Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Ten Things About Writing Most Writers Don't Love

by Pat Stoltey, who loves writing most of the time:

1. Writing takes an enormous amount of time with no guarantee of success. The best advice a writer receives is “Don’t give up your day job.”

2. In order to get published, a writer must write a whole book, revise it multiple times, self-edit the final draft until it shines, then make another round of revisions and editing changes (or two) to satisfy an agent and/or editor.

3. Finding an agent and/or publisher could take years because the competition is fierce, the submission process is cumbersome, and writers are prone to procrastination.

4. Many agents and editors don’t send confirmations when they receive a query or partial, and many don’t send rejection notices. They employ other torture devices as well: offering pitch sessions and slush pile critiques at conferences, taking submissions only on referrals, or conducting public floggings (often called critiques) on their blogs.

5. Once a contract is signed with a traditional publisher, it can still take eighteen months or more for the book to be released (assuming the publisher doesn’t go out of business before the release date, opening the whole new problem of getting your rights back).

6. Self-publishing gets a book published faster, but there are additional expenses involved and the amount of time required for book promotion is even greater. You still won’t be able to quit your day job.

7. The publishing and bookselling industries are changing so fast it takes hours of reading to keep up. Hours of time you don’t have, by the way.

8. Non-writers think all writers make a lot of money. This one always cracks me up.

9. Most writers don’t make a lot of money. Many writers spend more money on editors, supplies, organization dues and conferences, and book promotion than they make in advances and royalties.

10. If a writer gets lucky and produces a bestseller, he will be inundated with requests for free books, blurbs, whole manuscript critiques, public appearances, blog posts, interviews, and money. Success at last?

18 comments:

Margot Kinberg said...

Pat - Those are definitely things not to like about writing. But.... we still do it! We still love writing - or at least I do. But then, can you imagine what most books would be like if they were written by people who didn't love to write?

Michelle Black said...

Pat---you have nailed it! Everything you list is so very true. (or should I say, sadly true?) We must all be crazy, right?
But then we get our first fan letter...and our spirits soar again.
Michelle Black
www.TheVictorianWest.com

M.J. Fifield said...

So, so true. Especially #8. I keep telling all my non-writer friends that but they still dream. =)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Makes you wonder why people sign up for the insanity.

Patricia Stoltey said...

Why do we sign up for the insanity?

Because the fantasy/dream is stronger than reality, because we need to do something to quiet the voices (sometimes called ideas) in our heads, because writing is just plain fun, because we can't help it...

helen said...

all true, but when ya gotta write ya gotta write and one will forge through...thanx

Chester Campbell said...

I like No. 9, Pat. I remember back when I was told you start making money on your fourth book. I've published seven and I'm still looking.

Kenn Amdahl said...

I know why I write. One of my books was very slow to find an audience. My income from it was not worth the time spent by any measure. Then I got a letter from a teacher in NY after I'd done a videoconference with his fifth grade classs. The letter said, "Ten years from now, my students won't remember much about their fifth grade year. But they will never forget the day they got to meet the author of Jumper and the Bones."

How much is something like that worth?

j.a. kazimer said...

Ditto every single one! Excellent post, Pat. If only we made enough cash to support our writerly habit.

HeidiTownMayor said...

And this doesn't even tackle the things freelance writers don't love about writing!!! #1 being that people are constantly asking for free work!

Cindy Keen Reynders said...

Great observations! All too true.

E.J. Wesley said...

This made me smile in a devilish sort of way. On the positive side, it's probably a vetting process that will leave only people who truly love to write when the dust settles. Or maybe just the masochists? : )

Patricia Stoltey said...

There's a whole new crop of potential authors in our middle schools and high schools, most of them participating in NaNoWriMo each year. I'm sure they wouldn't believe one word of this post.

Karen Duvall said...

Great post, Pat! And all very true. Even after you're published you have to do the revise multiple times to please somebody. But number 2 is the best "don't love" point because though it's not always fun (sometimes it is, believe it or not), it's always a learning experience. What doesn't kill us really can make us stronger.(Though there are times during the synopsis quadruple rewrite process that death has a subtle appeal.)

Haha, my word verification is "kabak." I like that word. I'm gonna write it down.

Allison Knight said...

Number 8 has my vote. I don't know how many times I've heard, "What do you mean, you can't afford it? You're a published author, aren't you?"

Daven Anderson said...

#10. "inundated with requests for free books, blurbs, whole manuscript critiques, public appearances, blog posts, interviews, and money."

It takes an enormous amount of hard work to get to to #10, and your task load will multiply in geometric fashion once you reach that lofty perch.

There were many reasons why James Brown was the hardest working man in show business. The best-selling author will become acquainted with every single one of them (and more!), whether they want to or not.

I fear nothing. I work in retail.

Tamela Buhrke said...

Number 8! I keep hearing this from all of my friends. "Remember us little guys when you are rolling in all your millions."

Heh. Is that why I'm working so hard at my day job and using spare time to write, edit, and market?

Susan Paturzo said...

I procrastinated on reading this until today, LOL. I have found that there is nothing like keeping my day job to motivate me to write -- because it reminds me every day that it's not really what I want to do with my life!

These all rang so true, great post.