Which author’s career do you want to model yours after?

I ask this question of my authors from time to time.

Not to duplicate someone else’s path, but to emulate their successful trajectory and get a good idea of where they think their own career is going–and to make sure this matches my vision for their career.


Margaret Atwood: Writer of serious nonfiction, fiction, literary advocate and champion of libraries.

Jeffrey Eugenidies: Write one book every ten years.

Harper Lee: Write one timeless book.

Danielle Steel: Write one book a year.

John le Carre: Write with a pseudonym (his real name is David John Moore Cornwell).

J.K. Rowling: Create a blockbuster franchise! But, also go it alone in the ebook world.

Raymond Chandler: Master of pulp fiction.

Try to peel away the layers to see how they got there. There is no singular path to publication or the type of career you wish to pursue. And in that pursuit you might be taken in a different direction altogether, but when you start to picture yourself within the canon you want to grow into the steps seem smaller and more attainable.

There are many career and genre styles in between these! What’s your trajectory?

Published by Carly Watters

Carly Watters is a SVP, senior literary agent and director of literary branding with the P.S. Literary Agency. She is a hands-on agent that develops proposals and manuscripts with attention to detail and the relevant markets. PSLA’s mission is to manage authors’ literary brands for their entire career. Never without a book on hand she reads across categories which is reflected in the genres she represents and is actively seeking new authors in including women’s fiction, commercial and upmarket fiction, select literary fiction, platform-driven non fiction and select memoir. She occasionally represents children's book projects. Carly is drawn to emotional, well-paced narratives, with a great voice and characters that readers can get invested in.

8 thoughts on “Which author’s career do you want to model yours after?

  1. Who wouldn’t love to be a blockbuster franchise? But for me, I’d like to grow into it. I’d hate to feel like I hit my growth potential on the first book(s). But I’d also like to do cross genre writing (maybe even some under a pseudonym – J.D. Robb/Nora Roberts style). I’d think putting out 2 books a year would be a good start and then moving up if as appropriate or maintaining depending on the writing – is it improving, stabilizing (which is worse than getting poor), or running downhill.


    1. Haha, yes who wouldn’t love a blockbuster! I put that in there to dream big ;)

      I like the pseudonym idea, unlimited opportunities for writers that just want to write!

      Two books a year, you must be a quick writer! Good on you!


  2. Is Harry Potter out on e-Book? I didn’t know that. Plus, it might do to mention that she may not have done her e-books on her own if she was in any way shape or form reliant on the sales they’d produce. If she needed her e-books to pay her rent, she might have looked for help. :)


    1. That’s why she held back on the ebooks, to build on her print brand and let that carry into ebooks. It is a fantastic marketing idea. She looked for help in interesting ways: former HarperCollins exec and literary agent helped project manage her ebook franchise Pottermore.

      But you are right, she’s the exception, not the rule!


  3. I had never thought of asking myself this question! Thank you for posing it.

    I’m not sure how much control I’ll have over determining my own path, but I do like to look to authors that I admire to try and figure out what they did to get where they are. I definitely don’t want to pull a Harper Lee, but not sure I’d be able to pump novels out like Danielle Steel. Maybe somewhere in between? Thanks for making me think :)


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