Sunday, October 14, 2012

BOOKS of the DEAD PRESS: Are you a new writer? Read this.

I read an article posted on the Books of the Dead Press blog and loved it. I am posting it here in it's entirety because the information contained within is JUST THAT VALUABLE. I have said it may times, but the way it is said here bests anything I have ever done on the subject. Enjoy. 

From Books of the Dead Press blog: 
Yesterday I received an email that said: "I wrote a zombie poem and am kinda thinking of expanding it into a children's book. Would you be interested in helping me or point me in the right direction?" 

Every month or so I receive an email like this. Someone new to the writing game is looking for guidance. I understand fully. In fact, I think asking a few questions early on is a smart thing to do. And I can help. I really can. So, if you're a new writer, hold on to your nutsack. This is me pointing you in the right direction. 

Writing isn't about publishing. Writing is about writing. Repeat this statement over and over. Say it every day. Put it on a t-shirt. Tattoo it on your arm. Writing isn't about publishing. Writing is about writing. If you want to be a writer then sit your ass down and start writing. Do it everyday and don't think about publishing. Think about writing. A publisher doesn't want invest time, energy, or money into someone that wrote a book. Publishers invest in writers. A publisher wants to know that ten years after they've published your title, you're still out there, getting attention, writing new stories, making waves. 

How does a publishing company know you plan on being around for a while? By looking at your history. What have you done so far? How many short stories have you published? Have you created a blog? How many blog posts do you have? Do you attend writers conventions? Do you have self-published books? Do you have unpublished books? Do you have a fanbase? What's your writing history? If you don't have a writing history, you are not a writer. At least, not yet. Right now you are a dreamer, and there's nothing wrong with being a dreamer. But publishing companies don't invest in dreamers. They invest in writers. 

But let's pretend you can find a stupid publisher, one that thinks publishing an author's first attempt at a story is a good idea. Think about this: every single author on the planet, at one time or another, usually before they wrote their first book, thought, "I could write a children's book. That would be easier that writing a 'real' book." And because so many people have entertained this thought, a million children's books have been written, the market is completely flooded, and breaking into the children's market the hardest thing an author can do. 

Here's another thing to think about: YOU SUCK. 

I'm not being insulting, not being funny. I'm being honest. You suck. You suck long and you suck hard. If you're just starting, you're awful, and you need to know it. I mean, REALLY know it. If you've been playing guitar for a couple months, how good are you? Are you ready to play a gig? Are you ready to record an album? Are you ready to ask investors - a.k.a. record companies - to invest in you? No. Of course not. Why? Because: It takes five years to NOT SUCK. And even longer to get beyond 'average'. 

With music, knowing you suck is easy. Because… you can't play your instrument to save your life, and it's obvious. With writing it's not so obvious because writing is a skill that most people have… at least to a certain degree. But it still takes five years to go from 'I learned how to read and write in school' to 'I'm starting to have an ounce of value in the entertainment industry'. 

Oh yeah - there's something else to keep in mind. 

Reading fiction is a form of entertainment. 

Writers are in the entertainment industry. Can you ride a bicycle? Yes. Can you write a story? Yes. Can you ride a bicycle well enough that people should pay to watch you do it, because you're so unbelievably entertaining? No. Can you write a story well enough that people should pay to read it, because you're so unbelievably entertaining? No. So there it is. 

Writing is about writing, not publishing. 
Publishing companies invest in writers, not dreamers. 
And until you've been writing for five years, you suck.

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