As I enter my third year of blogging (my first post was on January 17, 2012), I find I have to search my archives before I write so I don’t repeat myself.
I was going to write a post today about having goals for your writing, but found that I had written a post in May 2013 that said much of what I was thinking today—the need for writers to have goals, to act on them, and to keep track of one’s progress toward meeting those goals.
All that is still true, so I urge writing friends to read that post.
But here is a little different slant, now that I have another several months of writing under my belt:
Balance is also important for a writer. (Whoops! I’ve said that before, too—in a post discussing the need to balance the writing of blog posts with other work that a writer wants to sell, such as short stories or novels or poetry.)
What I mean by balance this time is not the balance between blogging and other writing, nor the balance between writing and other important facets of life, like family and friends and other worthwhile endeavors . . . and even a day job if it is needed. What I mean this time is the need to balance—or maybe to juggle—the creation, the editing, the marketing, and the networking required to be successful in one’s writing today.
Some writer friends and I had a long conversation last week about how difficult it is to be all things to your writing. In today’s world, most writers have become their own editors, book designers, publishers, and marketers.
Being a writer in the 21st century involves far more than putting words on paper (or computer screen)—and that is difficult enough to do! Now we must be entrepreneurs, responsible for all aspects of the business that is our writing.
After creating that initial draft, the writer must edit the work until it is publishable. Few agents or editors will even look at a manuscript that isn’t already polished.
Moreover, so many writers are writing so many manuscripts that the odds are slim that anyone will even find an agent or editor and be published by a traditional publisher. If a writer believes his or her work is ready for publication, the writer may decide to eschew finding an agent and/or editor. Self-publishing has become an easy and inexpensive route, and one that is increasingly accepted, for both print on demand books and ebooks.
But once the book is published, the writer then becomes responsible for getting it seen. When there is no publishing house, there is no one to forward copies to bookstores, no one to write and send out press releases or contact book editors, no one to schedule book signings, no one to do any of the countless tasks of traditional book marketing. Each writer must decide how much time to devote to all these activities and how much time to reserve for writing.
And that is what I mean by balance, by being an entrepreneur. Each writer is a business of one. For introverted writers (and that is most of us), entrepreneurship is difficult.
I say all this not to whine. The changing world of publishing is what it is. I simply mean to point out that no one is expert in everything, and the learning curve is steep. Therefore, writers must learn the right balance between the various aspects of writing, publishing, and marketing to be successful.
The balance is different for every writer and for every book. We keep at it because we think we have stories to tell.
Writers, what is most difficult for you about publishing in today’s world? Non-writers, what did you learn about publishing from this post?