Fictional Author

I came across an author page on Facebook with this header:

“I’m a fictional author and this page is designed to get to know me as a person, as well as myself getting to know you. Here to share my ideas and thoughts.”

This is from a person who self-published two novels and calls herself a “freelance writer, freelance editor”. Unfortunately, she is not entirely fictional. Her Facebook author page has nearly four hundred followers.

Charles Bukowski once wrote “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts and the stupid ones are full of confidence.”
I have my doubts whether I fall among the intelligent people or not, but I definitely do not have the confidence to call myself an editor. On the other hand, I also know that I couldn’t come up with something like “I’m a fictional author and this page is designed to get to know me as a person, as well as myself getting to know you” if I tried very hard to do it on purpose.

Maybe this lady is a truly talented intuitive writer. Maybe she is the next E. L. James. While plenty of aspiring writers on the internet ask questions like “What if I am not cut out to be a writer. What if I am deluded?” others seem to be brimming with misplaced confidence. But these oddly confident people may in fact be the undiscovered best selling writers they believe themselves to be. After all, history has shown us that good writing, or even decent grammar, is not mandatory for a book to sell huge volumes.

Pushing your product with confidence is sometimes all it takes to make a sale. It takes humility and self criticism to polish your craft. The requirements to become a good writer is opposite to the requirements of a good salesperson. At the end of the day, it is a tough call whether the wordsmith will triumph over the book pusher. They often don’t.

These days when the writer must do a chunk of his/her own marketing, the shift in importance from wordsmith to salesperson is inevitable. But every writer should at least read Strunk & White’s Elements of Style. When I bought Word Up! How to Write Powerful Sentences and Paragraphs by Marcia Riefer Johnston, I thought I made a bad purchase. No writer should ever need a book this basic. Apparently, I was wrong. Please read Word Up! by Marcia Riefer Johnston. Please read Stephen Wilbers (Keys to Great Writing and Mastering the Craft of Writing). Please read William Zinsser (On Writing Well). Please read lots of books on grammar and style.

Please do not be a fictional author.

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