People who know me, know that I am quite the extrovert. I’ve previously worked in large organisations, in places with a lot of staff and external clients, with loads of meetings and social contact. I’ve always been one for a conversation, a meal, a drink, a laugh, a party…you get the picture. So how does someone like me manage in such a solitary career as writing?
Like most other writers I spend the majority of my working week alone. Just me and the computer. Even the extra work I do for money (the stuff I do to prevent myself from starving and being targeted by debt collectors) is a home business/email and internet contact only thing (yes it is typing and writing too). So how do I stop myself from going barking mad (this is of course assuming that I actually have been successful here and don’t just have some delusional belief that this is the case. Woof, ruff, snarl!)
Some suggestions for avoiding becoming a bizarre writing recluse:
Join your local writers organisation. In Australia we have a national body – Australian Society of Authors, and each state has a writers organise like Writers Victoria. Membership is reasonably priced and it offers the opportunity to access industry information and meet other writers.
Take a part time job or casual work. Not only do you have the benefit of a little extra money in the pocket, but you get to interact with other human beings and potential writing subjects. I undertake two three week stints of full time casual work with a University every year just to keep me sane.
Join (or establish) a writers group. Try to meet at least once a month. Its a great way to get your work reviewed, review the work of others, and swap stories (whine) about writing and the industry as a whole.
Arrange to meet up with a friend/family member/colleague at for lunch or dinner at least once a week. It means that you get out of the house, see another human being, and have something to put in that diary of yours.
Make the effort to attend at least one book event a month – be it a launch, a reading, a conference event or a free lecture. Stay involved.
Attend any training courses/programs and events which may be of interest to you. This includes going to any cultural/art/music events. Expand your horizons.
Join up and participate in various on-line author groups. It make take a while to find the one which is a good fit for you (and vice versa) but when you find the right group the rewards are endless.
Of course you may be perfectly happy being on your own! Do what ever feels right for you.
A question I’m frequently asked by family, friends and fellow writers is “Why do you still want to go through a traditional publisher when you self publish?” I have a number of reasons for wanting to take the traditional path. The most significant being that for me it is an indicator of success and acceptance by the wider literary community. Yes, yes, I know that this is strictly a personal belief and my not having traditional publisher representation doesn’t mean that I’m not an author. It’s a personal goal.
My other reasons for wanting a traditional publisher are about accessing marketing experience and most importantly an established distribution network – both of which are essential for attracting an audience and selling your book. For me, the pros and cons of Self-Publishing and Traditional Publishing are as follows:
You have a 100% chance of being published (and that’s a very nice thing)
You can choose to publish only e-books, or print books or both
You can publish short stories, serials, novellas, novels – whatever takes your fancy
You’re in control of the entire process
You determine your timetable
You received a significantly larger proportion of the royalties than if you went through a traditional publisher (Anything from 30-70%)
You will learn a lot about the entire publishing process from writing, to business set up, to printing, to marketing, to sales. This is an invaluable set of experiences (trust me)
You cover 100% of the cost
You take 100% of the risk
You’ll need to buy/pay for an honest opinion on the potential marketability of your book
You need to edit your manuscript very carefully and not rely on your Beta readers to do the work of a professional editor
You’re on your own in terms of marketing and distribution
It’s very difficult to get book sellers to stock your book/host book launches/host other promotional activities.
It’s very difficult to get people/professional organisations/journals/ and/or other publications of merit to review your book.
You’re in this together.
You’ll not have to make a financial contribution to the process (if you do then you’re not in a traditional publishing contract – beware)
With any luck you will receive an advance (depends on the size of the publisher, type of book and your experience)
You’ll receive advice on selecting the best possible cover for your book
You’ll receive a professional opinion on the saleability and appeal of your writing
You’ll receive advice/services from a professional editor (again you will need to do work here – human make mistakes no matter how good they are).
You’ll have access to people with experience marketing books, press releases, and media
You’ll have access to an established distribution network
You have a statistically low chance of obtaining a publisher (or even a literary agent) and therefore a low chance of actually being published
A traditional publisher is no guarantee of sales and success
You’re in a contract and will be expected to understand and comply with that contract
You need to give up some artistic freedoms to produce a product that fits with the publisher (Suck it up – they’re doing this to try and sell your book)
You need to fit in with their time frames and demands
You received a significantly smaller proportion of the royalties than if you were self published (about 5% but it varies)
Don’t expect an easy ride. You’ll still need to work hard to promote your own book!
Good luck! Strive to do what’s best for you and your writing project.