Monday, February 9, 2015

So...You Want To Be A Writer?

What a noble ambition! You've decided you'd like to share your stories with the world and are definitely sure you have what it takes to write the next Pulitzer. I'm happy for you. Deciding what road to travel and setting specific goals to attain that brass ring is admirable.

However I'm just wondering if you are remotely aware of what it takes to be a writer. Do you have the necessary skill requirements? How about command of the English language? Have you brushed up on proper grammatical usage and sentence structure?  Are you articulate, imaginative, daring, perhaps even provocative? Can you spell?

If you've be able to say 'yes' to at least a few of these questions, then you may have a shot. But now let's take a hard look at what it really takes to consider such a career. Are you prepared to spend hours upon hours alone with your tablet on your lap staring at an empty screen? Are you willing to turn off your cellphone for long periods of  time so as not to be disturbed by family, friends, social responsibilities? Will you have the guts to turn down fun weekends because you have a ton of editing to do?

If you've managed to sidestep the torture and temptations I've mentioned thus far and you actually do complete a project, are you ready to tackle the next phase of authorship? A publisher is required who will actually give your work the time of day, or if you decide on self-publishing, you'll need to educate yourself on how to go about it. Self-publishing isn't for the faint of heart though. You'll either have to hire someone to do it for you which can be quite costly, or maneuver your way through the complicated maze of formatting and editing.

Okay, let's assume you've dodged those bullets and are ready to choose a cover for your emerging masterpiece.The old adage, 'you can't judge a book by its cover' is hogwash in today's visual society. The cover of a book is what determines how successful that book will be. Are you an illustrator, graphic designer? If not, it's now time to find a great artist because a good artist just won't cut it.
And unless you personally know of one, expect to spend hours involved in a very frustrating search. In my experience, I've hired a few illustrators that I believed would design the perfect cover, only to be disappointed and have to begin this tedium all over again.

The glorious day has finally arrived! Your book is finished, edited, formated, and is donning a fabulous cover. You present it to the world on Amazon, Apple, Book Nook, and more. You've told family and friends it's now available for purchase. All that's left is to sit back and watch your sales climb. Right?

Wrong! Now the hard work actually begins. There are millions and millions of books up for grabs, and effective marketing strategies are the key to having folks choose your book. What to do? You can hire a marketing company, take advantage of all the promotions going on daily, or try to sell on your own.

The first two suggestions can also be very expensive, and the third idea simply won't work. Finding groups comprised of authors whose works are in the same genre is a great way to spread the word about your book as well as to form professional bonds with like-minded people. In many instances, these men and women become lasting friends who are an excellent source of knowledge and experience. Seasoned authors are a remarkable bunch, eager and able to assist emerging writers in any way they can.

Finally and perhaps the hardest part of being a writer is dealing with rejection. Either your book won't sell, or worse, folks will buy it and then give it an atrocious review. Your beautifully-written, exquisitely-covered 'baby' is deemed ordinary, maybe even less than that, and horror of horrors, the disgruntled reader is demanding a refunded.

So...you want to be a writer? Are you sure?