Many people think the life of an author is exciting because you become rich and famous for having written a book(s). Perhaps so, if you’re J.K. Rowling with a world’s bestselling series. But for ordinary, non-famous authors like myself, an author’s life is still very exciting but filled with lots of tasks that aren’t even writing.
Let me describe to you the writing tasks of today, the day after Thanksgiving. First, it started with a creative call on Zoom. An MFA graduate student interviewed me about haenyeo (Korean diving women) and my work with The Ocean Calls. Then, I spent an hour and a half inspecting sketches for one of my forthcoming books, God’s Little Oceanographer (PRH Waterbrook 2025). I love seeing the illustrations, but this also included revising sidebars to fit within the pictures.
Afterward, I signed one of my work-for-hire books that’s going out of print. I had posted on social media that the publisher sent me a box of them. So I was selling them cheaply to get rid of them. I packaged up the books and ran to the post office.
Then I took time to fix my poorly neglected blog. The email subscription service I used is no longer in service. So I had to figure out how to install a new one. After that I reviewed an author friend’s forthcoming book and wrote a short review for Good Reads. And now I’m writing this blogpost and still need to revise my own picture book manuscript. I’ll save that for tomorrow. Phew! So much. And that’s because I have the day off from school. (I teach fulltime.)
So here’s a growing list of tasks an author might do:
2. go on research trips
4. market their books on social media
5. critique other stories
6. creative calls on Zoom
7. review sketches/illustrations
8. sign books
9. mail books at post office
10. order/design bookmarks & stickers
11. plan/schedule author events
12. do author visits at schools
13. read new books to stay current with the market
14. write blogposts and articles
15. be interviewed & interview others
16. speak at a library or other events
17. write book reviews for other authors’ books
18. email with editors, agents, & publicists
19. create and maintain an author’s website
20. connect with readers on social media or in person
21. participate in critique groups online or in person
22. attend writing conferences
23. take writing classes
24. teach writing classes
25. write a lesson plan or activities to be used with their book
26. getting picture taken for an author photo (to be done many times over the course of a writer’s life)
27. listen to authors’ podcasts and webinars to grow in the writing craft
28. radio, newspaper, and TV interviews
29. plan for a book launch
30. find new book ideas
Whew! And if you think of more tasks an author does, leave them in the comments! So after reading about all the nitty-gritty, are you SURE you still want to be an author?
So go forth, write, put on a smile, and finish all those writing tasks waiting for you!
Tina Cho is the author of Rice from Heaven: The Secret Mission to Feed North Koreans (Little Bee Books 2018), Korean Celebrations (Tuttle 2019), My Breakfast with Jesus: Worshipping God around the World (Harvest House 2020), The Ocean Calls: A Mermaid Story (Kokila/Penguin Random House 2020), and God’s Little Astronomer (PRH Waterbrook 2024) & God’s Little Oceanographer 2025. Her lyrical middle grade graphic novel, The Other Side of Tomorrow, debuts from Harper Alley September 2024. After living in South Korea for ten years, Tina, her husband, and two kids reside in Iowa where Tina also teaches kindergarten.
Tina Cho, finding her book at Pottery Barn Kids