The Audubon* Field Guide to Unpublished Writers
Ahh, the unpublished author! These majestic creatures are surprisingly common, but often overlooked due to their camouflage strategies and adaptive behaviors. If you’ve been lucky enough to spot one in their natural habitat (cheap bars and shallow, filthy gutters), consult your Audubon* Field Guide and see if you can identify the specific subspecies!
Authorial Nymph (Scriptor juvenilia)
The undeveloped author is a charming creature! They lack the distinctive plumage of their fully-developed cousins and must be identified by behavioral cues.
With wide-ranging habitats and migration patterns circling from their parents’ nest to semi-abandoned buildings and slums and back again, they can be observed in many different settings. Learn to recognize:
- Self-deprecating references to “maybe writing the Great American Novel some day!”
- Part-time, minimum-wage jobs.
- Long-suffering spouses.
- Blogs with only two posts from like three years ago.
The S. juvenilia is a harmless and unaggressive creature by nature. However, avoid provoking them by asking “what do you plan on doing with your life?” or “are you still at Wal-Mart?” They can become vicious when intoxicated and depressed over their failings in life!
Common Aspiring Author (Scriptor domesticus)
The Common Aspiring Author is a migratory creature, and can often be found switching between genres, publication methods, and social media. Developed adults may have begun to show distinctive plumage, though many retain the camouflage of their nymph state and prefer not to tell their parents yet.
Look for S. domesticus in its natural habitat of small apartments, blogs with daily readerships of <100, and long-term relationships with people who earn a real salary. Distinctive features may include:
- Social behaviors, primarily with other S. domesticus, including mimicry of S. pactum (see below).
- Foraging among blogs and Twitter accounts for helpful links.
- Displays of plumage at social events: “Oh, I’m a writer. You know. Just little stuff.”
- Periods of hibernation, during which S. domesticus locks itself in its room and drafts/edits obsessively
S. domesticus is the friendliest and most easily-trained of the aspiring authors. It can be taught to mimic specific behaviors, especially when rewarded with small paid-by-the-word salaries. It can, however, become irritable during hibernation periods, and often uses these as a way to end a courtship or mating period.
Authors Awaiting Reply (Scriptor neuroses)
This less common species has distinctive plumage (frayed), habits (unpleasant), and life cycles (submission – rejection – submission – rejection). It is distinguished from its lesser cousins by a more evolved writing style and a more extended social network, which it cyclically alienates.
S. neuroses are most commonly found in bars, face-down in gutters immediately outside bars, or huddled into a small ball in their blankets, rocking back and forth. They typically go into intensive periods of revising in between submission and rejection cycles. S. neuroses is a very distinctive creature! You will recognize its hallmarks easily:
- Semi-permanent abodes (until the rejection cycles exceed the rent cycle).
- Strained but sustained relationships with stable partners (sometimes).
- Obsessive collective of trade journals, agent and publisher business cards, and slightly shady How-To books/websites.
- Life cycle typically ended when a S. pactum (see below) replaces them, or they drink themselves to death.
S. neuroses are delicate and nervous creatures! They should be handled with care, primarily by never mentioning their agent/publisher/periodical search or how it’s going, or by doing anything that could possibly jeopardize their latest pursuit of the aforementioned agents/publishers/periodicals.
Contracted Authors (Scriptor pactum)
The contracted author is a rare and splendid creature! It frequently fans its vibrant plumage, reminding everyone nearby that it has a solid contract and can in fact expect real wages for its work. S. pactum has an unusual relationship with other species of unpublished writers, which both imitate and envy it.
S. pactum is usually unmistakable in its natural habitats (bars, gutters outside bars where it mumbles happily to itself, and anywhere else that people have to listen politely to self-centered babble, such as therapy and the confessional). Look for its bright plumage and its characteristic behaviors:
- Name-dropping (publishers and fellow authors, mostly).
- Repeated crowing on its blog.
- Brief panic attacks when contracts appear unstable.
- Dispensing advice with extreme confidence and authority.
- Being able to speak to their parents again.
S. pactum can be a difficult creature to live with, but offers more stability in its environment than the other aspiring authorial species. It makes a good long-term companion for anyone seeking colorful character and elaborate preening behaviors! A steady diet of congratulatory cocktails is essential to S. pactum‘s health and happiness.
*The Audubon Society had nothing to do with the publication of this guide. However, we like to think that James Audubon could have made a pretty sexy sketch out of our editorial staff’s portraits. Now, which species are you? Leave a comment!