There are only a few differences between an aspiring writer and a published author, be it through a vanity publisher or under contract. It's mostly disillusionment, twenty pounds lost due to stress, and a haunted look in an author's eyes that clearly says they want to watch the world burn.

It's come to my attention I need to hang out with more writers and artists. I love my friends and family, but most are of the yuppie persuasion. Why can't I get a real job? Why do I take my "hobby" so seriously? Where's that $20 I owe them? It's all I ever hear, and no one warns you of this. I figure fellow writers will understand, as will artists. For everyone aspiring out there, here's a quick list of the biggest headaches you'll face as a published author:

 1. Your Pitch Has To Be Ready 24/7

Are you an introvert? Oh, man, publish your book and you quickly learn: you are so fucked! Everyone wants a nice, neat plot summary, and they'll demand it without ever asking what type of book you've put out.


Thanks for taking our picture, ma'am! Now, what's your book about?
Er, well you see it starts when this Venusian assfucks an assassin...

I'm an introvert and long ago I learned an introvert's best friend is smoking. Arrive at a party and don't know anyone? SMOKE! If you can smoke indoors someone will ask to bum one or for a light, if it's outside only you can herd with your fellow coughing, wheezing people. Instant friends! I usually make a circuit of the party, then light up. However, I have stubborn friends who think I'm shy, so they introduce me as "This is my friend, she just published a book!"

Great, but does the new person give two shits? Seriously, if they're introduced to me as "This is Jim, he makes African Tribal/Dubstep mashups and is now selling his first album out of a car!" I'm likely to punch them for having crappy taste in music. Otherwise I'll get that forced smile and say "that's nice...how's it going?" Do I ask for him to bust out a CD and put it on the stereo or hum a few bars? Nope, but everyone wants the summary from an author.

At a friend's wedding the groom was nice enough to try to introduce me to single guys (friends who don't get you can be happy single is an entirely different rant) by saying A. I'm a nerd and B. I just published my book. Did any of the gentlemen focus on my nerdish leanings? Do they care I can quote Star Trek TNG from memory and know the timeline of all of Nikola Tesla's work? No such luck. They all asked about the book, while I was thinking "how many beers did I have? and why does this wood floor feel like a bouncy castle?" The result was me saying "um, it's a detective story set in Chicago, and you know what? It's really stupid. Where'd you get the Daisy Cutter Ale?" and walking off.

I not only cock-blocked myself, I might have lost a chance to sell a few copies. So when you publish, you'll have to write a summary/sales pitch to sell it, and you need to memorize it. At your niece's birthday party you don't want to explain to all the moms within earshot of the kids that you wrote a spiritual sequel to The Story Of O, so prepare a few versions. Memorize it or print it on business cards, hand them out at parties, and go find the beer bong or pinata.
 
2. Discovering How Many Friends Lie

I don't know why people lie when they don't need to, and can easily be disproved. they say it's to be nice, and they'll always claim they have bought your book, or will within 48 hours. Then you check your sales reports and are left rolling your eyes.

Bob: I bought thee copies last week!
You: Sorry, Uncle Bob, reading the description on Amazon doesn't count
Bob: Oh, kid the model on the cover? Got her phone number?
You: Hey, there, Aunt Marge, Bob is buying my book!
 
People seem to think this is the natural response to the pitch. The more intelligent ones say "Oh, that sounds...interesting, I'll have to check it out." I know to translate that as they'll forget the entire conversation in 30 seconds and never even Google it, or they'll sit down and try, but get distracted by kitten videos.

However, curiously, the more you know someone, the more likely they are to do this. Family is the worst. Sure, mom and dad might buy copies, read them, and disown you, but cousin Margey and Uncle Bob? It's a snow job! It's their version of "the check is in the mail," when you haven't sent them the invoice. You could respond by saying "you know I'm trying to make a living off this, toying with my income expectations will only enhance my natural tendency towards suicide as a writer," but that's a downer. I recommend smiling and saying "I look forward to seeing my sales numbers jump soon!" Hey, they snowed you, so apply those high-pressure sales tactics. Kids are especially susceptible.

3. Everyone Has An Idea

Everyone wants to be a writer, a rock star, president, and a movie star, but few are willing to put in the effort. So when you kill yourself to do so, then they immediately interrupt your pitch with their own bizarre ideas, expecting to be listed as a co-author and make millions all for ruining your family holiday with their bizarre ideas.

 
Search for the human soul? Pshah, Jim, let me tell you my idea about a clown who dreams of owning a shoe store in Munchkinland!
Oh, oh, Jim! I have this great idea about four women who rob a bakery to fund time-travel!
Jim: ...

 
It's a common scene at my holiday dinners. My father has some idea involving the military and economics (he's a returned Marine Lance Corporal with a BS in economics...I sense a theme) and my brother always has an idea for some twisted horror that resembles the bastard love child of Graham Masterton and Stephen King, with Jean Claude Van Damme as godfather. Luckily my aunt usually interrupts to ask thirty questions about my dog, saving the day.

They mean well, I suppose, even if they are couch-surfing their fantasies via you, but no one understands how patronizing this feels to a writer. You sit there, staring at them, thinking I slaved for years, fleshed my characters out to be so real I accidentally tried to mail them Christmas cards, researched for months, and nearly killed myself for this book. And you're telling me it doesn't hold a candle to a story about a guy like James Bond doing this mission like James Bond with this girl like the one from James Bond...and Goldeneye was on last night you say? Meanwhile they don't realize what you're really hearing them say is Ha! I could do this better, and in thirty seconds, let me prove it!

Sadly the only response to this is smiling and nodding...and writer's revenge. The next time a secondary character must suffer a gruesome death, model them on the twit that pulls this. Until then, just smile, nod, and try to think about beer.

 4. No One Considers It Art


Try being a published author and calling yourself a starving artist. Without a steady, good-paying day job, you are, but no one, absolutely no one, will believe this...but other writers.

You did what? How cute! So did Snooki!

The yuppie set will ask: but isn't it just a hobby? Isn't it foolish? Can't anyone do it? If you're not instantly rich, doesn't that mean you suck at it? Isn't art paintings?

The artistic set will often ask: Isn't art paintings, sculpture, photography, collage, crayon installations, and music? How dare you compare yourself to us, do you even know how we suffer for our art?

If you've ever wondered why most authors of repute drink like fish, smoke like chimneys, and have such a high suicide rate, here's your answer. Hey, even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle did snuff, aka cocaine, and this was probably why. When no one respects you until you top the NY Times Bestseller list, your will to live transforms into thinking You say this is poison? I'll take three! Of course I'll take it from the hooker's ass!

This is the hardest one. The only real cure for it is learning to not give a fuck. Go ahead, do the coke, get drunk, fuck these cheerleaders, LIVE! The best you can do is make the yuppies jealous. And for the artists...remind them if they don't support you, you won't support them, and when all else fails, taunt them with the fact you could theoretically win a Nobel prize for your hobby. It's best to do that when at their show at the tiniest art gallery or bar in town, and I recommend shouting this while doing an interpretive dance naked and covered in mustard. Speak their language.

In the end the people who are truly your friends will do none of these. Keep those people, and kill the others off in your books, de-friend them on Facebook in real life. For every writer sanity is hanging by a thin thread so prepare yourself for these eventualities and you just might make it.