What does it mean to be a writer? Let me feel you in a little more about living the life as a writer:
- Excitement. I love creating with my pen (or uh hmm, computer).
- Research. A "real" writer does it. In other ages, writers could get by working only with their imaginations. Today, readers want as near to truth as a writer can get, along with all those fictional settings and characters. One nightmare for a writer is to have a knowledgeable reader discover a "mistake." No, that illness will not cause immediate death. No, that Native American tribe would NOT act in the way a writer described it.
- Besides research, there's editing (and I edit and edit). Some other do it. Never quit. And I certainly know that feeling. Even now, if I go back over completed and submitted novels, I would find areas that I'd like to change and recreate. You have to learn to quit.
- There's brainstorming. One of the hardest things for me. Okay, I can get ideas, I can write them. I can edit. I can quit. But when it comes to nitty-gritty, give-me-more details, I call on critique partners to brainstorm with me. We suggest ideas together, work through those ideas, keep, discard, change, and eventually to with some of them. Great helpers, critiquers are.
- Submitting. If you're fortunate enough to secure an agent, all the better. Thankfully, the first agency I approached accepted me as a client. If there's a good working relationship, it's a wonder to behold. A good agent is on top of the publishing world. They know what editor just left his/her post, what's being accepted, where to send your manuscript. They will negoiate for you when you get a contract. They'll call you on the phone when you need to talk. Some do critiques and help you sharpen your work even more. They'll sympathize when rejections hit you. They'll rejoice with you when good news come your way. They're worth their weight in gold.
- Marketing and self-promoting. Most writers would rather not ever have to bother with this. BUT in this age, it's a "have-to." If you want to see another contract (and just because you get one, doesn't mean you're gonna get another). Speaking engagements, tours, constant pushing yourself (your books) out there with libraries, bookstores, booksignings, internet marketing, etc. It's required!
Yeah, I shrink and shiver at the thoughts of this last one. I'd much, much rather let someone else do it. But it's not to be. So, in spite of the fact that I'd rather be writing, and that it takes my precious time away from writing, all that stuff has to be done.
One other thing I wanted to mention in this post that might clarify things a little for some of you. There's several ways of publishing. Here are a few with very brief descriptions:
Traditional, larger presses: Where you get an advance, royalties and some promotion.
Smaller presses: possible advances (not always), royalties, less promotion, but some, depending on the amount of money available, lots of promotion with the internet and sometimes even e-publishing instead of print.
Vanity: writer must pay to have book published. There are some of these publishers that are legit, but not a lot. Depending on what you pay, is what you get in marketing. Very little, if any editing, is done by publisher. Unless one is satisfied to JUST have your book printed without expecting much else, this is not the best way to go.
Self: There's a lot of ways to go about this. I self-publish hubby and my own children's books. For now, this is a good way to go for us. In a small way, there is quite a bit of selling and recognition. This is a perfect way for someone who wants to write a family memoir type of book. For local writers who want to give or sell to mostly friends and family.
Of course, if you want to and have the dough, you can always have a printer print up your work. Takes more money, and sometimes it's not that much more professional looking.
Got any questions? Feel free to ask. I'd love to talk more about writing!
What can be done at anytime is never done at all. --English proverb