Being An Author When It Meant Something Totally Different

Being An Author Meant Something Different

A long time ago times were gay being an author.

They were a pleasant bunch of daydreamers, incessant travellers and occasionally, rogues and scallywags.

Being a writer or even better, a published author back then, meant lazing on desert islands sipping cocktails, being a bar philosopher or very often, travelling to exotic places on the back of a hefty book advance.

All of this frivolity, of course, was necessary, with the intention of finding inspiration for a new story.

Or more truthfully, having a jolly good time before your book publisher caught up with you and started ranting about your advance and deadlines.

These glamorised folk didn’t have to worry too much about accuracy on their typewriters.

Grammar, spelling, plot errors and such were problems for an editor to worry about. There was a pecking order, with authors at the pinnacle of the pyramid.

For an author, the main task was simply coming up with a ripping yarn or epic tale.

As this part occupied very little of his or her waking hours, they could happily get on with all the other more enjoyable aspects of being an author, which didn’t involve the dreaded writing bit.

Once their agent or traditional publisher was hooked on the new story idea, a new hefty advance would be in the offing, and once again, it would be off to exotic places. And perhaps there, write the new story, in between cocktails.


Then all of a sudden, the glamorous world of being an author, changed.

Some idiot invented electronic publishing, self-publishing, the Print-On-Demand paperback, and worst of all, the ebook. The charismatic world of authors writing books took an immediate nose-dive.

No more tropical paradises, no more drunken weeks occupying a barstool and delivering philosophical lectures to equally drunken acquaintances.

In fact, it heralded the end of agents and publishers screaming about deadlines, and horrifically, it marked the end of fat advances.

Sadly too, was that all those editors and line editors who had received zero recognition for centuries were out of work, so they decided it was about time that they finally got some credit, so they all became ebook authors.

Plot synopsis, character development, syntax, grammar and lexical dexterity were all an author needed way back then.

But all of a sudden an author needed to know everything there was to know about HTML, jpeg, png, FTP, Unix, blogging, PDF, auto-posting, book promotion, social networking, spam, mailing lists, keyword tagging, website maintenance and metadata.

And of course, how to use a thing called a computer; seeing as though all the typewriters in the world had suddenly been melted down to make outdoor garden furniture.

Yes, those were the days, weren’t they? When authors wrote drunk. When authors were authors and the world was beautiful. Way back then, before 2008.

So, what does being an author mean today?


Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent teaching English and writing, as well as testing and taming new technology.

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