There is a scene from The Doctor’s Wife that comes to mind as I type this. When the Doctor is explaining this is the Tardis and Amy says “Did you wish really hard?”
Are you really sure you want to be a writer? Really, really sure? It’s 12:24 on Friday night that makes this 00:24 on Saturday morning. I just finished reading an article on Steven Hamilton walking away from his publisher after 17 years.
The article that I started reading:
Business Musings: What Traditional Publishing Says It Does Best
And that lead to several more articles including this one:
From Publisher’s Weekly: Hamilton Ends Deal with SMP Claiming Lack of Support
What the devil does that have to do with me and why should I care? Oh dear, there are a lot of things that have to do with you and you should care. It discusses the future market place of books. A future that no one is sure which direction it is going in and some rude awakenings are happening. Both on the Traditional Publisher side and on our side.
I did warn you, you don’t just get to sit and type, toss out the manuscript to an adoring publisher who will roll out the red carpet for your dear little feet and thank the Gods of Writing you exist. It’s a bloody business and you have to pay attention or be road kill. Unless your name is J.K. Rowling or Stephen King. And if you are reading this, it ain’t. Heck it ain’t even Stephen Hamilton.
Contracts, well, suck. Oh yes, I know every unpublished writer would give their first-born for a good contract [at least when the first-born turns 14 and suddenly becomes a teen to be returned when they hit 21 or finish college.] but the sad fact is you do have to worry about this stuff.
Which brings me to the question of why on earth do you want to write? It’s Friday Night and I spent it reading about finite and infinite verb forms, infinitives, gerunds and participles to be continued tomorrow with gerunds and participles. Why? Because I got my butt kicked on the Verb section of a class I was taking. That clear understanding I thought I had? Nope. Nada. Shot to sh*t. You got the idea. So here I sit. Slowly reading my way through 4 websites, 4 books and 2 work books on finite and infinite and infinitives. Then on to the business side of writing to catch up on a few articles in the most recent version of Romance Writer’s Report. [You do remember I told you to find a professional organization and join it, right?] I think I had two pop tarts for supper but I don’t remember.
I know I took my medication because the Lupus is going after my left eye at the moment and if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be doing any of that. I would be lying on the bed with a cold compress on the eye and listening to a book being read by my Android tablet’s Moon+ ebook reader. It may not be an audio book but it works.
Is this the way you want to spend your Friday nights? How much are you willing to work and give up to get what you want? Never mistake it. As I pounded home, it is work. It is a learning curve. When you set down with published writers, especially the old timers who were in the business long before ebooks, Amazon, and ereaders, you suddenly realize that they are businessmen and businesswomen. Yeah, they write. Yes, we read their books. Okay, they make money at it. But they are business underneath that. They didn’t get where they are by having someone tap them with a magic wand and say “You are a writer.”. They earned every inch of it. And talking with some of them is like talking with a shark while you are just a minnow. They toss publishing contracts, terms, schedules, release dates, options around like a kid would a balloon. And you suddenly realize, you actually have to work. If you want to be where they are, you must pay your dues but you aren’t even sure where those dues will be any more because the world of publishing is changing.
Dues like sitting here at 1 a.m. on Saturday morning after finishing refreshing your failing mind about freakin’ verbs when, 40 years ago, you ran out of that last English class giggling, because embarrassingly enough, your ass got creamed on a quiz you could have passed in the 10th grade.
And unlike the Doctor, you don’t get to say “Shut up, not like that.”