Sunday, 31 May 2015

Is Writing a Real Job?



It’s quite alarming how I hear so many authors being told, “well, it’s not like it’s a real job, is it?”
Why? Because we enjoy it?

 
Well firstly, many many many writers have lots of other commitments too. Most of us ‘indies’ seem to have day jobs too. So we actually have “two jobs” plus all the stuff in our home lives.

Secondly, have you tried writing? Yeah, the writing stage is a thrill and a delight mainly. But it can cause us serious brain ache at times too. That dreaded writer’s block? Gargh! You try doing your daily job and suddenly not being able to! Especially if there’s a deadline looming.

At least most people who have ‘real jobs’ have a guaranteed income. Being a writer means baring your soul to the world. You put your cherished work ‘out there’ and pray people see it, buy it and like it. My day job is in admin; if I produce a crap report my boss might be slightly displeased with me and make me redo it. Books don’t really have that option once they’re out there. And if people don’t like it then no income.

So, they scoff, “But you’re only self-published. Anyone can do that and churn out any old muck!” Oh yeah? Put your money where your mouth is. Yes, sadly there are a few indies out there bringing shame to the rest of us, putting out work that’s not been edited. But most of the books I’ve read by indies (which is steadily growing in number) are excellent. I’ve seen worse traditionally published. Just because we want our work to be our own, and not mutated to fit into a publisher’s rigid box, please don’t judge us. It makes our book library far more diverse, which is a good thing. Throw away stale formulae!!

And it’s not all happy happy joy joy writing. The first phase is the writing. Then the gut wrenching, brain hurting editing starts. We pour over the work over and over checking and re-writing until we’re happy.

Then we throw it to the wolves; in come the copy editors, the proof readers etc.

They happily spot the errors that our eyes (too used to our own words) have missed. So we re-edit again. They tell us stuff we don’t want to hear, but if we have any sense we listen regardless as our book babies get criticised.

After final edits that we are now agonising over, we seek a cover. We need to dress our book babies to make them look pretty. I use a pro for mine (Robin Ludwig). My covers look fantastic thanks to Robin’s hard work. Yet even this is agonising. What image do I need to portray. In one picture how do I sum up / convey all I want my book to say? I don’t know, I just spent somewhere around 100 A4 pages saying what I want to say. How the hell does one picture show that? Thanks to Robin’s patience we’ve succeeded so far though.

So, with our hair much thinner than it once was (having proverbially pulled so much out by this stage), we go online and select our selling avenues. And we agonise over the categories to put our books in, the price to set. And the blurbs. Oh the blurbs!! We thought the rest was tough, but how do you right a punchy couple of paragraphs to entice your potential readers without giving away too much plot? This is the bit I struggle with the most. I feel protective over spoilers, and then struggle to give enough info. Gaaaarrrrgh!

So, we finally press the publish button after months (or years) of hard work and worry. Yay, it’s ‘out there’! We do a little happy dance. We go back to our sales figure daily to see if anyone’s noticed our book’s birth yet.

We then start the real work; the publicising. For indie authors this is essential and starts to take up valuable writing time, but we must do it. We need people to notice us. So we set up Twitter, Pinterest, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon Author pages etc. etc.etc. We chat, we swap ideas, we plead with people to buy, and we seek precious reviews.

After all this, we may or may not get some meagre sales (with people wanting to either not pay at all, or buy at a really low price).

So, all you judgemental “it’s not like a real job” gits: how many hours do you think have been put into this “little book”? How much do you reckon our hourly rate works out at? Would you work for such a low salary and with such a high risk of little success? No, I didn’t think so!

In conclusion (and as always, inmho); yes, writing is a “real job” and a bloody hard one!

So please, be nice to us. Don’t troll us (we’re sensitive souls!). And just give us a nod once in a while; let us know you’ve seen us in the crowd, leave us a review. Please.

Thank you; you’ve been a wonderful reader. J

 
I saw this today and nicked it, but thought it illustrated this blog post nicely: