Last weekend I had the wonderful opportunity to sit in on what came to be a humbling experience.
Have you ever had an interest in something and spent so much time reading it, talking about it, and even doing it that you had the gall to believe that you were well versed in it? Not too far out of a concept to consider, especially in my case with creating this blog (although I acknowledge that I’m also still trying to figure it out).
It’s our own hubris to believe that we’re the know-it-all’s of our chosen interest because we’re the most knowledgable out of our friend circle, family, or just people around us in general. Well, I cannot stress the importance of stepping outside of that comfort zone and interacting with people who are waaaaaaaaaaay more seasoned.
Receiving notice from my friend at Scrawls and Spirits (who wrote about her experience as well HERE) about this seminar, we both ended up going; and I got an amazing amount of information out of it. Especially the cold hard truth that I knew but needed it reinforced by people who had spent decades in the business.
Being a published author isn’t just about your story.
It’s not a very complex idea right? But then you take a second to really think about the different particulars required after writing your manuscript.
- You need a proofreader to check over your grammar (possibly a separate copy editor to provide critique on the flow of your story)
- Who is the audience for your novel? Have you given thought to the ‘elevator pitch?’
- How do you classify your story? What’s the genre?
- Are you going to self publish, provide content online, or go through traditional avenues for publication?
- Do you need a literary agent to help query the best fit for your novel? How much does that cost? Are you willing and able to do the legwork yourself if you can’t afford it?
- Are you prepared for rejection letters for your manuscript and editors not wanting to give you a chance?
- Have you put thought into the facts that most authors get cents on the dollar for every copy of their book and how much you need to sell to break even?
- Where do you want to sell your book?
I haven’t even scratched the surface of the line of questioning that you should consider (I wrote A LOT of notes) but all those bullets above are literary food for thought. My biggest takeaway from the day long seminar, as I asked questions and listened to the trials and tribulations of actual writers and published authors was that this career field was just like every other in the sense of the level of hustle required to get yourself off the ground. There’s no denying that it’s a business; and like any other business it requires a feat of entrepreneurship akin to working a full-time job.
I really think that amateur writers such as myself with goals of actually existing in that line of work, as well as people on the outside looking in, romanticized the process of writing and what comes next. We think that a brilliantly crafted story will simply get chosen out of the ether or something. That a great guiding light will somehow deliver it into the hands of someone with influence who will see it and love and ensure that we get our just dues.
Reality is much more real.
So for right now, I need to ensure that what I’ve written (both my novel created from NaNoWriMo as well as another half done project I want to finish) both become polished and well worth the read. I’m ready and willing to take the necessary steps after that to hustle towards where I need to go.