Writers are an interesting lot because they aren't usually what we imagine them to be. There is an air of mystery surrounding them and their profession. We picture writers as people who lock themselves up in a dimly lit room, fingers tapping away on the keyboard writing the next big hit. Or maybe you imagine a writer to be on an island using the backdrop of the crashing ocean waves as inspiration for the future bestseller they are sure to be creating.
I have my own glamorous notions of writers and their surroundings that inspire them to produce great works, but that's not my life. I'm a writer, and I neither live on a tropical island nor sit in a dark room with only my laptop for days on end. Authors, in reality, are more like you and me, everyday people living normal lives.
I write in the middle of the chaos of my living room. I stay up late to write in the serenity of the night and wake up early to squeeze in an hour of writing before my family awakens. I do these things because that is what I have to do to follow my passion and pursue my dreams.
My goal is to write a story I want to read, a book I would pay money to read. I don't write with money in mind. I don't write to cater to the latest trend in genres. I write what I like and hope that one day others will like it, too. Knowing all of this going into the writing process frees my mind from stifling outside influences, and allows me to focus on the story I want to tell.
When you write from the heart, you're fulfilling your passion which is part of creating your destiny. That is what makes a writer and drives them forward when they are not receiving a paycheck to do so.
As a novelist, I concentrate on the words that best express my story, but I discovered that my job does not end at The End. That's the half way point as a published author because unless you are one of the big name authors out there today, you are not paid to write novels. You are paid when you sell books. This is a change that has come about in the last ten years or so, and something to think about before setting out to become a published author. This profession has changed from a purely creative endeavor to one where you will also need to manage the business side of your career. Some writers transition easily between the two, finding balance, though most will find selling their book much harder than writing it.
I can admit after spending time analyzing trends in popular book buying, luck has a lot to do with finding big success in the publishing world. But even if you don't have that instant luck, you can still take steps to ensure your book is seen and encourage buyers your way.
A marketing plan should be developed soon after you finish writing your first draft. This may seem like an odd time in the process, but it does two things: gives you the mental break from your manuscript so when you start into edits, you will have a fresh perspective. Writing the plan at this stage will also provide you with an awareness of where you want to sell your novel and pinpointing your audience. Having these valuable tools in mind is necessary to figure out how to position your book in today's rapidly changing marketplace.
So are we writers or book sellers? The answer these days is both. It is not as simple as writing a novel and releasing it into the world anymore. It takes work beyond the writing to sell copies. It may take more writing or blogging, tweeting, and an abundance of social networking to let the world know your book is now one of eight million available online. Sounds like a tall feat, and it is, but you can do it. You wrote with passion. You put your all into every word you wrote. This novel is your baby and readers will love it, but they have to find it first. Now you have to decide if you are ready to dedicate an hour or more every day to promoting your book because it deserves it, but remember to balance your writing life. You have two roles to play, two distinct aspects of publishing to focus on - writing and selling books. Are you up for the job? Consider both aspects before you jump feet first into the publishing pool.
The knowledge of what you are getting into will keep you sane and more importantly, keep you focused. It's not easy to stand out in the masses of choice the book buying community have at their fingertips. Believing in your work, producing the best product you can, and backing it with time toward promoting it may not bring you a seven-figure payday. But knowing you supported your story the best you could, is a victory and can lead to bigger success because now you are a published author. Enjoy accomplishing this goal, but don't rely on it. The business side of publishing now begins.
Part two of The Road to Publication series will be a celebration of having a finished first draft as well as the steps to prepare the manuscript for submissions to literary agents and traditional publishers, and what is needed to self-publish.