I want to welcome Katherine Gilraine to my blog today. I met her on facebook and she’s fabulous. Today she’s going to talk a little about the business of writing.
The Business of Writing
You may think that writers are everywhere. Maybe they are, or maybe they’re not, but considering that the Internet has us reading a lot more than before, people are a lot more aware of the presence of writers. The e-readers have raised that awareness even more. And the number-one question I hear from readers, personally, as a writer is, “How do you just… do that? How do you just…write?”
Well, why do we, the writers, do what we do? The best answer I can give is this: we have a story to tell. We have something to say, whether or not it’s fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or just a simple op-ed, and the words of what we need to let out of our systems do that much better on paper, or on a screen. If the story needs to be let out, let out it will be. And of course, some stories are longer than others, which is why people can crank out one book after the next.
Now, this brings me to the second thing I hear the most, which is an invariable turn of, “It must be so easy for you!”
No. It is not. Why? Because above a passion, a calling, and a creative outlet, above everything else, writing is work. It’s a career path. It is a business, and needs to be treated as such.
Considering that writers receive payment only when people purchase their product, which is whatever story they have published, the writer needs two things: continuing royalty sales, and continuing release of product. Read: keep writing, and keep writing to sell. This effectively puts the writer in the position of being “on the clock” nearly 24-7. There’s no real time off if you’re a writer, because if you are writing to publish, you’re on a deadline, and if you aren’t and you’re looking to get a story out of your head, you invest a lot of time thinking about it.
Also note this often-unstated fact: no one really knows why or what makes books sell. In today’s world, which is steadily growing to be more and more online, the authors have a lot more marketing muscle to flex, and it shows. We see Twitter ads, Google+, Facebook, and all of this contributes, in some way or another, to the sales of an author’s work. However, there is no magic formula for a best-seller.
Which brings me to the third point, and that’s the fact that people – usually non-writing readers – romanticize writing. An art form, a calling – yes, it is those things, and more. But the notion that that is all it takes to make it as a writer is ludicrous. It takes a hell of a lot of work to produce a book and to sell it. And, if you’re self-pub, you will continue to work to sell it well after it’s published in order to earn the payoff you want. And even then, there’s a good chance you may not make the money you want to make. In order to do so, you have to treat the art of writing as the business of writing, and these are two sides of the same coin that are impossible to separate. The art cannot be in the public eye without the business aspect, and as soon as the author will put his/her work up to the public, the entrenching into the business begins.
There is one very good part about all this, though: you learn fast. The information is all over the ‘Net, and authors are an incredibly supportive community. You learn the ins and outs of managing your writing as a business, and that gives you a marked sense of security in navigating the waters of making a career of your writing.
We the writers all come into it with passion. We know what makes us write, and we know our stories, and perfect the art of telling them. However, the business aspect of writing cannot be ignored, especially if we want our writing to be a career path as well.
When Katherine Gilraine heard the words, “You can’t be a writer!” she replied with, “That’s what YOU think!”
Mind you, she was three years old at the time.
Always putting pen to paper, or words to screen, Gilraine had decided to enter the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in 2006, and while working night shift and taking 18 credits in her senior year of college, she wrapped up the first draft of the first installment in her sci-fi/urban fantasy series, The Index.