I need to begin by saying that there is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ author, in just the same way as there is no perfect publisher, no perfect editor, no perfect designer — we’re all human, after all.
However, in over 20 years of publishing, I can say there are certain traits that all the very best authors seem to have in common. And these apply whether they are writing a children’s picture book aimed at 5 to 8 year olds, a self-help book aimed at adults, or a cookbook intended to tantalise the family’s tastebuds. I call them ‘the Three Cs’.
1. Curiosity. Good authors are relentlessly curious … about everything! They’re constantly exploring the world, researching new subjects, and asking questions. I always feel a sense of joy when a first-time author bombards me with questions about the publishing process — it’s usually a sign that they’ll be great to work with. Conversely, silent apathy inspires fear.
2. Commitment. Writing a manuscript is hard. It’s often a long, drawn-out process that tests even the most committed writers. So I guess it’s understandable that some authors seem to switch off the second their manuscript is delivered, believing it now to be the publisher’s responsibility.
Nothing could be further from the truth, however. It’s vital that authors remain actively involved for every single step of the production process — right through to the sales and marketing of their title once it’s published.
For those authors who choose to self-publish, their commitment needs to be even greater as they will need to be on top of every aspect of publication if they’re to be successful.
3. Confidence. This has nothing to do whether an author is shy or an extrovert and everything to do with whether or not they have a deep, unshakeable belief in the quality of their work and its worthiness to be published. They need to truly believe it has something to offer the reader that will enrich their life in some way — even if that’s just with a good belly laugh!
The life of an author is often one of rejection — manuscripts get knocked back far more often than they get accepted — so it’s that confidence that will keep them contacting publishers and putting themselves out there. It’s also what will keep their book selling once the initial media attention has passed and booksellers have moved on to the next thousand new releases.
There you have it: my Three Cs for a Perfect Author! Something to aim for, at least …
Anouska Jones is our KBR Editor. Mum to a gorgeous little girl, she has nearly twenty years' experience in the book publishing industry. A publishing consultant and editor, Anouska is obsessed by all things to do with words, writing and books.