What Goes in to Being a Writer

I’ve wanted to be an author nearly my entire life (excluding the first three years, when I’m pretty sure my life goals were more along the lines of “nap” and “avoid napping) so getting picked up by my agent(!!!) was just about the most incredible thing to happen to me.

However, I’ve known since high school that writing isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  All that “writers spent all day in their dressing gowns drinking champagne” (thanks, Terry Pratchett!) stuff is, of course, as nonsensical as it enticing, but more importantly, writers don’t even get to be Jo March, or Jane Austen.  It’s not enough to just write the books, you are also in charge of everything else, even if you go the traditional route, like I’m hoping to.  (Fingers crossed!)

After

  • writing
  • rewriting
  • querying agents (or going straight to submissions yourself)
  • and submitting your manuscript to publishers

writers are also expected to do the lion’s share of promotion, which includes but is by no means limited to: contacting media sources and asking for review or interviews, creating and maintaining your brand and the brand of your book or series, coordinating a blog tour, maintaining a social media presence, arranging for indie bookstores to carry your novel, and organizing publicity events that might draw readers.

As you’ve doubtlessly heard a million times (even I’m kind of sick of it) writers tend toward being introverts.  When we get into the field we expect to be Jo March- send off manuscript, receive money.  So the rest of the work that comes with being an author comes as something of an extremely unpleasant surprise.

Luckily, I’m an intense over-researcher, so while I might not be ready for the specifics if (when?  Fingers crossed SO HARD) I get picked up by a publisher, I at least have a vague outline of what I’ll be doing with all of my non-writing hours.

My favorite resources for what life will be like if (when! Fingers crossed!) I get picked up by a publisher (aside from the occasional blog post that I have bookmarked, I mean) are

  • Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog:  I think she’s more independently published (to be honestly, I don’t know a lot about her books at all) but her blog posts are AMAZING.  She talks a LOT about the business of publishing, from branding to audience building and, scariest of all (for me) how dangerous the world of publishing can potentially be.  She does a lot of fine-tooth-combing of other author’s contracts and how potentially dangerous some wording can be for authors.  I really admire her fierce promotion of author’s protecting their interests.  It’s such a constantly-changing field and we’re all such small fish it’d be really easy to get taken advantage of.  Kris is trying to give everyone the tools they need to avoid that.
  • Bookends Literary Agency’s blog: This is less in-depth than Kris Writes, but if you’re just starting out, Bookend’s lead agent (who does most of the posting) has good advice about querying and beginning your career.
  • Author Earnings: This one can be pretty intimidating, but it’s basically a project to give authors a better idea of what they can or should be making.   The numbers sometimes freak me out, but they do their best to make it accessible even to those of us who aren’t really number people.
  • Writer Unboxed: On Writer Unboxed they cover a huge range of subjects, from the business of Writing to the Business of writing.  It also runs the spectrum from information for beginners to deep-dives into publicity.

I also follow a ton (feedly says 19 total) of blogs by different individual authors, group blogs, and even one or two by small publishers.  I don’t read every blog post, of course, but every one of them has information I think will be helpful if (when!  Maybe!  Fingers!  Crossed!) I sign a publishing contract.

Where do you do your writing research?  Do you follow and useful blogs?  Does Kris’ information about contracts scare you as much as it does me?  Let’s commiserate in the comments!

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