Heart vs. Brain: the Business of Writing
by Natalie Bright
At a community book fair, I shared a table with a energetic lady who self-published a lovely book about her life-time passion of quilting. As it goes at these events with other authors, the conversation always tends to be about writing. Her questions shocked me: “What’s an agent?” “How can I sign-up for social media?”
There seems to be a change occurring within publishing that troubles me. I’ve seen a mother re-arrange the event stage and podium for her writer-daughter, authors texting and ignoring readers at their table, hateful comments to event planners, unapproachable attitudes towards the general public, and misinformed authors who demand that book store owners “make my book a bestseller”.
I do know of an author who was dropped by Amazon because of the posted book reviews, and this author is extremely bitter and disheartened as you can well imagine. And yet the comments were about bad grammar, senseless plot, and numerous typos.
The opportunities for writers are HUGE, but people are jumping in with both feet before even learning about the industry. After pouring heart and soul into a novel, which is years in the making, it’s devastating when faced with rejection, but it seems some authors sabotage their own work by their lack of understanding and their attitude. What happened to friendly professionalism? The best advice; put your heart into the writing and use your brain to be successful.
A Questionnaire for Your Brain
Do I have a well-written manuscript that is the best that it can be?
Does it exhibit a general understanding of genre structure and story craft?
Is it grammatically correct?
Do I want only eBook versions, or print copies as well?
Do I have the budget to ensure my work is a professional, finished product?
Am I clear about my target market; who will buy my book?
How can I reach my target market; social media, speaking, emails?
Do I have the time to successfully promote my book?
Am I willing to act in a professional manner to do all I can to ensure success for my book?
If I don’t understand all that I need to know, am I willing to learn or pay someone who can help me be successful?
Agent: Yes or No?
Read about agents, editors, publicists, and publishers, if you don’t know the difference.
My manuscript is complete; should I consider an agent?
Does my book have a universal theme which would appeal to a major publishing house?
Is my theme more specific with a limited target market?
Should I consider small, regional or university presses where I can submit directly without an agent?
Can I Have it All?
You may have a vision of what you want, but it may not be a practical vision. Talk to other authors and learn from their mistakes and successes. Join a professional writer’s group, attend the meetings, and ask questions. Learn all you can about story craft and the publishing industry. I have talked to too many people who’ve paid good money resulting in no book in hand. Be receptive to other people’s ideas and then make a decision that best suits your situation. Today, I think that YES, writers can have it all. You might have one story suitable for an eBook and you might have one story suitable for a regional press.
As in my case, I self-published a nonfiction day-job-related book that has done extremely well based on word of mouth throughout the industry. I had a platform for promotion. However, I’m working with an agent for my children’s historical fiction because I wanted a whole team of publishing professionals behind me. The characters seem larger than life (heart talking), and my brain wants to reach the highest potential of seeing these books in a school library some day.
Go ahead and dream big. Write the book of your heart, make it the best that it can be, and then take your personal feelings out of the equation. As a professional, use your brain to achieve your dreams.
I’m excited for you and can’t wait to read your story, and mostly, I hope your publishing experience is a positive one.
Thanks for following WordsmithSix!