Friday, November 12, 2010

Friday! Filler! A Stolen Meme!

It's Friday and I got nothing for a post and I have deadlines at the office (because yesterday was a national holiday for us Yankees and I wasn't exactly diligent on Wednesday either, truth to tell) so I'm very busy. But! But, I say, but! On Michelle's personal blog, she talks about how she originally had a mental image of the writing life and the publishing world that were, let's just say, a bit on the fantasy side. Though it was a pretty fantastic fantasy.

Anyway, today I'd like to hear your answers to this question:

What's the most surprising thing you've discovered about being a writer or about the publishing industry?

I'll start: The most surprising thing I've learned about publishing is how little money there is in it for writers. I thought that you wrote a good book, a publisher paid you enough for it to live on for a couple of years while you wrote your next book, and that was the way the rest of your life went. Hah. Also, things in the publishing business move Very Slowly.


  1. Depressing truth. :/ I definitely nurture the fantasy that writers roll in it and publishers respect them. Le sigh!

  2. Been surprised to really let it sink in over the past year or so that for every disappointment, every regret, every cynical nugget, and every sigh filled with longing for a dream yet to be fulfilled, there are also people out there who *do* make the magic happen. And that the dream stuff really can and does happen. Gives me hope and a reason to push forward.

  3. Having been buds with a regularly published author for a long time, I knew most writers didn't make enough money to live on. She finally managed to quit her day job after about 25 years of steady writing/publishing.

    My biggest surprise was how much work was expected from me after publication of my novel -- I am not good with the idea of marketing/publicity, with pushing/selling my work, with speaking in public. But the requests from the publisher came fast and furiously (they do have a publicist, an extremely nice woman, but clearly overworked). Because I don't have an entrepreneurial bone in my body, I had no idea how to market or publicize my work. And because I'm an introvert, I had very little inclination to put myself out there.

    My fantasy was that I write something good, somebody buys it and publishes it, and I get to sit back and relax, having done the hardest job (writing!). But no such luck. Hard truth: if you are not an extrovert, you won't make as many sales. Take some public speaking classes. I did. It helped.

    Publishing is a business. Be prepared to think of your work as product, and to work at selling it.

    I'm very grateful, mind, and have had some good times, but I'm not entirely sure I want to do it again.

    -Alexandra MacKenzie

  4. The most surprising thing? That some people still believe every writer gets a million dollar advance.

  5. Haha, glad I gave you inspiration today, Mr. Bailey. :)

    I think the most surprising thing I've discovered about the publishing industry is how many politics surround it and that affects what you make, when you're published, how fast you're published, and well, if you're published at ALL. It's pretty insane.

  6. Michelle: That reminds me of a surprise I got that was literally political. I sent an MS to a major US sci-fi house, and an editor there called me to say she loved it, the marketing folks loved it, and she just needed to get the publisher to okay it. I was on Cloud Nine -- until six months passed with no word, and no reply to two follow-up inquiries.

    Finally I heard back: the publisher decided not to risk buying any first novels because the house had lost too much money that year on Newt Gingrich's SF novel.


    I went into creative hibernation for a long, long time after that experience.

    So that's another surprise: good news doesn't always turn out the way you expect. I've certainly had other disappointments where I thought I'd sold something only to have it fall through one way or another.

    (The MS, btw, is the same novel I eventually got published by the very nice Canadian SF house. I love Canada.)

  7. Mizmak: That's exactly the sort of crap I'm talking about. Of course, many things in life are this way. I'm loving Canada right now, too. :)

  8. The biggest surprise for me about writing was this: When I was ready to query the book that eventually became Killing Hamlet, I was sure that it was as good a novel as anything out there, and that I was as good a writer as anyone else out there. It was very humbling and educational to be told that my book "could use some work." I'm a much better writer now than I was then (2 years ago), but now I know that you're never "finished" as a writer; it's possible to get better no matter who you are, and if you write a lot and work at your writing, you will get better. Which is nice. I attempt things in my writing now that I never dreamed of a couple of years ago.

  9. That's nicely put, Scott. I had a similar experience with The Breakaway and with Monarch, and even with Cinders. It's humbling to be a writer when you reach that point. I'm really happy that I can keep getting better even after putting my work out there.

  10. Mizmak--As if we needed another reason to hate the Newt and love Canada. I don't suppose they'll let us all apply for political asylum?

    What a painful story. I'm glad it had a happy ending.

  11. The biggest surprise was learning that I am in no way personally cut out to be a "writer".

    I am someone who writes (whether I want to or not, it's how my brain is built.) But I am not built for the industrial machine- not in the least, not at all and that's not going to change.


  12. I wrote my novels and short stories because I love to write. Perhaps along the way I assumed that because I worked very hard to produce a good product, someone in the publishing industry would appreciate that product. Alas, that has been far more difficult than I had imagined. It is as if there are three "full-time" jobs involved here: writing the novel, finding an agent/publisher, and marketing the end product. All of these jobs must be tackled concurrently with regular life and actual paying jobs. Yeah, I didn't realize how hard it would be to progress from writing the book to actually having it land on a reader's bookshelf, even if virtual.

  13. Scott's stealing blog posts and reusing e-mails. Who does this guy think he is? Anyway, I thought my first book rocked and I'd be paid accordingly. No.

  14. This sounds glaringly obvious, but over the past year I've learned that it's not about getting published ... it's about finding your audience -- those with whom your voice resonates.

    However, it's only because technology has evolved that this is possible, so this discovery couldn't have happened when I was in the early stages of submitting my work.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.