Authors Answer 144 – The Writer’s Ego

Everyone has an ego, right? The ego is an interesting thing. Some people have a big ego and think very highly of themselves. Others are the opposite, and don’t have much of an ego. They still have an ego, though. It has to do with self-esteem as well as self-importance. But we usually hear about the self-importance part. So, how does it affect authors? This week’s question is from Eric Wood.

Question 144 – Does having a big ego help or hinder a writer?

C E Aylett

I’m sure there have been cases of both — the genius who knows it to be so and is uncompromising in taking advice from others ‘beneath’ him/her and wins out in producing a masterpiece and the humble author who listens openly to suggestions and takes on board what fits with what s/he’s trying to accomplish.

However, in most acknowledgements in most novels, credit is given to those who gave sound advice to the authors during the creation of the book.

If you mean ego = confidence, I don’t think there’s any harm in having confidence in what you do, because nobody else is going to do that for you until you’ve been published and proved yourself to the wider world. Also, if you don’t have some confidence – or ego – in yourself, you’d be too scared to put any of your work out into the world and push for your goals. But ego that takes on arrogance is only going to end up making you look silly if you fall on your face, no one else. I’m thinking of those self-pubbed stories that completely lack a sense of self-awareness because of the author’s ego telling them they’ve written the best story ever without first finding out if that is the case in accordance with the rest of the world.

A writer’s ego is a fragile and conflicted creature, too scared to be brazen yet needing to be so in order to realise its own ambitions. Sweep it too far under the carpet and it will never resurface into the light, but buff and polish it to be too shiny and people will naturally turn away from its garish nature.

H. Anthe Davis

A certain amount of confidence is essential to being able to wade through the pain and suffering of endless edits, rewrites, concrits and reviews. Believing oneself to be the be-all and end-all of writership, though… Well, I guess it works for some people, but personally I believe it eventually turns one’s work into a parody of itself, and keeps one from growing as a writer. It’s important to be able to consider criticisms as well as shrug them off — and big egos can’t do that. If you’ve ever had a favorite writer whose quality of work seems to have gone way downhill the longer they’ve written, ego-issues could be at fault; like a celebrity, a writer can reach a point where they’re only surrounded by yes-men, and lose the ability to edit out their bad ideas.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

I think it can be a little bit of both, to be honest. On the one hand, having a big ego can mean that you’re unwilling to accept criticism, even when it’s absolutely warranted. I’ve met fellow writers who were so full of themselves that you couldn’t give them even the tiniest bit of advice, which is a terrible way to be if you actually want to grow as a writer. On the other hand, having no ego at all can also be a bad thing because you’re inevitably going to take a mental and emotional battering as a writer. If you can’t read unnecessarily mean reviews, for instance, without being able to turn around, put on a smile, and know that the reviewer is just an ass who wants to put you down, you’re never going to be able to survive actually becoming popular in any sense. Remember, with views/followers/readers/etc automatically comes trolls.

Eric Wood

I don’t know. That’s why I was asking. I would assume since most writers are introverts, a writer’s ego is usually moderately sized, like a grapefruit. Unlike an athlete with an ego the size of a pumpkin. I guess it just depends on what kind of characters you create. A big egoed writer could more easily write characters who are more boisterous, full of themselves.

Gregory S. Close

Having a big ego will not make or break a writer. Talent will. Ego expressed as self-confidence may help in pursuit of agents or publishers without the pesky interference of self-doubt. Ego expressed as arrogance could alienate an author from fans and hurt sales. In the end, it’s just one trait, and that one trait probably won’t determine much all by itself.

Jean Davis

It would seem that having an ego is necessary to being a writer. If you don’t believe your work is good, you’re not going to submit or publish it. Yet, if your ego gets too big, you may not be open to criticism or advice which can hurt the quality of your writing. There’s a happy medium, somewhere between having your soul crushed and being on top of the world.

Paul B. Spence

I’m guessing a little of both. If you mean an ego about writing… I think it would hurt. A writer has to be able to self-critique and take advice from an editor. On the other hand… you need to have enough ego to put yourself out there and say, “I wrote this. Buy my book, you’ll like it!” You have to believe in yourself and not give up. I think that is at least twenty-five percent of writing.

