Sunday, October 28, 2007

writing is easy

Writing is easy. Ask anyone who visits a bookstore. In fact, it’s so easy that many people think they can do it better. How hard can it be? You sit down at a computer and just type away. No boss telling you what to do. If you want a drink or a break, you take one. You don’t even have to worry if things are spelled correctly because you have spell check. Then you send it to an agent who makes sure the book gets printed and into the stores. In the meantime you’re living easy on the advance check. Now all you have to do is sit back and wait for the money to roll in. Yep, writing is easy.

Now, let’s talk to a writer. The writing of the book is the easy and fun part. Then you have to either edit it yourself or pay someone to do it because spell check doesn’t catch it all and grammar is even harder to catch. Then you have to send off dozens of query letters to agents to find one that may look at your manuscript. Advance? Hah! Only the big name writers get that. All too often a writer either gives up, or goes POD, or Print On Demand. This is the latest in self-publishing. This ends the easy part of a writer’s life. Now it’s time to start promoting. Yes, the author does the promoting. If you are very lucky you may find an agent or publishing house that will do this legwork, but it’s doubtful.

You buy or make business cards. You develop a website and/or blog. You put a signature line on email. You make brochures and pass them out along with your business card to everyone you see. You may even have to call the bookstores yourself.

This is not a 9 to 5 job. You spend as much time as you can doing the promotion. Only office people get to be fortunate to have forty-hour weeks. When you’re not promoting, you are off doing the article writing or whatever writing jobs you can find, just to earn a living. As for the royalty checks, well, maybe you will be one of the lucky ones that earns a three figure check twice a year.


Anonymous said...

Boy, Ron, you nailed it
with "writing is easy." Good article. Nice glog.

Pee Wee

JanetElaineSmith said...

If I didn't know better, I'd think you'd been there, done that.
One little thing, an agent almost never helps with promotion. Their job is to find a publishing home for the book, then you are on your own, so you still have to do your own promotion--unless you are John Grisham, Stephen King or Nora Roberts! Even Mary Higgins Clark has to go out and pound the pavement with her books. If you want to find somebody to help with the promotion, you are talking about a "publicist"--and they don't come cheap! I wonder if anybody ever recovers more from added sales than they have to pay the publicist. Hmmm, food for thought!
Anyway, I have said this many times, but I will say it again. Writing the book is the easy part. Getting it to sell is the hardest work I have ever done, but it's also by far the most fun one!
Good topic, and well done!
Janet Elaine Smith