It’s a Lifestyle
Awhile back I met with a writer who has a family and a great career, and has written a novel “on the side.” It’s been sitting in the drawer, but he’s decided he finally wants to figure out how to get that darn thing published.
In the course of our conversation I realized, as I was telling him all the things he needed to do, that I was really telling him that being a successful published author isn’t possible if you continue to look at it as “some little thing I do on the side.” It’s not just a hobby or a sideline.
It’s a lifestyle.
If you’re going to get an agent, get a publisher, and do all the work necessary to help that book sell while writing even more books, you’ll need to adopt an attitude and a frame of mind that says, “I’m a writer.” It permeates your life, even if your life is already full with a career and a family and whatever else you do.
Authors need to educate themselves about publishing (by reading agent blogs, following Twitter, reading books about the industry) because today, it requires that kind of savvy.
It also helps if you network with other writers, because it puts you in touch with others going through the same frustrations, people who understand what every little victory means in a way that a non-writer simply can’t.
There’s so much to learn about writing great books and crafting effective queries and marketing yourself via the Internet.
All of this takes incredible time and effort.
You can’t simply write a novel in your spare time, mail it off to a few editors, then go back to your life and let the publisher take it from there. I’m not sure if those days really existed, but if they did, they’re long gone. Getting published and helping your book to reach decent sales numbers requires a commitment. It may be the equivalent of a part-time job.
If you have a family, a job and other commitments in your life, consider carefully whether this is the direction you want to pursue. Do you want to make it a lifestyle?
If not, that’s okay. Maybe the life of “published author” isn’t for you; or maybe this simply isn’t the right season of your life. It’s your choice, but be sure you’re making your choices based on the facts.
And the fact is, the way to succeed as an author is to make it part of your daily life, part of who you are. It really does take that kind of mindset.
Q4U: Have you made “being a writer” a lifestyle? Do you agree that you need to? I’m especially interested in hearing from writers who have a publishing contract. Give us the view from your perspective.
Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent