Blogger: Michelle Ule
Location: Books & Such Main Office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
Once upon a time, I thought a writer was someone who sat in a garret–hopefully with some apples to eat–and crafted a wonderful story in long hand. The scribbler would read it through, make a few corrections, and then type it up on onionskin paper or erasable bond. The would-be-authoress then would ask someone whose opinion she valued to read the work, and then she would figure out how to turn on the computer and keyboard in the entry.
The writer then learned how to use Microsoft Word and revised the manuscript, hoping she wouldn’t need to access track changes. Voila! A book! She was an author! Her parents’ investment in her education was paid off! People would no longer sneer at her for staying home to raise her children! She’d have a job title at cocktail parties! But best of all, a book would be available to prove she had worth–after all, not everyone can be a published writer.
Unfortunately, our published-writer-wanna-be quickly learned not everyone, even she, can be a published writer.
Anyone can be a writer–all you need is a means to tell your story. But being an author and getting that work published for profit–is another fairy tale altogether.
Publishing is a business, and it needs to be treated as a business.
You wouldn’t expect to run a corporation the first day you showed up. You need to learn skills, gain insight, observe, and practice. It takes time; you need to pay your dues. The same is true in the publishing world.
We recommend people attend writer’s conferences and join critique groups. We suggest publishing articles or stories in magazines. Even writing a church newsletter or posting on a blog is excellent training for the writing life. Rejections teach you perseverance and toughen your skin for editing. And if you want to work in publishing–say, as an editor or for a publishing house–take some business classes and computer training.
But if you just want a hobby and you don’t care about a business–write away and enjoy yourself. You very well may be able to live happily ever after.
Some days the magic almost works for me.