D. T. Nova

Depending on the situation it could do either one, but I’d say it hinders more than it helps. Especially for anyone who doesn’t already have a big name to go with it.

Cyrus Keith

Depends on how big the ego is. A big ego dreams big, and doesn’t know the meaning of “You can’t do that.” A REALLY big ego has no concept of constructive criticism, because everything they do is “perfect, how dare you question my genius!” In my opinion, a writer has to have a big enough ego to fearlessly push the edge of the envelope without being so self-superior that he/she cannot receive correction.

Jay Dee Archer

It really depends on what you mean by big ego. But I’ll guess that it means someone who has a very high opinion of themselves, extremely self-important. So confident that they’re better than everyone else that they appear arrogant. That kind of person can be an incredible pain, but they also have a lot of confidence in what they’re doing. That can definitely help them. But the drawback could be that they can’t take any kind of criticism. I know there are actors like this. The directors and other actors hate working with them. An author with an ego like this could be difficult to deal with from the point of view of publishers, agents, and editors. That can hurt them.

An ego can be good in terms of confidence. But it can be a hindrance if it means they can’t take criticism.

How about you?

How do you feel about an author having a big ego? Is it an advantage or a hindrance? Let us know in the comments section below.


How to Make a Solar Eclipse Viewer

Most of you are from North America, and I’m sure you know about the solar eclipse next Monday, right? The path of totality will cross the United States, but all of North America will get to see it to varying degrees of partiality. For me, it’ll be around 75% partial.

Do you have your solar eclipse glasses? They’re hard to find now. If you don’t have some, don’t worry! You can still observe the eclipse! Actually, I made one today with my daughter. Here it is:

An easy to make solar eclipse viewer made with a cereal box.

That’s right, it’s a cereal box. Curious how to make it? It’s actually very easy. I made a video showing how I made it, so if you want to try this out, then definitely watch the video!

Are you going to make it? Any kind of cereal box will do. You can use pretty much any kind of box, actually. Just make sure no light is getting in except through the pinhole. Let me know if you’re going to make it!

Countries I Want to Visit

How many of you like to travel? I would love to visit every country in the world. Yes, even the dangerous ones, as long as they’re not dangerous in the future. But there are some that I absolutely want to go to within the next ten years.

Below is a video where I describe the countries I want to visit. You’re welcome to read the list below the video, but you won’t get the reasons or why some of these countries are special to me. So, watch the video!

And here are the countries:

  • Norway
  • Germany
  • The UK
  • Ireland
  • Russia
  • Iceland
  • New Zealand
  • Australia
  • Costa Rica
  • Italy

So, which countries do you want to visit, and why? Let me know in the comments section below.

My Summer Reading

I got a bit behind on my VEDA blog posts! So, time to catch up. First up is my summer reading list. I admit I’ve been pretty bad at reading lately, and I keep telling myself I’ll take half an hour or an hour every night to read. But that hasn’t happened. I need to!

But here is my summer reading plan:

Here’s the list, in case you missed it:

  • Theft of Swords, by Michael J. Sullivan
  • Consider Phlebas, by Iain M. Banks
  • Mistborn, by Brandon Sanderson

If you didn’t watch the video, you’re missing out on a lot.

Have you read any of these books? Let me know what you thought of them. Also, what are you reading the rest of this summer?

Authors Answer 143 – The First Book Advance

Writing books is a job. Most authors do it with the hope that they can become a full time author, and be able to support themselves on the income they receive. But that first advance is a big milestone in any author’s career. This week’s question comes from our very own C E Aylett.

I would also like to take a moment and thank Beth Aman for her contributions in the past year. She’s going to college, and will be concentrating on that. Good luck, Beth!

Question 143 – What would you/did you spend your first book advance on?

Linda G. Hill

I would spend my advance getting myself out of debt. …wait, how much are we talking? More than $30,000? I’ll probably go out for coffee.

