Wednesday, November 29, 2017

NaNoWriMo: What it takes to be a writer...

I hope everyone is doing well on your NaNoWriMo goals. You are, right? Since we are at the end of the month I thought I would share a bit about being a writer. So here goes.

  • First off, people seem to get really hung up on when you can and can't call yourself a writer. Some same (a) if you write, you're a writer (b) others say, if you publish you're a writer (c) others say if you earn a full-time living you're a writer.  What's the correct answer?  Take your pick. For me, I think if you are writing then you are a writer, but if you have specific goals that will make you feel like "you made it," then by all means set those goals and work toward it. The important thing here is you have the opportunity to define what the term "writer" means. The outside world doesn't agree on a definition so use the one that fits for you.
  • Second I often hear people say, "I want to be a writer, but I don't want to market." Okay, fine, I understand that sentiment, just realize that if that's the approach you take you're going to struggle and you certainly diminish your chances of "getting anywhere" with your writing. There are a lot of things we do that we don't like. If I was in the housebuilding industry could I tell my foreman, "I like to frame walls I just don't like to drywall or paint them." If I were my own boss (contracted labor) I could do that, but I'd earn a lot less money as it'd be harder to find jobs that let me pick and choose what areas I will do and what I don't.  If I worked for a company, my boss would likely tell me, "That's nice to know, now go tape those drywall seams!" In other words, publishing traditionally won't absolve you from marketing (the marketing team has only a small window of time to focus on your books as each month a new set of books are released). And if you are self-published, you are going to have to do something to get people to know your books exists as otherwise you are the proverbial tree falling in a forest with no one to hear.  So, what if you still say, "I hear you but I'm not going to market...period." Fine, you can still write. Nothing stops you from doing that, but just realize that by making that decision you won't likely have readers. "But I want readers!!" some might say. To that I respond, "Well, then you have to work for them."
  • Regarding self-publishing...I have a small group of indie authors I'm a part of and there was a discussion about whether or not you have to pay for editing and covers to be a writer. Going back to bullet #1, the answer is no. You are a writer just by the fact that you write. Let's say you don't care about money...okay, fine. Post your stuff for free and ask people to read it. In such a situation it can have typos and bad formatting, and be a little rough. People understand they get what they pay for, and since they aren't paying anything, they'll understand if the work isn't polished.  But...let's say you want to publish...well now you've crossed a line to a different level, and from my perspective that line comes with extra responsibilities. When you ask for someone's hard earned cash, they deserve a quality product. And that means you need to invest in covers and editing. "But I don't have the money for those things" some may say.  My first response is..."well I don't have the money for a private jet, so guess what...I don't get one." But when I was self-published and I didn't have the money for editing we cut back and saved.  Cut out beer for a few months, or stop eating out, or forgo desserts. You can get decent editing for $350 (for 100,000 words) and I've seen exceptional covers for $250.  How long will it take to save $600?  For some that may be a very long time...so decrease the time by taking on extra work. Hand out flyers, walk dogs, clear brush--there's always people looking for manual labor on the side. But let's say you disregard my advice and you put out a book without investing in covers and editing? Well, then don't be surprised if (a) your book isn't found by anyone (b) it is torn apart by the few people who do find it because the quality is poor  and (c) you don't grow your career because you lack repeat buyers. 
Bottom line, writing is like anything, it comes with a price. You may like the idea of "writing and doing nothing else" but that's a fairytale. If you don't want to do what's necessary...then stay a hobby writer. Nothing wrong with that. But if you want to make a living from your writing then you have take all that comes along with it.

That's my 2 cents at least...now get back and finish your 50,000 words.

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