The Writer’s Dirty Secret

It’s dark and dirty but we all know it.  No, I’m not talking about 4 day writing binges with no sleep or showers, living on chips, coffee and skittles.  I’m not talking about how the antagonist of your most recent story is a copy of the crotchety old lady who lives in 2B down the hall.  I’m talking the real dirty secret.

The secret that at some point any serious writer or author becomes a businessperson.  It’s not glamorous, most of us would rather cut their favorite chapter from their book than deal with.  Hell, most of us don’t admit it to ourselves, but there it is.

We market ourselves constantly.  Sharing work everywhere we can. We sell our castoffs, the short stories, to magazines for a chance that some editor somewhere will have read the story and will pick up our book.  We write letters extolling our works and flattering the people we hope will make us famous.

We actually put our book to a committee – editors and beta readers – to tell us what works and what doesn’t.  Most people don’t see the dozens of people who read and tore apart a work when they pick up a book. They just see talent, not the sacrifice of Gene, the beloved custodian who was supposed to give the insightful idea that would turn the story but all your readers hated him and felt it was contrived to have him point the hero to how to get over on the evil Jason Winston and his cohorts.

Most of us want to make money one day.  We want the fame and fortune, and just like in sports, only the superstars and Stephanie Meyers get to make the top of the charts.   The rest of us collect a 6-month influx of cash followed by a trickle of residuals. Still, we sell ourselves on online media, trying to build a following that the one editor will see, and bring them around to your story.

Yep our dirty little secret is we are business people selling a product to an elite group, and only the very fewest of us will reach the top.  Even knowing this I’ll keep writing because hey – if an Erotic Twilight Fanfiction (Fifty Shades of Grey) can become a top grossing movie maybe I’ve got a shot.

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