Guest Post – Katherine Gilraine

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.

Kat Gilraine

You can find out more about her books at her Facebook page.
And her Amazon Author Page.

Bio:
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.

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7 Responses to Guest Post – Katherine Gilraine

  1. This is a great post and sums up all of my own thoughts on writing. As disheartened as I get at times, I can’t not write…it’s in my blood…it’s part of my soul…but it’s also a business and takes commitment and drive. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Marianne Su says:

    Writing is work…so true. It’s work we love, work we can’t stop doing, but work.

  3. T. James says:

    A direct and well written post… When starting a new piece of work the decision needs to be made whether you are writing for your readers, for yourself, or writing something a little unusual which you hope may be picked up when you finish it… For some writers this means they will dismiss many ideas because they don’t fit with their career goals; others may be attempting to produce quality work, but more for the creative buzz than for any real hope of commercial success. Some may do a mix of both, but there is no doubting that if you want to be more widely read you are going to have to put a lot of time into honing your craft and promoting your work.

    • Very well said.

      The thing that gets me, though, is that many new authors who are writing to be read on a mass scale are going into writing without doing any hint of research. That is a massive no-no, especially in today’s world. If we give 105% towards our writing being – at least in our own eyes – fit for publication, then shouldn’t 5% of that go towards researching how to best make it happen?

      I also do some mentoring for young authors. Some of the best work I’ve read so far tends to be from people who aren’t yet sure if they want to be published or not.

  4. Mardel says:

    Great post.

    I agree with a lot of your points. What stands out for me is the hard work of writing and the fact that it seems inconsistant and yet at the same time consistant about what’s selling. One of the problems is that publishers rarely want to take chances on different stuff, and yet it seems like many more e-books are getting word of mouth because of the differences from the “norm”.

    I tend to jump from point to point within the same paragragh – but I do want to say that it’s beginning to change – I remember how people used to feel about e-books, and selfpublished work – there wasn’t a lot of respect out there for them. One of the problems seemed to be the editing – but I’m excited to see that it really is changing – I’m seeing many more positive things being said about e-books and selfpublished work than ever before. So those of you hard working writers that don’t seem to be able to get picked up by the traditional houses, I encourage you to keep writing (of course, you know you HAVE to – you have characters in your heads!) and to explore the internet for other options. And that word of mouth – if you hear about or know a writer you think is good, keep mentioning that writer whenever you can! And write those odd stories that don’t fit in with the norm – because for every different “genre” there’s going to be people like me who like something different here and there. 🙂

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