Cyrus Keith

Probably a car. I’ve never had a car that I didn’t have to spend dark, cold evenings in my driveway effecting repairs to get to work the next morning. Even my best cars needed the Desperation Treatment at least once. At least I’m a halfway decent backyard mechanic.

D. T. Nova

I’m not sure what, but I’m sure that whatever special thing I spent part of it on right away wouldn’t cost a very large portion of it.

Paul B. Spence

Cookies? What does anyone spend any money on? Bills? Food? Books? Whatever? I’m not sure that I see an advance as anything other than a paycheck.

Jean Davis

I splurged on a comfortable writing chair. Not that my advance covered the whole purchase, but it did go towards it. I figured if I was finally going to be serious about this writing thing, I should have a chair that I wanted to sit in, one that felt like a reward for years of toiling over words and would motivate me to continue to do so.

Gregory S. Close

Any book advance I receive, if I ever am so fortunate, would go in the bank to pay the bills like any other income. If we’re talking a ridiculous sort of advance, where the money spilleth over… well, then I’d like to do something nice for the family – maybe a remodel of the house, or something really exciting like saving for my daughter’s college.

Eric Wood

I would spend it on a vacation. Naturally, while on vacation I would be looking for more writing inspiration – new characters, new settings, new plot twists, etc. It’s always fun to people watch and it provides ample opportunity to find people to put in a book.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

It really depends on the size of the advance – the average of which I am woefully uneducated in – but after some thought on the topic, I think I’d go with a couple of new gadgets, specifically a new phone and laptop. My current laptop is huge, heavy, and bulky, and is getting old enough that it’s starting to act up in some really annoying ways, which makes things like writing, for example, rather annoying. My phone is way too old, gets way too hot, and I actually recently dropped it and shattered the screen, so…yeah. It’d be nice to have a new one of those right now!

H. Anthe Davis

I’m a saving kinda person, so I’m sure I would deposit any large check immediately and bask in the increase of my overall savings account. Money is fodder for more projects, though, so I imagine I’d at least mentally dedicate part of it to cover art payments and other acts of brand upkeep. Oh, and maybe get some sushi.

C E Aylett

Depends how big it is. If a small advance probably clear the household bills! If anything was left over, take the kids to Disney in Paris.

If it was a big advance, I’d invest in some sort of property and rent it out so I would always have an income to support my writing, no matter what twists and turns came up in my career. I’d still take the kids to Disney, though.

Jay Dee Archer

I have a feeling this will be a common answer. I’ll pay bills. I think for any kind of income, a lot of it will go toward anything that is obligatory. Bills. If it’s a large advance, bills would be paid for quickly, but I’d probably save most of the money. And if it were a ridiculously large advance, I’d go on a trip and buy a car. Or buy a car and go on a trip. Not at the same time, of course! A road trip would be nice, but my wife and I want to travel overseas.

How about you?

If you’re an author, what would or did you use your first advance on? Let us know in the comments section below.

Authors Answer, a Great Source for Authortube

Authortube is a small part of Booktube, which is also a small part of YouTube. I take part in all three, of course. Authors Answer, which I’ve been hosting since 2014, has been a great source for video ideas for my YouTube channel. If you are an author and a YouTuber, then why not join in? Today’s VEDA video is all about that. Check it out.

So, if you are interested in joining in, then let me know! Keep in mind this is for YouTube, not on this blog.

Authors Answer 142 – Becoming Famous

The vast majority of authors never become famous. They never have a bestseller. They are pretty much unknown. But many authors dream of making it big, becoming one of those authors who is a household name. But how would we handle that newfound fame?

Question 142 – How do you think you would handle fame if your books become as popular as authors like Stephen King?

C E Aylett

I’m a pretty sociable person so I’d probably be far too open for my own good! I’d also like to think I’d keep my feet on the ground and just keep on being me, with perks.

