June 18, 2005

The Business of Writing

What does writing fiction have to do with business? Everything! Unless, of course, you don't care about being published. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that. But there's a difference between writing for pleasure and being so arrogant that you think your self-determined talent puts you in an imaginary bracket of writers that don't have to be concerned about the business side of things.

A lot of newbie writers take rejection personally. This is understandable, but usually after collecting a nice binder full of NO slips, they tend to either give up or develop the necessary thick skin required to continue. What's worse, is a writer that takes the publishing industry machinations personally. "Why should I have to make sure my manuscript doesn't have any typos? Why should I bother finding out the name of the agent/editor I'm sending my work to? Why should I follow the format EVERY OTHER PUBLISHED WRITER ON THE PLANET follows? My talent is so immense that shouldn't matter. How dare they!" Joe Newbie then ironically follows this with a diatribe on the arrogance of them. (Them being anyone who would dare try to apply any type of metric to Joe's work, instead of just sending him a fat check and a box of hardcover editions of his book.)

The silly part of this is that unlike a lot of other areas of writing, everything is laid out perfectly for the writer. Every publisher and agent provides guidelines describing exactly what is required to submit to them. There are reams of material on how to write book proposals, query letters, synopsis' and outlines. And despite spending months (sometimes years!) writing their masterpiece, some writers won't take five minutes to look for any of this. The old Comedy adage "it's all in the delivery" would be well taken by newbie writers. Heck, I've been telling my daughter since she was five that it's not enough to be smart, you have to show it.

Like it or not, writing is a business. While publishers, agents and editors may indeed love books and writers, the bottom line is they need to make money. Just like any other business. As a writer, you have to wear two hats: an artist's beret and a businessman's fedora. If you can't be bothered, then write your masterpieces and stick them in a drawer. It will make the wait time for the rest of us shorter.


Kira said...

I just realized who you are from Absolute Write. I've been reading your blog, completely unaware.

Clayton said...

please update, I want to know more

Marty said...

Hey, guys. I'm still alive, but life has been bashing me a bit. Among other things, I just had double hernia surgery 10 days ago, so I'm still a little weak, but getting better. I should be back up to snuff in a week or so. I'll try and post in the next few days to bring everyone up to date. Thanks for visiting!

-- Marty