This week, there’s been a lot of discussion about writers essentially trying to take short cuts. Sort of like the person who is always jumping from one thing to another, hoping to get rich quick.
Except it’s choosing the right genres, getting books out so fast they hire ghost writers to keep up with, making the right contact. I just unfriended a writer on Facebook because all her posts turned into “I write all types of genres in fiction and scripts. Please give me the name of an agent who represents everything!”
We get fooled by the media who says “overnight success” for a new writer and leaves out the part that he or she wrote books for ten years.
Or reading Writer’s Digest and articles like “10 Things That Keep You From Being Published.” The writer then proceeds to list trivial things that fall more in copy editing. Makes it sound like you follow the checklist and the agent or editor will move your story to the top of the pile and buy it.
It doesn’t happen like that so the writer either blames publishing for not recognizing them or try to find a way to stick the foot in the door.
Like two other writers I knew. Neither were particularly interested in improving their craft–you know, that part that makes readers want to buy the book. With one, I co-wrote with him, and there was huge disconnect to the fact that if a reader is going to plunk down $$ and the cost of their time, the book has be pretty good.
No, it was about networking to find the right agent and getting the book in front of him. It was–and I’m not making this up–figuring out the publishers’ secret to what made a best selling book. I remember going to a writer’s conference with him. We chatted with an agent for fifteen minutes. She liked us. She enjoyed talking to us. And she still rejected the book.
And rightly so. I look back on my writing then, which is now fifteen years ago (yikes!), and there was still a LOT more to learn.
The other writer didn’t want to learn at all. Hated his day job. Wanted to write full time to get out of his job. Wanted people to tell him his stories were good. Thought all he needed to do was produce as much as possible and marketing would magically get people to buy the books.
Somewhere in there, the reader got left out. Or maybe seen as the person who goes to the huckster who comes into town and convinces everyone to buy his snake oil.
One of the problems is that there’s a huge learning curve, like that wall in American Ninja Warriors. It’s hard to get up it, especially in the beginning. You send out stories, get form rejections. No idea why the stories are being rejected. Everyone starts thinking it was this typo on page 10 or the editor wouldn’t recognize anything good.
It can take a long time to get over the top of that Ninja Wall (and if you’ve even seen the show, most people never got past it). Learning is always a choice. Checking off boxes is also a choice.
But both with different results.