Why? Why do you want to be a writer?
It’s the biggest question for anyone who says that’s what they want to do, and it’s bigger than ever right now.
In the past, you could’ve gotten away with saying you wanted to see your name in print, to have the pleasure of putting your book out there for the world to see. Getting it there would be a real labour of love: you’d need to be at the top of your craft to attract the attention of an agent or publisher who could make your dream come true. Doing that would mean writing every spare minute, editing with dedication and cold, unfeeling efficiency – Murder your Darlings! – and rewriting. Being a writer would go beyond a mere job description.
But now? Now you can be a published author, with your words available for the world’s perusal only minutes after your story is complete. It doesn’t need to be original, well-written, correctly spelled, formatted or even have a decent cover. All these things matter, and they are all essential if you want readers to love what you have done and recommend it to their friends, but they are no longer barriers to publication.
So, there’s no barrier to being published, congratulations. Is that what you want? Or do you want to take the story that’s been rattling around your head for weeks, pin it to the page and produce something wonderful, a novel to be proud of, with flawless text and a riveting cover? Something that people will enjoy owning? Well, that’ll take time and work again, I’m afraid.
Oh, but that won’t make you rich.
Sorry, but whatever the guru says, having a good story and a nice package still isn’t enough to take you from “I’ve written a book!” to “Tell Spielberg I’ll call him back later.” If you want to move from published author to bestseller, then the work continues, because most authors don’t make their money from their first book. Or their second. The people who are succeeding in the modern realm of publishing are the ones who have built a following by producing good quality books time and time again, and they continue to write, keeping the standards high and communicating with their readers. As their backlist grows, so does their readership, and the chances of new readers buying the older stories increases too.
Welcome to the new world of publishing. The gatekeepers have gone, which means anyone and everyone can come inside. How will you stand out in that mass of writers? What will lift YOUR work over the heads of everyone else?
I don’t have a clue about what will make me stand out other than what you’ve mentioned: writing quality work and that’s not necessarily a given. I have read that not only does it have to be quality but quantity, too. Maybe that makes a difference, I don’t know.
Do we really have a choice but to do anything but write? So I don’t know that it matters if we get rich or not. There’s a story or character that just will not go away and has to be born. We just have to write.