Of course there are far more than one…but today I’m going to spill about one in particular that’s been giving me fits over the past several months. It’s this: The most beautifully written words, sentences, paragraphs, and pages the world has ever seen won’t matter a bit, if you can’t get a handle on the business side of being a writer.
It’s the dark horse truth that’s always been a factor in any author’s career, but it’s particularly apropos in this newer age of professional self-publishing (i.e. self-publishing that will approximate in quality and form what traditional publishers produce).
Very few will mention this dirty little secret. Most “writerly” discussion is about the work, the words, the characters, plot, themes, message…of writing from the heart and bleeding onto the page (represented by the colorful half of this brain). And all of that is good and necessary for the first leg of the writing journey that ultimately results in pulling a completed novel from an author’s head and placing it into a reader’s hands.
But it’s only the first half. The whole second half (represented by the not-so-colorful half of the brain in the illustration…since I don’t like the second half and I want it to come across as plain, boring, and uninteresting 🙂 ) is glossed over, like it doesn’t exist.
And maybe that’s because it really didn’t used to exist – at least not very tangibly – for authors during the era when the only path to publication was through the great gatekeepers and traditional publishing. Back then authors relied on their agents to do the work of negotiating and managing financial issues (for 15% of all gross earnings, beginning with advance and continuing through royalties), and the publisher, with its vast employee list, took care of all of all the nitty-gritty elements of bringing a book to market (for the measly fee of 100% of the profits, shifting down to 92% of profits, once the author’s advance was earned back for the publishing house). Even so, there is something to be said for the trade-off.
This business side of writing is not something that makes me comfortable and all cozy, like I prefer to be (reference my warm and fuzzy posts like the one here and here. Or venture over to the search box just above my picture up on the left toolbar and enter in words like “cozy”, “love”, “nostalgia” or “warm”. You’ll see posts about the things that make me happy). But it’s a necessity.
Having to set up accounts at Amazon, CreateSpace, B&N, Kobo, Google, AllRomance, and iTunes, complete with tax ids and all sorts of technical information – having to think about a business plan, building and maintaining an online presence and platform, and keeping track of all the miniscule aspects that go into a book being available for purchase, like hiring out and working with a cover artist, editor, formatter, and conversion expert, and then reviewing e-files and formatted files, while also keeping track of how much money it costs to complete all those processes without getting into a financial hole one can never dig out of unless one’s book becomes a bestseller (which would be great, Universe, if you’re listening!) – all give me figurative hives. And it all takes a large amount of time, which as a person who really inhabits all of the roles listed under my picture up a bit and on the left, is in short supply.
But unless I’m going to be the only person who is ever going to read my book, it has to be done.
So there you have it. One of the dirty little secrets of being a (self-)published writer. I’m not very good at keeping secrets (I’m a “wear-my-heart-on-my-sleeve” kind of gal), so I feel better already, having shared it, LOL.
I’d love to hear your thoughts about this – or even one of your secrets (it’ll be like a self-help program!) Anyone have any (rated PG-13 or lower, please) to spill – whether as a writer, reader, artist, employee…heck a breathing human being? Join the fun in the comments. 🙂