Wednesday, November 29, 2023

So--You Want to Be an Author! by Tina Cho

Before I start today's post, can you please do me a favor? If you enjoy reading the Grog Blog, can you please re-subscribe on the right side of this site in the blue box? Our email subscription service quit a while back, and so we've had to figure out a different way to get our posts out. Thanks so much!

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:

   1.     research

   2.     go on research trips

   3.     write

   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?

 Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE being an author. But some tasks I like better than others. That might be true for many of my writing friends. But all in all, just like having a baby, you kind of forget all the sweat and work to birth a book. And once you hold it in your hands, it's true love.

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 Haenyeo 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. @Tinamcho

Tina Cho, finding her book at Pottery Barn Kids


  1. Tina, this is so true! So many daily tasks go into being a writer. And so many writers -- like you -- have day jobs as well. None of it is easy but the rewards are sweet.

  2. So, so true, Tina. One never knows what another persons job entails.

  3. I don't mean to be's Mona!

  4. Tina, great post. People forget it IS a job even as it is a creative endeavor! We balance so much that newbies may not be aware of! TY.

  5. You forgot to add "procrastinate" to your list. I think every writer does that!

  6. This is such a good post, Tina. When I started out in writing, I had no idea. Balancing it all with a full time job, as you do, totally astonishes me.

  7. Oops -- I didn't mean to be anonymous, either. At least I'm in good company with Mona!

  8. Thank you, Tina, for sharing the reals of writing. Lots of food for thought.

  9. Great post, Tina. I was surprised by how much time goes into "marketing" activities: sending out press releases, setting up blog tours, etc. Sometimes setting time aside for writing is hard to do when you also have other responsibilities. So here's to all the writers who get words on the page! (raising mug of hot coffee)

    1. Very true, Sue! And marketing isn't one of my strong points.

  10. And sadly, much of our work goes uncompensated! Thanks for the reality check.