I’ve been really lucky lately. My local libraries stock my books, and the one just own the road from me in Andover asked me to come along for a sci-fi author day they’d set up.
Being me, I was naturally nervous. I’m not your average sci-fi author. My reading is never what anyone would expect from a science fiction fan (though my viewing definitely is).
With the state of the industry, in this constant flux of new and reinventing, it’s even more difficult to be an author. Writers who are aspiring to put their books out there via traditional methods, self-pub, or even small press have to study their market and the landscape with renewed zeal every few months.
Imprints are bought up and/or restructured, the traditional market is full of subjectivity that is difficult to time well enough with what you’ve written in order to break through. It’s not impossible, just very hard. You have to have written the right thing at the right time, and sent it off to the right person at the precise moment that means it’ll get into their hands when it’s just what they’re looking for. Traditional publishing lends a sense of validity amongst the community, a sense of storms weathered and dues paid.
It’s all possible. All of it. I’ve had two agents. I’ve found that person twice. But agents are just the first step, and editors receive so many submissions that the odds are even slimmer once you’ve passed that first hurdle.
On the other hand, while self-publishing is completely viable, there is a disparity when it comes getting your name out there. With Amazon’s huge crack down on reviews, even lining up ARCs in return for honest reviews is now a hit and miss practice. Getting your name out there requires countless hours of networking and just hoping it pays off.
Or else, it requires that somehow, somewhere someone sets off a chain reaction by loving your book and having it spread like wildfire. There are ways to combat this, and one is to put out a lot of content, set the first book in series to $0.99 or else to permanently free. Thing is, doing those can be hazardous to how seriously you’re taken within the industry.
Become a hybrid author and hope you can use each of them to your advantage. Balance. Everything needs to be balanced precariously.
The list goes on, and the truth is that being a writer is exhausting. It’s mentally and emotionally taxing. There are days when you just want to give up, when you think it’s not worth it, when you seriously wonder if you need to write the story at all because, after all, you already know it, right?
There are days you want to throw it in, where the luck train just seems to keep skipping your stop or else running over you on the way to pick up everyone else.
And then you face the reality of quitting. What it’s really like when the stories won’t leave you alone. How you hear a song or else see something that just ignites this idea that won’t let go…
It’s then you realize that you can’t give up. It doesn’t matter if no more than one thousand people ever read those books… because they’re yours and you want to share them with people even if it’s not as many as you could wish for.
Where am I going with this?
I got asked what advice I would give a young person who wanted to be a writer, what advice I would give someone wanting to pursue being an author…
I had to think. I had to stop myself from screaming: TELL THEM TO RUN AWAY.
It’s something I’ve been battling lately. Because when it all comes down to it, I don’t feel that way.
So I answered: Read, read everything you can get your hands on. Write from the heart and tell the stories running rampant in your mind. Don’t write to market because you think it will sell – because the books you see on the bookstore shelves were bought two years ago, and now the houses are buying something different. Write what you love and hope it aligns with what they want. And remember, as the world continues to evolve there are more and more ways that, when you’re ready, you can share your stories with the world.
But most of all,
Write because you need to
Write because you want to
Write because you love to