How to Identify an Up-and-Coming Author

Some people think authors are easily spotted because of their glamorous lifestyles. Sleeping late, being interviewed, going to extravagant launch parties, winning awards, and being paid oodles of money. But only famous authors live like that. The rest of us are ordinary people, living lives of relative obscurity.

So, how can you spot an author in the making? Is it something to do with writing books? Well, it’s actually a bit more complex than that. In fact, it requires a quiz.

Here are seven not-so-serious questions to help you identify an up-and-coming author.  

Photo by Jessica Lewis Creative on

1 Do they have dubious followers?

Their social media following must include at least one person – or bot – claiming to be a celebrity. Promising authors often have multiple famous ‘actors’ following them. The social media platforms do crack down on these from time to time, so they are less common than they used to be.

Alternatively, they can prove their status by being followed by a horde of bikini-clad women. Who almost certainly aren’t who they say they are either.

And there’s another alternative for women with author pages on sites like Goodreads. Check if their following is at least ten per cent single, middle-aged men looking for love. Because that’s what book websites are for. Obviously.

Any, or all, of these types of followers are a good indication of an author in the making.

2 Have they been targeted by a scam?

The most common scam involves copying book product pages from a large retailer’s website. Criminal gangs add these to fraudulent websites, to trick readers into giving up their credit card details. Apparently they think readers are more likely to pay a website they’ve never heard of, than use a well-known book retailer.

A bonus point if your candidate has been targeted for the more exclusive scam – the blackmail email. These are sent by someone pretending to have hacked the author’s accounts. They claim to have proof of something the author hasn’t actually done. Payment in cryptocurrency is demanded to keep the fictional deed secret. 

Not sure why criminals bother with these. Most authors don’t have that much money in their bank account, never mind a cryptocurrency account. But they only have to receive one of these emails. Losing money in the scam is not necessary to prove their authenticity as an up-and-coming author.

3 Have they had an epic failure of a book event?

This can be a reading, author talk, or book signing. As long as it’s supposed to have an audience. An author recently posted on Twitter that only two people had attended her book event. Neil Gaiman replied that she’d beaten his worst event turnout by… two people. 

I wonder, is it absolutely necessary for the author themselves to turn up? But I’m getting off-topic. The point is, an author event must have been arranged, and it must have been embarrassingly under-attended. A bonus point may be awarded if they received a consoling comment from an already famous author (see introductory paragraph). 

4 Have they achieved ‘bestseller’ status?

There are two ways to reach this dizzying height, depending on the publishing route taken. An indie author can request their book be added to an Amazon book category that has a small number of other titles in it. Assuming no-one else in the same category launches on the same day, there’s a good chance of hitting the top spot, in that category, on that day. They may not stay there, but that’s not the point.

Traditionally published authors just need their publisher to pay a bookstore to place their book in the bestseller chart. They don’t actually need to sell any books at all.

Remember, this is not about selling books, it’s about perception.

5 Do they have a blue tick?

If you are not on Twitter, you won’t know what this means. And frankly, if you are on Twitter, you may not know what this means.

Anyone can now buy a blue tick to go next to their name whenever they post something. It tells everyone they are famous and worth paying attention to. It doesn’t matter what they post, as long as people are paying attention to it.

The blue tick used to be for verified notable people. But now it is a good way to spot potential future notable people too.

6 Do they have a strong opinion on outlining?

There are two kinds of book writers. The plotters, who use outlines. And the pantsers, who do not. There is no right or wrong way, either can be successful. But that’s not the point. An up-and-coming author must have an unshakeable view of which way is better. 

7 Do they own a vast quantity of stationery?

There is some debate in the writer world about whether pretty notebooks are actually meant for writing in. But there is no debate about how much stationery an author should own. If they have more notebooks, pens, sticky notes, highlighters, and folders than anyone needs, they have the makings of an author. 

Even for those who write solely on a computer. Or via a speech to text app. A stationery hoard is essential.

Do we have a winner?

If your candidate scored at least five points, you have identified an up-and-coming author! And now you can tell everyone that you know them. Because they almost certainly be famous soon.

Oh, and the book thing

OK then, if you must. You could also find out if they have any books published. Or on the way. If you want to get technical about it.

Any other thoughts on what might qualify someone as an up-and-coming author? 

If you write books, how many points did you score? And when do you consider yourself to be an author? 

Serious answers are welcome too!

Enjoyed this post?

You might also like: The Agents’ Code.

Why not check out my travel mystery series on Amazon. Or follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads or Bookbub.


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