Writing-It Ain’t Easy

 For me, blogging is thinking out loud. I am taking one of the first of the multitudinous steps that it takes for the ideas in writers heads to get into readers minds. I get to put my ideas out there and see what kind of response I get. So my posts on this blog may or may not be orderly or complete.

 I am usually in  the process of reorganizing, enlarging, and rewriting as well as creating. Minor changes and notes to myself are an ongoing process.  Some blogs are  plots and plans, musings, and pieces that I am sure belong but I don’t know where. Those I may cannibalize and integrate into the book proper.

Putting all this together into  a book form that can be sold is another step. Writing for money is basically changing a hobby into a money-making business and that is work, whether dog-walking or writing great literature. A lot of people are willing to write, not so many are willing to do all the other work required to make it possible to make money at it.

Having a clear picture of the over-all process makes it possible for both writers and readers to make conscious informed choices. And that choice may vary depending on the particular piece of writing. Not every stage of writing is marketable and not every piece is meant for the spotlight. 

The creative act of writing is what drives most writers. Usually they have ‘alpha’ readers, people who offer support and help during the creative process.  This is the writing for one’s own satisfaction stage. Until just recently, this was the stage where authors sent their manuscripts off to a publisher. But it is really just a first step towards communicating ones ideas to other human beings.

Publishers have been the middlemen for some time, taking care of ALL steps after the first step of getting something written down. Professional craftsmanship is making something that is complex and difficult look easy and the finished product costs money because it has hundreds of hours and dollars invested in it. Unfortunately, publishers have also kept readers, writers, and the whole support crew in the dark about how the entire process works. So here goes my breakdown of the self-publishing process:

Self -publishing requires a critical eye. ‘Beta’ readers read the complete work, and their comments and criticism are helpful in editing and polishing. People who have enough interest to read the complete manuscript and offer their opinions at this stage are a great gift to a writer. Some authors hire editors and proof readers to make sure they have a polished product. This step is at least as much work as the creative burst.

When the reader can readily engage with the information and not get tripped up by structural issues and technicalities like spelling and punctuation, then it is time to pursue covers, formatting for e-versions, printing layout for hard copies etc. For me, and I am sure other authors, how my work appears is important to me.

I want my books to be pleasing to the eye, and the writing should flow smoothly. There can be creative satisfaction in this step or there can be tremendous frustration.What any individual wants to do for themselves, and what they want to hire others to do for them can now be up to each person.

Thankfully, transparency is changing the relationships between authors and editors, cover artists, proofreaders, printers, and  e-formatters. But copyright and distribution or HOW your books will get out to the public, and publicity or WHO will pay to read them and/or support the author should be distinct areas of expertise and control. Distribution and copyright ought to bestraight forward business contracts where ownership, obligations, exit strategies, etc are clearly stated.

But publicity in a digital world is challenging partly because part of the ongoing uproar and transformation in the publishing world. Distribution entails author blurbs, categories and tags as well as formatting. Who has control over which part affects marketing.

For the independent author/publisher, the magic element to making money seems to come down to the personal connection.  An engaging finished product and a great distribution system are essential, but people are willing to pay because they appreciate the work AND the person who made it happen. They have to connect with the writing, the characters, and with the writer as a person.

And yes, once all these steps have been completed, the finished product has an enormous investment of time and money.  In self-publishing, the writer pays for that up front, but the money comes back in little by little, book by book.  An outline of  the steps from writing to making money  goes:

  • creative writing
  • research
  • critical writing (editing and proofing)
  • illustrations (if desired)
  • presentation (layout, formatting, printing etc)
  • copyright
  • distribution
  • publicity
  • sales

So what keeps the writer going ? Blog statistics are great motivation for me. They tell me about new contacts and dedicated followers. It is really great when countries like Lithuania, the UK, and Venezuela light up because some one I have never met looks at my writing. It is also great when old friends keep checking in.  And in the long run those statistics will let me know who is interested in my writing and what kind of distribution I may need.  Blogging allows writers and readers to become part of a wireless global cloud community, and that gives me and other writers a degree of freedom and support that is unique to the internet.

If you’d like to make that support tangible and are interested in in supporting any  of my manifold projects, use the contact form below to let me know if you’d like to be on my book buyers list.

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