Saturday, June 30, 2018

If You Aren't Having Fun, Then Publishing May Not Be For You

I want you to think back to the days you first started writing. The odds are, you were like a lot of other authors out there. Your mind raced as you created wonderful creations, fantastic characters and so forth. The odds are, your mind moved faster then your fingers could across that keyboard, or in that spiral notebook you kept hidden from the teacher in math class. You had a joy for writing! That was passion.

But then something happened.

I am reminded of the concept behind the story of Peter Pan. Why does Peter not want to leave Neverland? He doesn't want to grow up. There is something about growing up that might not be what we want. We believe we have to give up "having fun" and looking at everything as "work."

But that doesn't have to be the case. In publishing, like any other job, this should not be the case.

I was just reading an article by Jayson DeMers looking at just this topic. Now, while he was focusing heavily on the general workforce market, I think there are a lot of things that translate perfectly to the world of professional publishing.

DeMers list some of the top reasons for people being unhappy at their jobs.
  • Pay - You are working harder than you are getting paid for
  • Stability - Things are not always predictable
  • Future - OK with where you are at now but not much room for advancement
  • Other People - You don't like the people you have to associate with
  • Demands - High pressure environment
  • Flexibility - Your job life conflict with family life
  • The Industry - You don't like the way things are going.  
I want you to note several things here. You knew, when you wanted to move into professional writing that all of this was going to happen. You chose to enter into a career that is often categorized as being a "starving artist." Let's revisit this list...
  • Pay - It takes a lot to make money in this business. There are a few out there who can really make a living at writing, but these are the anomalies. These are the exceptions. Remember this, how many times have you heard the phrase, "Don't quit your day job." This is not a fall back position, this is where the money is going to come from.
  • Stability - Again, remember that you are in a business that is reliant on a ton of others around you. Bookstores, readers, the economy. These are all things that can never be predicted. Here are a couple of examples: When Barnes and Noble closed those stores, writers saw a huge decline in sales. Ouch! When lines collapse such as Superromance at Harlequin, all of those authors who were under contract had to go somewhere else. Schedules shifted quickly.
  • Future - Your future is really about horizontal moves. You can go from one line to the next. You can write more books. You might get an increase in advances, but in terms of truly advancing, it isn't going o happen.
  • Other people - This is a public business. You will have to work with other people. You may find your editor leaves and you are assigned a new editor that you just don't connect with like you did with the first one. Bummer. Deal with it. You will have reviewers who hate your book. Deal with it.
  • Demands - You have deadlines now. The days of hobby writing and just pulling out that notebook whenever you wanted to are gone. 
  • Flexibility - I always say, this is a second job. If  you have a family, a house, another job, pets... the list is endless, you have to find a way to make it all work. 
  • The Industry - Yes, this business, like a lot of things out there change. There will be times when it is not what you like. Bummer.
DeMers goes on to make some suggestions on things to do if you are feeling this way. I do want to note, before I go into his list, that the things I just mentioned are things you need to consider BEFORE you start sending out those queries. Is this really where you want to go, or are you happy with your writing as a hobby? It is OK to say the hobby route is the better option. Now back with DeMers…
  • Pay attention if you are just having moments of unhappiness with your career and this is not something bigger. We all are going to have some bad days. We are all going to have some good days. 
  • Making positive changes can also help. No this does not mean you go out and start "blowing sunshine around." Small little things such as a change in when you write, a change in your voice. It doesn't have to be big. Just look for some small things to be happy about.
  • Check your happiness level. No job is perfect. Don't compare it to something that is unchangeable or something in a different job. I would also recommend that you don't spend your time comparing what you are doing with other people. They had a different course. They likely had a different set of variables to work with.
And here is the big one...
  • Find a new job. I know this is tough, but please remember writing is for everyone but not everyone is for writing. I have worked with a lot of great writers who realized that their path was not one in publishing. They had the ability, but their mind was simply not in publishing. That's OK. I see them now on social media, or at other public venues and they are happier now because the job they thought they wanted, that of writing, was not sucking their life dry.
So, before you start writing today, check your happiness index. Are you where you need to be?

No comments:

Post a Comment