I am a writer and this is a proper job!

girl-1064658_1920I have read a number of articles & blog posts about writing not being considered to be an actual job. Last week during dinner with a friend, she made the comment that I was semi-retired (not fully retired as I do some paid work at a University). I was a little taken-aback but let it slide. After all I wanted to check the definition of “retirement” to ensure that I wouldn’t be speaking out of turn if I objected to the label. My assumption about the meaning of “retirement” was confirmed, with all definitions implying that it means “leaving the work force”. I was left feeling more than a little annoyed.

I have not left the work force! As a writer I expect that I never will (assuming that my capacity to write remains). My part time/casual work is to get some extra money in the door, and is not the only work I do. I object to the assumption that I’m doing nothing and am available whenever anyone wants a chat, someone to visit, someone to go out with. I’m very busy!

Here are my reasons for believing, no, make that knowing, that writing is a full time job, and is my career:

  1. I work everyday. And I mean every day – even if it’s only for an hour or two.
  2. My standard work day is about 6 hours long. When you consider that those working in office jobs spend a significant amount of time lunching, having tea/coffee breaks, chatting with colleagues, attending boring non-relevant meetings, I think that makes us even.
  3. I get paid. And I get paid regularly. It may not be much, but I get a cheque every three months from the distributer of my children’s book, a monthly payment from the bookstore where my book is stocked, and a payment from Amazon/Kindle at the end of every month.
  4. I’m published. You can google me/my titles.
  5. I’m considered to be an author/emerging writer (by industry definition).
  6. I participate in professional development courses related to my business.
  7. I belong to a writer’s group and various formal writing and publishing organisations and groups.
  8. I am listed as a writer/author/publisher on my tax return, legal documents and census details.
  9. I have a business plan (really I do), business card, business email, business website, an accounts system, an Australian Business registration number, and an EIN (US tax number).

I am in business. Writing is my job, my career and my passion.

So there!

I know that I sound like a bit of a stroppy cow, and in reality those who believe that I do nothing all day is limited to that particular friend, some distant acquaintences and my mother. I really believe that it’s important that we value work in any and all of the arts industries. Being a writer is more than a job, it’s a career and a way of life.

Perhaps some people are jealous that I (we) have taken the risk and are trying to make a living doing something we love.

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Indie Publisher and Self-Published Authors: Hidden Gems

During 2015 I read and reviewed over 60 books for this blog. When I looked over what I  read and how they were published, over half of the books were either self published (by an individual or through an author’s personal imprint  – their own publishing arm) or published through small independent press organisations. Of the books I rated as four stars and over (all categories), two-thirds fell into the “indie” pool. (The lowest rated books were split evenly between indie and big commercial publishers – interesting in itself seeing how self-publishing is widely panned as low quality).

It is marvellous to see so many authors publishing their works using a non-traditional path, but equally sad that they are not getting a look-in with the Big 5 (or at least not yet). The big advantage of signing with a Big 5 traditional publisher is the access to marketing and distribution networks – basically the big publicity budget, know-how and contacts.

As a result of only being able to access small-scale marketing and distribution, many excellent works are going unsold and unread. For example, when I contacted  an author of a particularly good book I read last year, to ask if she had print copies for sale (I would have bought five immediately to give to non-kindle users), she advised that she did not have the funds to do a print run (even a relatively cheap POD option through Createspace). Sad but true, and a tale I personally can relate to.

Still it is best to struggle on your own than fall into the trap of paying often in excess of ten thousand dollars to publish with a vanity press company (stories for another day – no I haven’t been suckered in, but I have been approached three times with dodgy deals in the last six months!),

So I guess the take home message here is not to ignore the indie press/self-published offerings. Give the 99 cent book a chance. Review them on Amazon/Good Reads/LibraryThing/site of choice, and most importantly, recommend the book to your friends.

 

Don’t give up and stick to the path!