We’ve all heard that in the current publishing environment you’d better enjoy the process of writing because publishing can be an elusive goal. I think this is very true. But can we really like every aspect of the job? And what is the job? Outlining before-hand, for some. Writing, obviously. Revising. Attending critique groups. Revising. Submitting. Attending writing conferences. Revising. Submitting. Reading in your market niche. Revising. Submitting. Blogging. FaceBooking, for some. Outlining. Writing. Rinse and repeat.
My dad once told me that I probably wouldn’t like 50% of any job I chose. I think that figure is a little high unless you’re a masochist. But still, I don’t approach every aspect of my job with the same joy. I don’t approach the same aspect with the same joy on different days, but the work has to get done. Some days the ideas just won’t come. That’s a good day for revising. Some days you just can’t face going over that manuscript another time. That’s a good day to write something new.
Sometimes I let it slide a little, reading instead of actually writing or revising or submitting. That’s a good way to “refill the well,” but if I do that too many days in a row I start to go a little crazy.
News Flash: Writing is hard work. (Everyone reading this blog probably knows that.) So is revising. And submitting. They use very different skill sets. Different writers approach them with varying amounts of dread, but they all have to be done.
What about marketing and promotion? If you’re good enough and lucky, you’ll sell to one of the larger publishers where a good deal of this will be done for you. They’ll still want you to blog and have web presence, but they’ll often help you with that. If you sell to a smaller press, more of the task will fall on your shoulders. And if you decide to self-publish, your job description expands to include pretty much everything.
A commenter on another blog said she’d rather cut off her arm than do the self-promotion necessary to be successful as a self-publisher. I sympathize. It’s not my first love either. I have mixed feelings about this comment though. On the one hand you could say she knows herself and her limitations. Self-publishing isn’t for everyone or for every book. On the other, you could say she’s turning her back on an entire set of possibilities because she doesn’t like one aspect of the job. An aspect she could hire out if she really didn’t want to do it (and could afford it).
Janni Simner made a good observation concerning this. She said she’d rather work on the next book than take time away from writing to do self-publishing’s necessary design and marketing, or pay someone else to do it and wind up with a sub-standard product.
I don’t think the sub-standard product problem is a given, but the time issue is a valid one. Life is short. If you choose to self-publish you have to spend time educating yourself at least enough to hire the right people, or to do the job yourself. This is time that could be spent writing and revising and submitting to traditional publishers.
Every business has grunt time. As writers we spend it perfecting our craft and doing taxes. Some things aren’t fun, but are the foundation of getting us where we want to go. (Which for most of us is having people read our work.) Time spent marketing and doing promotion are part of the job of writing for the self-publisher. (Although some people enjoy it, I suspect that as introverts, most writers don’t.)
Time is precious. Spend it wisely.