H. Anthe Davis

Authors are hardly rock stars, so I wouldn’t think the pressure of fame would be excessive. There would likely be convention appearances and book signings, so my antisocial little self might have trouble maintaining a pleasant face, but I’ve manned a sales booth before and it wasn’t so bad. All such things end in their time, just have to be nice and wait them out. I think the worst parts for me would be to have a spotlight and a deadline — fan-made or publisher-made. I don’t like to be pushed. Also I’d probably have to drop out of my Day Job, which would mean losing ruminating time and getting way too wrapped up in my own head… Of course, I’m hardly writing the Great American Novel, so I wouldn’t have a problem writing follow-ups in the same vein as my first popular work. So I think it would be a combination of gratifying and annoying, and make me a surly recluse when I’m not publisher-mandated to put on a smile and sell.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

It’s hard to say, honestly, because you can never really know how you’re going to react in any situation until you’ve been in it. I’d like to think that I’d react well. Being able to support my family with my writing – and subsequently spend more time focusing on my writing as well – is a dream of mine, so I think that I’d be extremely happy, at least to a certain degree.

At the same time, there are definitely downsides that I’m not sure I would deal with all that well. From my tiny, practically insignificant experience with “fame” through my YouTube channel, I’ve learned that having people claim to love and admire you can actually sometimes be very hard on the head in a number of ways. Additionally, growing larger and larger means you end up with more and more expected of you, and that kind of pressure can become like a crushing weight that exacerbates things like anxiety and depression.

So, I guess, without really knowing exactly how I would react, I expect that I’d probably be very happy, but also very stressed.

Eric Wood

If I became as famous as Stephen King (or JK Rowling, even) I would live it up. I would support causes that were important to me (like fighting cancer and making sure the world has access to clean water). I would also make sure I and my family were comfortable and without too many needs. I would do some book tours, too. Perhaps from my RV as I traveled Canada and the US. Because, as long as you aren’t the one driving, you can write while you’re on the road!

Gregory S. Close

If I achieve the sort of mega-success enjoyed by the likes of Stephen King, fame would be a small price to pay for the chance to write full time and make millions of dollars doing it. Unlike some other types of fame, authorial fame still allows for some privacy and anonymity. For example, it’s not like paparazzi are bugging King that much. Regardless, having the financial freedom to write, spend quality time with family, and travel without worrying about allotted vacation time would be worth any added scrutiny. I would also love to support a worthwhile charity in a meaningful way.

Jean Davis

If only one could be so fortunate. I suppose I would make requisite public appearances and attempt to be helpful to other writers who are not yet as popular. I’d spend the rest of my time attempting to write the next great book while under the pressure of people waiting anxiously for it and pray that it doesn’t suck as bad as I think it does.

Beth Aman

Well there’s two answers to this question. The first is that it would be AMAZING to be as popular as Stephen King, because that would mean I’d actually be able to support myself as a writer! (Isn’t that every writer’s dream?) The second is that I’m not sure I’d like being that famous. Sure, it would be amazing to meet people who had enjoyed my work, go to author signings, talk to young writers, etc… but I might go a little crazy being that popular. Hopefully I’d just use my resources to keep writing good stories and keep inspiring others, but I have no idea actually.

Paul B. Spence

Well, I suppose I’d make sure I had some say over who played in the movies… maybe have a look at the scripts, too. Really, I’m not even sure how to answer such a question. I’d quit my day job and write all the time, I suppose.

D. T. Nova

I really don’t know. Of course I’d be glad to have my writing so widely read, but I think I would be overwhelmed by too much publicity. At least at first.

Jay Dee Archer

It’s hard to say. I’ve never been the focus of more than a few hundred people, and that’s on YouTube. I’d probably enjoy the travel, going to book signings, conventions, and being able to afford my own personal travel much more. I like hotels for some reason. Speaking in front of groups used to be an issue for me, but not so much anymore. And if I sold the rights of my books to a movie studio or TV studio, I’d want to be involved in it. I wouldn’t want them to change the story very much.

But, you know, authors tend to not be in the spotlight very much. Even the big, famous authors most likely have a private life, and don’t really have a celebrity status. I’m fine with that.

How about you?

If you’re an author, how do you think you’d handle becoming famous? Let us know in the comments below.

The official blog of Jay Dee Archer. Exploring new worlds, real and fictional.