positivity and hope and healing. Every book I write has a point, and if they didn’t, they wouldn’t sell. I’m tired of hearing crap about literary fiction because honestly, I was trained to write that and for every excellent book that’s proclaimed a ‘masterpiece’ there’s another 500 books that are narcissistic navel-gazing twaddle. We write to be read, not to feed our own egos. There is nothing shameful about writing books that people enjoy.

The idea that your agent or publisher have to be famous and ‘heard of’ is ridiculous. Please see previous point about being the centre of the universe. Readers aren’t involved in publishing – I’d be surprised if most (non-blogger) readers could name the company that published their favourite books. Just because you haven’t heard of something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

There is no other profession I’ve experienced where, when you tell someone what you do, they immediately pick holes and try to make you feel small, or like you’re doing something wrong. I’m not ‘waiting for my big break’ (also, if you’ve met me you know I don’t wait for anything, I’m out there busting my arse to make it work) – this is what the working profession is. We write books, and we submit them, and sometimes they’re published. Sometimes they do well, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes the definition of ‘well’ changes. Sometimes the book you put your soul into has great reviews but few sales. Sometimes the book you didn’t feel pleased with sells a huge number of copies but the reviews stink.

This is the life of an author – one of constant balance and struggle and growth. One of deadlines and plot holes and revisions and edits – these are things that happen whatever ‘level’ of author you are. There has always been snobbery in the literary world, whether for romantic fiction, or ebooks, or self-published books. It’s time that people stopped questioning this job. Firstly, because it’s rude, and secondly, because you’re not really listening to the answer.

What other profession would have responses like:

‘Well, how much do you earn?’

‘But are you like, a real author, or just ebooks?’

‘What, so you print them yourself and sell them places?’

‘But I’ve never heard of you.’

‘Well I’ve always thought I could write a book, so I guess I can call myself an author.’

‘Well that’s very nice for you, isn’t it?’

‘If you were a real author you wouldn’t be working full time would you?’

‘Oh so you’re going to be the next [insert absurdly famous author that is usually JK Rowling] here.’

Stop. Just stop. When Sandra tells me she’s a marketing manager do I ask her if she’s really a marketing manager, in line with the little I know about marketing managers from watching movies? When I meet Dave the accountant, do I ask him how good he actually is at his job, because I’ve previously used numbers in life so therefore I’m an expert?

Clue: no.

Please stop defining writers by incredibly harsh standards – there’s a whole bunch of mechanics going on back here that you don’t see. There’s daily deals and Bookbubs and promotions and excellent editor feedback and audio deals and agents and all this amazing stuff that feels like we’re getting promoted, or getting a pay rise, if this job were in the real world.

Mid level authors exist. Some aspire to be huge household names. Some want that space on the shelf in Waterstones, or the movie adaptation (hey, who doesn’t?) and it won’t happen for all of us.

But this is still our job. And we’re here, doing it. So let us do that without shame or questions or doubt.

If you’re writing a novel, you’re an author. That’s it. Go forth and take over the world. Or don’t. It’s cool. Share your stories and make yourself proud. You’ve got this.

Digital has changed what it means to be an author