Sunday, March 29, 2015

Why Writing Isn’t a Full Time Job (for most)

It struck me when I recently saw some comments on a few social networking sites that there are a lot of different ideas of what a writer is.  Even among writers themselves, there is a wide range of ideas and hopes when it comes to writing.

Myself, I think of being a published author as the book nerd’s  version of the pro athlete dream.  Droves of people around the world sit pounding out words into stories with the dream of someday making it big.  That does not apply to all writers, of course.

The simplest reality of being a writer is that it is damned hard to be published and earn money from it.

With the growth over these last years of accessibility to self-publishing, the very landscape of publishing has changed in leaps and bounds.  Not that long ago just the mere mention of the words “self” and “publishing” together in an online post risked being immediately mobbed, tarred, and feathered by others in the online community accompanied by rants about vanity presses.

For the unpublished, being published was like a secret club that you just could not get into and self-publishing was treated like cheating.  Somehow, you were breaking all the rules if you wanted to self-publish and those who followed them seemed in large numbers to resent that.

For the most part that attitude has changed in these past years, self-publishing is still becoming increasingly more accepted, and has been widely embraced by many who long to be published authors.  You will still encounter those who argue on what actually makes an author, how many books qualifies you, what kind of publishing, how big the publisher has to be, and whatever criteria they personally place on it.  Others will say that if you wrote a book, published or not, however it’s published, you are an author.

No matter what kind of author you are, what genre, how you are published, or the quality of your writing or book cover, there is one reality all writers share.  Making money doing it is damned hard.

Networking is imperative to success, just as it is in any business and many occupations.  Whether you are published by a big publisher or self-published, writing for magazines or business, or any other market, for the large part you have to promote yourself and your writing on your own.  Even the big publishing houses have limited budgets for promoting their writers and books.  There are reasons they tend to stick to publishing guaranteed successes, and that is just one of them.

Sales is also all about supply and demand.  The explosion of self-publishing has over-saturated the book market.  With the glut of books over-saturating the market, you are very small in a big world of books, a single tiny voice in an overwhelmingly huge mob.  To get sales you have to get noticed.


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