Do you know what I realised this week? Writing is actually only a tiny part of being a
writer. Of course, I’ve known all along that being a writer (especially a self-published one) involves promotion, engagement, and a whole host of other things, but it’s only this week that I’ve realised quite how little writing that being a writer involves. Perhaps, admittedly, if it weren’t for my day job then the actual writing part of being a writer would increase but as it stands, I get surprisingly little time to write what with all the other stuff the publication involves. In fact, I haven’t written a single word towards either of my WIPs this week. With that in mind, I can’t help but wonder how many people would choose to go into writing as a career if they knew just how much other stuff they had to do?
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy most of the other stuff – social media engagement is always fun, and I’m learning about promotion and advertisement. I don’t mind editing and really quite enjoy cover design too. I’ll be honest, I’m not so keen on the formatting and all the techy stuff that goes along with it but hey, there’s always freelancers willing to help you out for a price (like my good friend Jo). And of course, there isn’t a single job in the world that doesn’t have the odd negative, so it’s only to be expected.
Realistically though, being a writer (especially once published) leaves such little time for writing. Unless you’re not planning on actually selling any books of course. A friend of mine commented just a few days ago that last year he wrote several books but sold very little and this year, he’s written very little but sold a great number of books. Another friend mentioned how much she wants to work on her second book but can’t find the hours in the day to do so, what with all the promotion of her first – and without encouraging sales of her first, her second (when she does manage to write it) will suffer poor sales too. All that shows that although writing a good book is important, to be a successful writer (by which I mean one who can make a comfortable living from royalties), all the other stuff is just as – if not more – important.
It’s a massive learning curve too. As someone who has never been part of ‘the industry’ and has had very little to do with books other than actually reading them, it has been difficult to learn what I know already and I already know that there is still so much to learn! There is so much conflicting information out there, and it’s fragmented all over the web. There are guides that try to bring it all together as one but no guide is ever going to be complete – especially as, like all technological things, what works and what doesn’t changes unbelievably quickly. So there’s another thing to add to the list of things to do – keeping up with the latest trends and techniques.
It’s a bit different for me, of course. I still have my day job (which I’m lucky enough to love) and my income stream – I’m not relying on royalties and freelance work, and although my ultimate goal is to become a full-time writer (and have that little bit of extra writing time), I still have that security blanket wrapped around me. Given half the chance (and perhaps just a touch more financial security), though, I’d throw that blanket out the window and embrace a full-time writer’s lifestyle, with all the other non-writing bumf as well. So going back to my original question – would I choose to go into writing as a career, if I knew how little writing it actually involved? Well, you can bet your ass I would!