Currently I am working on editing an author’s book that is to be published next month (by another publishing house—not Roundtable). It’s science fiction, which is a genre I’m not that familiar with, as sci-fi never held any fascination for me, either to read or to write. But working on this book has gotten me thinking about the genre overall. Inarguably, despite the fact that I am not a fan, it has a wide following. Why?
As a prolific author—I’ve had over 100 books published since 1993—I understandably have a number of different publishers, of which Roundtable is one. And as an author who wants to sell the books she writes, I do what I can to promote them, including going on various radio shows—mostly podcasts (internet radio)—to talk about my books. Just last week I was extolling the recipes in STEALTH LEFTOVERS, one of my cookbooks (cookbooks are just a small part of my output), which was published a few years ago by Roundtable.
There is much to love about the freelance writing life, but one of the perhaps under-appreciated aspects is how much you get to learn about a wide diversity of subjects.
So I was supposed to do a booksigning and reading—two picturebooks from two different publishing houses (neither one from Roundtable)—and I thought I had all my ducks in a row. Since the books weren’t returnable, the bookstore that was the venue for the event said I would have to pre-purchase and bring the books in myself, a condition they had stipulated for my previous signing there, and therefore one that didn’t take me by surprise. I ordered the requisite number of each of the two books from their respective publishers and sent out notices to my “local list” (friends, associates, clients, and others I know who live in my area), alerting them to the signing and saying I hoped they’d show up.
If you’re a fellow author or thinking of becoming an author, I hope you’re comfortable doing public speaking. The two kind of go hand in hand.
That’s not as true for short-form writers as it is for book authors. But book authors often do public readings from their books to help get the word out about them, and nonfiction writers in particular (and fictioneers to a lesser extent) also appear on radio and TV.
I don’t remember now where I read it, but I just recently read somewhere a comment on the memoirs of two famous people of the past. It seems that one “invented” a boat that didn’t really exist, while the other left out any mention of numerous sexual affairs he had had.
Variety is the spice of life—and I definitely like my life “spicy.” I would hate to have a career in which I did the same thing over and over all day, every day, day in and day out.
“But, Cynthia—you write and edit. All day, every day, the same two things,” I can hear you saying to me now. You’re wrong, however. Continue Reading
Today is February 14—Valentine’s Day. So I’m sending love to all you readers out there.
Where would we writers be without our readers? We’d be “playing to an empty house,” to borrow the vernacular of the theatre.
If nobody read our books (and articles and poems and essays and miscellany), we’d soon be out of business. We’d have to find “job jobs”—we’d have to be bank tellers or teachers or store clerks or security guards or flight attendants or sales reps…which, in fact, some writers are already, working their day jobs and then writing at night with whatever energy they have left. But we’d ALL be in that boat without our readers.
You readers out there not only contribute to our financial well-being but give us an outlet and an audience for our creativity. And we love you for that. Hence this Valentine.
Want to show us you love us back?
Buy a book!
Happy St Val’s Day!
A connection that may or may not be real occurred to me recently, and I thought I’d run it by you. How much truth do you think there is in this statement: Many people who are dissatisfied with their lives prefer reading fiction over nonfiction because through fiction they can escape to alternate lives. Many people who are happy with their lives prefer reading nonfiction over fiction because they have no need or desire to escape their own realities.
“It must be wonderful to do nothing but write all day. No boss, no job, work in your pajamas, just sit at the keyboard and write.” Thus sayeth many people. But they’re wrong.
Yes, the life of a writer IS wonderful. But it’s not what you imagine. Let’s take it from the top.
First: Many writers still have dayjobs. They work their 9-to-5s, come home, have dinner (and often have to cook that dinner themselves), and then, at the end of an exhausting day, have to summon the energy to sit, focus, and spend an hour or two or three or more writing—writing instead of spending time with whoever they live with (spouse or S.O., possibly kids) or with friends who are beckoning them to do something fun.
Second: Even of those of us fortunate enough to be able to be full-time freelancers, many do other kinds of writing to help support ourselves. I for one do freelance business writing, ghostwriting books for clients, editing books and other kinds of writing for authors and for publishers. I don’t just work on my books all day.
Third: Writing a book is only the beginning. Once it’s written, you need to find a publisher unless you’re planning to self-publish. Finding a publisher involves sending either a query letter or the whole manuscript, along with a well-crafted cover letter, to a variety of editors at publishing houses, then waiting…and waiting…and waiting. You might get an answer. You might never hear back. If you do get an answer, the odds are in favor of a decline (rejection). You don’t just send your book out and—bingo!—get a contract. If you’re self-publishing, you need to find an editor, a cover designer, a layout artist, and a printer. Although you can find them all in one package with a self-publishing company, you will pay a CONSIDERABLY higher price than if you negotiate for each item with individuals or companies that do that kind of work. Then, whether you publish conventionally or self-pub, you will need to read through the edited manuscript to be sure you are OK with all the edits, and you will need to read through the page proofs to be sure no screw-up was committed. Reading your own words yet again—and again—is tedious but necessary.
Fourth: Whether you self-pub or are published conventionally, it’s on you to publicize the book. Otherwise how do you expect potential readers to find it? You might do any or all of the following: Send announcements to everyone you know and, if you have previously published another book and have the names and addresses of some of the people who bought it, send announcements to them of your new book; send out press releases and other publicity; try to get on radio (including podcasts) and TV shows to promote the book; write an ongoing blog in hopes of attracting readers; join such sites as Goodreads and Amazon’s Author Central; hold book-readings and -signings; do anything else you can think of to promote your book.
Fifth: You are your own boss, but don’t think you don’t have a job. Writing IS your job. Treat it like one. Yes, you have the luxury of booking a visit to the nail salon in the middle of your workday, but don’t overdo it. Don’t take time off frivolously. You need that time to WORK. (And writing IS work.) Take it seriously. It’s a FUN and WONDERFUL job, but it’s a precarious way of earning a living. Unless you have another source of income—a dayjob or at least a side job, a monthly Social Security check, a working spouse who earns a decent dollar…unless you have some other form of income, you are going to be doing some serious nail-biting as you wonder whether you’ll be able to meet the mortgage or rent bill.
The life of a writer is wonderful but precarious. I wouldn’t trade lives with anyone else. But it isn’t what many non-writers or wannabe writers imagine it to be.