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True Confessions of a Multi-Published Author

Last month my second novel, SHUT OUT, was released, and a few days ago I discovered that my third book will be out June 5th. It was a strange thing to realize that I was a real author now - and that I'd written and sold and edited three novels. Even stranger though was looking back at what I expected life as a full-time author to be like before any of this began. It's a lot different from the reality. Sometimes for the better, and sometimes for the worst.

So here they are. The (not really) secret confessions of multi-published YA author. Are you ready to be scandalized? Or just amused?

Confession #1 - Sometimes I Play Favorites
I've heard some authors say they can't pick their favorite of their books or of their characters, that it's like choosing between your children. If that's the case, I'm doomed to be a terrible mother. I definitely play favorites. I'm not ashamed to admit my third book, A MIDSUMMER'S NIGHTMARE, is my favorite. That doesn't mean I don't love my other books, but I just kind of love this one more. Is that so wrong?

Confession #2 - I'm So Not Famous
Growing up, I always saw authors as celebrities. I wanted their autographs, I wanted to ramble at them about their work, I wanted to meet Sarah Dessen just as much as I wanted to meet Natalie Portman. To me, authors were famous! But let me tell you, two books in, I'm not famous. No one takes pictures of me when I leave my apartment dressed in sweats, no one recognizes me in the store (not even the bookstore), and when people ask me what I've written, they usually have never heard of my books. Authors might be celebrities to nerds like me, but to most people, not so much. And honestly? That's a good thing, because I wear sweats a lot.

Confession #3 - I'm not Rich, But I'm Not Poor Either
I always thought writers were either very rich or very poor, depending on their level of success. But I've discovered the truth is not so dramatic. In actuality, I'm neither rich nor poor. I make enough money to live comfortably, but sometimes I still eat Cheerios for dinner. And, from what I gather, this is the case for most professional writers. They may not be rolling in the cash, but they probably aren't starving either. And most of them have day jobs, too!

Confession #4 - Sometimes I Think I Suck
Somehow, I always thought that if I ever go t published, all of my low self-esteem would fade off into the distance - at least the writing related worries. But that's far from the truth. If anything, I'm more paranoid about sucking. What if my agent realizes I'm not actually a good writer? What if my editor hates my next submission? What if I'll never write anything this good ever again? With every project, I have at least one major "This is terrible!" freak out.

Confession #5 - And Sometimes I DO Suck
Most of the time low self confidence is all in my head, but other times, the book really isn't great. Selling three books doesn't mean every book after will be great. Selling three books doesn't mean every book will sell. You can still be rejected by an editor, or your agent can tell you a project isn't your strongest. Sometimes you have to scrap projects you love because its the wrong time - or just because they aren't as good as you think they are. It doesn't matter how many books you've published, your track record will never be perfect.

Confession #6 - Most Days I Don't Get Out of My Pajamas
Growing up, I always thought being a writer was all about jetting off on tour, wearing cool clothes, signing copies of my book, and meeting other cool authors. Somehow, I always forgot about the actual writing part. And while the other things do happen occasionally, they don't happen for everyone and they only take up a small amount of time. Most days, I'm just sitting in my bed in my pajamas hacking away on my laptop. Most days my hair doesn't get brushed and I don't put on makeup and my apartment is a mess! Most days I look like crap and I don't see anyone but my roommates and my characters. So it's a good thing Confession #2 is true because if I were famous, people would think I was a real slob!

And those are my confessions. It's funny how different your perceptions of a life can change once you're living it.

What about you? Are there any things you used to think about writing that you've since learned aren't true? Or do you have any writing confessions people might be surprised to hear? We'd love it if you'd share!

Kody Keplilnger

Kody is the NYT bestselling author of The DUFF, Shut Out, and A Midsummer's Nightmare, all from Little Brown/Poppy, as well as Lying Out Loud, Run, and the middle grade novel The Swift Boys and Me, from Scholastic. Born and raised in Kentucky, she now lives in NYC.

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  1. Kody, I loved this!! Thanks for being so honest and giving all that insight into the life of a real-live published author :) Pajamas FTW!! :D

  2. I loved these confessions! Your honesty is fantastic--and encouraging (I mean pajamas every day? Fantastic. ^_^).

    Thanks for sharing this with us!

  3. I'll admit I used to think of authors as famous people. I realize they aren't...exactly, but I still want their autographs. *grins*

  4. Thanks Kody! This gave me a lot of comfort. I would love to be published, and I would love to see my book in bookstores and on Amazon, and have people reading and talking about my work--but I can do without fame. I'd be quite happy to make some money, have a nice online fan base, meet wonderful readers at signings and readings, but still have the freedom to live my life in peace. You've described my Utopia!

    May your fount of inspiration never run dry! :)

  5. Very intersting post! I have the same author worship thoughts as you lol. They're all so famous and glamorous, right? (Granted that still didn't stop me from fan girling all over John Green, but I get your point)

  6. I love this post! I had the same misconceptions about authordom- and it's not all like that, is it? But I'd totally ask for your autograph if I saw you, though :)

  7. Thank you for sharing! I'm just embarking on the publication road (my first book doesn't come out until 2013) but I will say it surprised me that after I got my contract and everything I still had moments where I wasn't sure I was any good. I just thought that when I got a publisher I wouldn't struggle with confidence, and though I consider myself pretty confident and self-assured in general, there are still dark moments of self-doubt. But I'm starting to believe that even the best and most successful of authors have those moments.

  8. Thanks for giving us aspiring writers a reality check. Sometimes it's nice to get called back to planet Earth!

  9. The money thing is what I've noticed people outside of publishing have the hardest time wrapping their heads around. Like, they can't believe I still have an actual day job. But unless you're being published in a ton of languages, staying on that NYT bestseller list and scoring a movie's not all about the benjamins.

  10. "This is terrible!" freak out moment? Happy I'm not the only one. :)

  11. I love this post! Especially the part about playing favorites with your books and your honesty regarding finances.

    (and you're definitely famous to me, Kody!)

  12. Fantasy is usually better than the reality--unless you hit the NYT bestseller list (out of the gate, hopefully) and actually score that movie deal. It's happened to some, but they're relatively few and far between.

    I'd recognize you Kody. I saw you at a writer's conference and recognized you right away! Plus, your editor had really good things to say about you :-)

  13. Fantastic post. And I'm actually looking forward to spending all day in my pyjamas!

  14. Love these. You made me smile more than once. ;)

  15. I'm a newly published YA author, so this is super interesting to me! First, thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kody. I love the candid, inside look into the mind of a successful writer! Congrats on your sales, by the way!

    Second, I have to say, I totally relate to the self doubt. I've realized one thing about myself through writing...well, more than one, actually. But the main thing is, I'm a hard worker. Who would have thought? I certainly never thought I had it in me, until one day, I did it. And to get that e-mail from my editor saying how much she loved my book was the first real moment of happiness in my writing career. The spike of adrenaline, the feeling that I was going to cry--then scream--then cry again, and then, the moment I got to actually sign my first contract. What an experience!

    But at the end of the day, self doubt is the writer's kryptonite. It pokes the back of your mind 24/7, sometimes makes you feel less than capable--especially when you're staring at the computer screen, wrote into a corner, not knowing what to do next. But then you break out of that rut, and push forward. It's those moments that make me happy to be doing what I'm doing. The little successes along the way (I guess writers would call them a "mini climaxes" lol) and the the hope that your readers will love what you've wrote as much as you do!

    Thanks for sharing!


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Item Reviewed: True Confessions of a Multi-Published Author Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Kody Keplinger