Writer and Author Beware: Avoid the Princess Author Syndrome

In front of me were a newbie author and his first fiction manuscript. He was hesitant to speak as I welcomed him and then started asking a few questions.

Before he arrived in my office, I had quietly sat down and read the first three chapters to get a feel for his story and style of writing.

I knew it needed editing, but so do all books to some degree. The opening chapter had legs and moved me to the next, always a good sign. Could it move to the editing stage? My recommendation to him would be a yes, as was with the editor I would assign it to who had already done a pre-screening of the manuscript felt that it was ready to start formal editing.

The author was shocked that I could make that decision without reading all 100,000 words of his masterpiece. I felt his resistance reaching across my conference table.

“Have you read the entire manuscript—all 100,000 words?”

“I didn’t need to,” I responded. “I read your one-page abstract. I read the first three chapters. And I had one of my fiction editors look it over. It’s strong enough to start the process.”

He shook his head. “You can’t make that decision without reading all of it.”

“Yes … yes I can. I’ve been working with authors and books for many years.”

He didn’t believe me.

Those of us who do content editing can tell quickly if we have a mess on our hands or something that needs what I call tweaking. It can be time-consuming, but not massive re-writes. I didn’t see the need in front of me, again recommending that the book be moved to a full edit and proceeded to talk GamePlan and book strategy with him. What evolved was something else; something that started my internal author alarms positioning for the warning, warning.

My warning signal was buzzing … warning, warning … in front of me was a Princess Author.

Princess Authors have no gender. They want others to inundate them with words of praise about their books (or selves) … craves to be told that their words melt like butter on hot bread and that everyone will rush to buy the book … and believes that presence on social media and marketing is for others … never them. Their books never stink.

In other words, Princess Authors want to be “kept” … thinking/believing that there is no work involved after a book is written.

Oh boy. Even with the surge in indie and self-publishing; the numerous conferences and programs readily available to authors and authors-to-be; the countless blogs and articles that are just a click away, Princess Authors continue to multiply. They are either ignorant or choose to ignore the work that must be done to support a book once it is a book in hand—either print or “e”. The Author’s Manuscript to Book Journey is not one that is easily waltzed through. There are plenty of signposts but a variety of barriers and potholes await, even landmines. They can pop up anywhere along with the creation, production, and execution routes.

Assuming that a book gets birthed, Princess Authors excel in practicing benign neglect. Yes, they care about their book. But the underlying belief is that they are done. It’s up to the public to find them. To buy the book. To tell others to buy the book. To discover if the author is out and about and come hear him or her. For the media to locate them and honor them with being a guest or featured on a show or in print. For people everywhere to buzz about how wonderful the book and the author is. Social media is for others, not them.

And those beliefs create the guaranteed formula for author and book failure.

How to Duck the Princess Author Syndrome

To avoid drifting into the Princess Author Syndrome, authors today must be as proactive as any have even been. It’s a competitive world out there—a book-eat-book world.

In dodging being sucked into the Princess Author Syndrome, today’s author quickly learns: if author and book success are to be, it is clearly up to me.

That means a GamePlan is in-play—part of yours will: 

  • Know and state WHO your ideal buyer is;
  • Know and be able to communicate in 15 seconds, or less, what your book is about and what value it brings to the reader;
  • Discover which social media platforms are used by your ideal reader/buyer;
  • Identify the top 10 influencers in your genre—your competitors—and follow them in their social media platforms;

Create a website that gets new material added on an ongoing basis;

  • Have a strategy of how and when you will communicate via social media (Blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) and follow it—social media is your town hall—if you don’t orchestrate and implement, hire someone who will;
  • Determine what steps you will take to gain visibility for you/and or your book and implement a plan that you can follow;
  • Understand that if you can’t do the reach out/stay connected work, you will hire someone who will; and
  • Embrace the simple fact that as long as you desire book sales, you will need to market your book.

The list is longer, but heads start spinning with the amount of “work” that becoming and being a successful author entails. My author-to-be put his head in his hands, shaking it. “It’s too much. I can’t … I don’t want to … I won’t … ”

My time is not free. As he got out his checkbook to pay my fee for the two-hour consult, I told him to stop and keep his money. I wasn’t going to work with him to develop all of the above and more. What I got back was a blank stare.

He wanted to be taken care of; to be told that his words were golden; and that the world would knock down bookstore doors to get copies of his book. It was not going to happen.

If the author and book are to be successful, it’s up to the author. If the indie publishing author isn’t going to do the work that is necessary to propel his or her words; if he or she refuses to hire a virtual assistant or outside team players to make it happen, book and publishing success won’t happen.

Princess Authors need not apply.

Judith Briles is a book publishing expert and coach. She empowers authors and works directly with authors who want to be seriously successful and has been writing about and conducting workshops on publishing since the ’80s. Judith is the author of 37 books including Author YOU: Creating and Building Your Author and Book Platforms, Snappy Sassy Salty: Wise Words for Authors and Writers, and How to Create a $1,000,000 Speech. Her personal memoir When God Says NO-Revealing the YES When Adversity and Loss Are Present is a #1 bestseller on Amazon. Collectively, her books have earned over 45 book awards. Judith speaks throughout the year at publishing conferences. 

Throughout the year, she holds Judith Briles Book Unplugged experiences: Publishing, Speaking, Marketing, and Social Media. All are two-day intensive limited to a small group of authors who want to be seriously successful. Join Judith live for the “AuthorU-Your Guide to Book Publishing” podcast on the Toginet Radio Network HERE

Follow @AuthorUYOUBooks and @MyBookShepherd on Twitter and do a “Like” at AuthorU, and join the Facebook group Book Publishing with The Book Shepherd. If you want to create a book that has no regrets, contact me.

©2021 Judith Briles, The Book Shepherd®