Monday, March 21, 2016

All Part of the Job

The hardest lesson for me to learn as a starting writer was that being a good writer isn't enough. Writing as a career means more than just putting out books, you have to also be a marketer and publicity expert.

Its hard enough being an author to begin with, and it takes years of constant effort, practice, study, and thought to be any good at it.  Just finishing a single book is a tremendous challenge that almost nobody can overcome - even in a world glutted with self-printed books.
Just because you have a book doesn't mean people want to read it
The expectation that you go and sell your own book once you've finished it seems a bit much.  After all, most authors are rather introverted, and some like myself have poor health.  The skills required to sell something are completely different than those requires to create something.  And as skillsets go, sales and writing are about as far apart as you can imagine; charisma and interpersonal vs intellectual and private.

Even if you go through a traditional publisher, you are expected to go out and publicize your own work.  Even well-established authors do book tours, signings, convention appearances, etc.  If you are a first-time author or a nobody, they aren't going to run ads for your book anywhere.  Its up to you to get that book moving beyond just showing up on a shelf.

At first this seemed terribly unfair and unreasonable to me, but after a while I came to realize its just part of the job.  An unpleasant, frustrating part, but a part of being a professional author nevertheless.

If you are a great baseball player, its not enough just to know how to play baseball. You also have to know how to handle the press and deal with fans.  Jonny Cueto and Bryce Harper might not love talking to reporters and signing autographs, but that's part of what they get paid for and what they do. You might not like that part or want to do it, but that's part of the JOB of being a baseball player. Same thing with being an author.  Every job has aspects that are awkward, uncomfortable, easily disliked, or parts you wish you didn't have to do.  That's part of being labor: its not just fun, its work.
Well, at least it beats talking to Keith Olbermann
The job isn't just writing. If you self-publish, then you also have to be a publisher and printer, which adds to the stress, skillset, and challenge. All that seems awfully unfair, but it really isn't. Its just part of the job.  If you want to be a professional author, you have to take an awful lot of the bad - the hard work, the lack of sales, the long hours, the disrespect by people thinking you're not working, the bad reviews, the need to sell, etc - along with the good.