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Friday, November 29, 2013

Author's Don't Work, They Just Write

I apologize for recycling this from my blog, but this is a busy time of the year. 

Many people think writing a book is easy, and they don't consider it a real job.  They think all we have to do is sit in a chair typing our stories on a computer, go out to lunch with our friends, eating bon bon's and just working when we feel like it. 

Some of this may be true, but there is so much more involved in writing books. It was at Romance Books 4 Us Yahoo Group we discussed what people think author's do. Writers get irritated by the assumption that there isn't any work involved in writing. 

Often times there's research involved before an author can even start to write.  Unless, you're a panster (someone who writes by the seat of their pants) you have to make an outline or synopsis of your story, so you know where you are going.  You have to have character profiles (descriptions of each character, knowledge of their work, car they drive and their home), and usually that's a beginning. This can be a chore just to do that much. 

I'm a panster because I don't want to get locked in, but I, also, do a general outline of some of the scenes I want in the story.  I always do character profiles because I need to know as much about them as I can at the beginning.  There are times I add more characteristics or back story to these characters as I write.  When this happens I often have to go back to the early part of the story to insert hints relating to the add-ins. 

It depends on the link of the story as to how long it takes to write.  Many authors can produce four or more 200 page books a year, but they work all the time.  I know one author who produces 4 books a year for Harlequin, works full-time and goes to all her kids' sports events. She writes while she's at these events, she writes at the beach, Starbucks and anywhere she can.  Another author just signed a 12 book contract with Harlequin.  She won't have a life for a long time because she'll put one out every two months.

Once an author finishes a book, she submits it to a publisher and waits for it to be accepted.  When it is accepted, she waits for the edits to come to her/him.  Everyone hopes the edits won't be extensive, but if they are they'll be life consuming because you are required to get them back by a certain date.  While the editor is editing your book, you have to give the cover artist a description of your hero/heroine, clothes, come up with a possible blurb, etc. 

Then comes the edits for the author, and she/he will go through this process until the editor is satisfied.  I can expect as many as three edits with my publisher, and then the book is published.  Hooray!  This part of the process of writing a book is enjoyable for me.

Then the not so enjoyable part of the work is next.  To be completely honest this is what I detest.  Promotion is a necessity because when you sign your contract with a publisher it's in your contract that you must promote your book.  If you don't, the publisher can cancel your contract.  If your sales are low, they can cancel your contract.  In that case, you will get the copy rights back to your book and you can do whatever you want with it.  Most go to another publisher, self-publish or rewrite the story completely before doing the first two.

Here's how you promote your book: you can hire a publicist if you're rich, do a blog tour (this can cost unless you just use friends blogs), advertise in magazines (costs), Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and numerous other sites.  It's tiring to do all of this, but it has to be done.  All of this requires coming up with new blogs about your books.  It requires a lot of work, and it seems to never end because with the next book it starts all over again. 

It's a whole different ball game if an author self-publishes.  They have to do the cover art, or hire it done, do formatting for the different sites (Amazon, Barnes and Noble and others), and get their book up on these sites.  Everything is different for each one, and it is work.  I will never do this unless I pay to have it done, and I am critical about the way things are done, so I would need to do it myself.

Many authors suffer burn out because of this process.  I've known many good authors who have quit after their first or second book because of burn out.  But, I know an author in her 80's who is still writing.  Smile!  She doesn't do a lot of promotion, but her work is well known.

I prefer to have a life, and I'm trying to find a balance with my writing and my life.


Tina Donahue said...

I have never done anything harder than writing. It's work. It's murder. It's scary stuff when you think 'is this good enough'? Rarely do you answer 'yes, it is.' Writers constantly test and stretch themselves. Only newbies or non-writers think this is easy.

It's not. It's not something a writer wants to do; it's something we have to do. Like breathing and eating. Without it, we don't exist. That's writing. It's not for the faint of heart.

Great post, Sandy.

Sandy said...

Oh, Tina, you put it so well. I keep thinking I can't write anymore because it's so difficult, and then an idea hits me. It is then the process starts again.

Thank you for your comment, Tina.

jean hart stewart said...

Yep, it's damned hard to be a writer. Everything else has to go, or be relegated to a sometime heap. But a writer can't help but write..

Melissa Keir said...

Well said Tina. Writing is like ripping a piece of your soul off and sharing it with the world. Yet we do it because we must.

Paris said...

Tina's right, writing is not for the faint of heart. I wish I had a nickel for every time someone thought it was nice that my little hobby made me some spending money. I used to try and explain but these days I don't bother. I'd rather expend my energy at the keyboard. I love what I do and can't imagine doing anything else! Loved the post:)

Sandy said...

You have it right, Jean. Writing is like breathing for some of us.

Melissa, you're right about Tina saying it so well. Writing is the hardest thing I've done in my life.

Thank you, Paris. These people who think it's so easy to write a book should try it.

Cara Marsi said...

Sandy, everything you said is spot-on. Writing is the hardest thing I've done and the most rewarding and the most frustrating. Despite how hard it is, I couldn't stop writing. Nowadays I prefer to indie publish. I like the control and I don't like being beholden to a publishing company.

Suzanne Rock said...

Yeah, I agree. Writing is HARD. We write because we have to, I think, not because it's a choice. I've tried to stop writing before, but there's always something that keeps pulling me back into the game. There's no job out there that's tougher, IMHO, or one that is so rewarding. Great post!

Fran Lee said...

I know where you are coming from, sweet stuff. I am the laziest, most unsuccessful writer in the history of Romance. And when I do manage to get my muse "wip"ed into shape she still goes on sabbatical too often.

As for the bon bons, I prefer Godiva chocolates. LOL!

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