Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Looking at the big picture...

Yesterday, a writer friend (who will remain unnamed) phoned to vent a bit. "This business is like a slithering, mindless snake that eats you up," she complained. "No one tells you how your book is doing. No one communicates with you unless it hits a list!" On and on she went, making me smile. She's published four novels and is doing well with her career, but she was having a crappy day (which is certainly allowed) and...here I was.

She's right about how tough this business is, though. You can't just write a good story, throw it out there, and expect millions of readers to gleefully buy it. It just doesn't happen that way. You have to write that good story, but you must also be willing to plot and plan and network and self-promote.

Oh, and you have to love writing. Did I mention that?

As fiction writers, we get to invent people and places as we leap and fly and fall. We get to make it up as we go, sending shivers down reader's spines, making goose bumps pebble on their arms, making them laugh or reach for Kleenex as they cry. How great is that?! But here's my favorite part: when we lose ourselves writing a story that won't let go, we don't have time to worry about how we're doing in the big picture, and sometimes that's okay.

P.S. Note to friend - you're doing fine! You're making a living, you've hit a few lists, and you've had your novels published in eight foreign countries. Shake it off and get back to writing that story you told me about :)

11 comments:

Melissa Marsh said...

This whole writing thing is just hard. The writing, the business aspect, the marketing, everything. But I firmly believe that the rewards are worth it, and those rewards are varied - the process itself, holding your book in your hands, receiving letters from fans, and knowing that you are living the dream. :-)

kyla-dale said...

Your friend might have been havin a bad day, but she should check out MY BAD DAYS as an unpublished writer who would love to have that slithering snake take me on and give me a shot. Guess it's all relative though, a person's headaches.

Ramona in Maryland said...

I used to think, What's the big deal? You write 300 pages of a good story, send it to an agent or editor, or directly to a publisher and POOF you get to be a paperback writer (one of my fav songs!!!)

Not so. I've been writing for 5 years now and I'm not certain I'll ever get published. Did you know that only 1% of those who write are ever published?

The business side freaking terrifies me!!!!

Larramie said...

I am totally convinced that "writing" is the easiest and best part of being an author.

Heidi the Hick said...

Well Holly, once again...this post of yours comes along at a very good time for me.

wordman17 said...

The writing side sucks me in all the time; I'm addicted and can't not write. The business part of all this intimidates me though

(i've lived thru 18 agent rejections and it does flatten you to be told your work isn't makin the grade :()

ORION said...

This is a wonderful post Holly. It has been mind boggling to me to realize how much "other stuff" a writer has to do to after their book is sold and for their books potentially to do well.
It is NOT all about writing. It is about business too.
And speaking of business...
(Here is a plug to vote for Lottery on the Buzzometer on Publishers Marketplace!)
http://www.publishersmarketplace.com/BEALunch/

Holly Kennedy said...

Melissa -- I couldn't agree more. Writing a novel is painfully hard, and it doesn't get any easier with your 2nd, or (sigh) your 3rd

Kyla-Dale -- True enough. Billionaires have worries and stress as do those on welfare, and authors were once writers in your shoes, wishing they could catch a break. But once you do (and you will Kyla-dale -- hang in there) you'll see that there are other worries and concerns that take the place of those now sitting smack in front of you. It never ends...

Ramona -- nice to have you pop by (or stop lurking? *smile*) Yes, the business side of publishing can flatten some pretty strong personalities. But if you want to be published badly enough, you'll embrace it as much as you do your writing.

Larramie -- Well, today isn't a good day for me to agree with you when you say 'writing is easy' (although I must admit I DO have those days). Sadly, today was a crappy writing day :(

Heidi -- Good to see you over here, peeling yourself away from your photos of Johnny Depp!!

Wordman17 -- Ack, roll up your sleeves, and don't let it push you around. The business side of this world can be a lot of fun :)

ORION -- I voted for you and for John. Commenters, if you slip over to the link she posted take note that you must join SQUIDOO 1st before voting. It's free, though, so no big headache.
Good luck, Pat!!!

Travis Erwin said...

For all of us unpublished writers it is educational to hear everything that happens after the initial dream is realized.

Jsut wanted to let you know I used the comment you left on my blog about women's fiction as a springboard for my post today. Hope you don't mind, but your question got me to thinking.

I haven't read either of your novels but they are on my lsit to buy the next time I head to the bookstore.

Holly Kennedy said...

Travis -- thanks so much for stopping by again, and for your support. I hope you enjoy reading The Tin Box and The Penny Tree.

LadyBronco said...

It is always fascinating to me to hear how others are handling the business side of writing.
It's not something I hear a huge amount of, and the more I learn now the better off I will be later on.