It’s bizarre how little writing has to do with being a writer. The popular conception seems to that either one becomes a recluse and toils night and day until they start the whole process all over again on the next book, or they live some sort of fabulous cosmopolitan existence in which they pen mania-fueled exposes in the in-between hours no one knows exist. Perhaps they do a book reading here and there, but their key occupation is either researching or writing.
I’m finding neither of those are true. You write a book, however you do it—for me, two years of not being able to find a job left me a big time vacuum to fill—and then you do a whole bunch of other stuff for a really long time. The “writing” probably accounts for 10% of what goes into a book.
What I’m spending all my time on is design decisions, networking, fundraising and scheming guerrilla marketing plans. And trying to figure out how to make all those things line up on a calendar.
Perhaps in the world of big publishing, there are people who do these things for you and all a writer does is write. I’m not sure if that level of disconnect from the creation and distribution of your final is better or worse, but I do know that it’s becoming less and less of a reality as the publishing world changes.
I recently interviewed Derrick Brown, an author and the owner of Write Bloody Publishing. When I asked him why his press was more successful than other indies and even some of the major houses, he said it was because they treated their authors like bands, requiring them to have a website, to tour, to gig, not to be constantly writing but to be constantly marketing themselves.
Of course I recently read an article on the Huffington Post saying exactly the opposite, that the intrigue builds from reclusion and the book should speak for itself. But that’s a big gamble. And when dealing with your life’s work, something you put as much of yourself into, are you really willing to gamble?But conversely, are you really interested in being a whore?
Truth is, I dunno. And I don’t know that anyone does. Only thing I do know is that though this is hardly a thought unique to myself or the experience of putting out a book, it’s a brave new world. And while I don’t know where things will end up, I consider myself somewhat privileged to be active at its outset, seeing how it happens and evolves from the inside.
That said, I’d really prefer someone else to do the planning parts for me. But hey, we can’t all be all DIY all the time.