The Princess Author Syndrome

by | Feb 25, 2015

By Judith Briles

In front of me was a new fiction manuscript. I had read the first three chapters to get a feel for the book beforehand. 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 was to make it so at the joint meeting with the author and editor in my offices who had already done a pre-screening of the manuscript and 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. 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 game plan and book strategy with him.

What evolved was something else; something that started my internal author alarms positioning for 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) … crave to be told that their words melt like butter on hot bread and that everyone will rush to buy the book … and believe 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.

prince-ess (2)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 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 Syndome

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.

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

That means a game plan is in play—part of yours will include:

  • knowing and stating who your ideal buyer is.
  • knowing and being able to communicate in 15 seconds what value your book brings to the reader.
  • discovering which social media platforms are used by your ideal reader/buyer.
  • identifying the top 10 influencers in your genre—your competitors—and following them in their social media platforms.
  • creating a website that gets new material added on an ongoing basis.
  • having a strategy of how and when you will communicate via social media (Blog, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) and following it. Social media is your town hall. If you don’t orchestrate and implement, hire someone who will.
  • determining what steps you will take to gain visibility for you/and or your book and implement a plan that you can follow.
  • understanding that if you can’t do the reach out/stay connected work, you will hire someone who will.
  • getting 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. 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 author isn’t going to do the work that is necessary to propel his or her words and won’t hire a virtual assistant or team players to make it happen, it won’t. Princess Authors need not apply.

Judith BrilesJudith Briles is a Contributing Writer for The Book Designer. She is an advocate for authors and writers and is known as The Book Shepherd. Delivering practical authoring and publishing information and guidance, she has authored 31 books, won multiple book awards and co-founded Mile High Press. Judith is the Chief Visionary Officer of

You can learn more about Judith here.


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