It’s a JOB

Ok, guys, this is something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately, so I’m just going to come out and say it.

Writing is a job.

Let me clarify that. Writing at the level where you are querying agents/publishers and participating in contests like Pitch Wars is a job. You’re trying to make a career out of this.

I know plenty of people who write as a hobby. That’s amazing! Writing is so cathartic, and it’s an amazing stress-reliever. Honestly, if you want to write as a hobby, more power to you. Rock it out.

But if you want to participate at the level where you’re writing professional query letters and hoping to be picked up by a publisher, you need to keep in mind that this is a JOB. 

One of my CP’s — as well as many of my friends — was recently approached by a few hobby writers who thought that writing a book was a good way to make a quick buck on the side. Besides asking a bunch of rude, personal questions about her book deal, they asked almost exclusively about money. (So did you get a signing bonus? How much? Where do you make most of your money, and when do you get to quit your job? Oh, and also all books get made into movies eventually, right? That’s when your real payday comes, right?)

*Cue chorus of groans and facepalms*

Think about this for a second.

“Hey, I see that you’ve animated a short film. I sometimes draw on the weekends, so if I animated some stick figures, could I make some money at that?”

“I took an anatomy class in college years ago. Do you think I could help you with a surgery sometime? That makes good money, right?”

“Hey, I did cheerleading in high school, so you can hire me as a model now, right?”

Writing certainly doesn’t have to be a writer’s only job. A lot of us have day jobs. A lot of us need day jobs so we can do our writing job, and that is so very ok and normal. Writing a book is not an instant ticket to fame and fortune, and those of us who love it don’t care.

But guys, if you want to be an author, you need to treat it as a job. Learn your craft. READ. Write a TON, then tear it apart. Have other people tear it apart. You don’t have to have a degree or certificate to be a writer, but you have to be able to produce good, technically-sound work.

You wouldn’t show up to a job interview with a crappy resume and no relevant skills, would you?

You wouldn’t ask your boss at work to only compliment you and not tell you things that you’re doing wrong, would you?

You wouldn’t expect to be hired just based on the fact that you try hard even when you don’t get results, right?

Agents say this all the time, and it bears repeating: “Rejection isn’t personal. Publishing is a business.”

Guys, be good business-people. Treat this as a job.

(That said, don’t just quit your day job willy-nilly. Be smart, mes amis. Be smart.)

7 thoughts on “It’s a JOB

  1. It’s so a job. Writing a first draft for me is work. Then there’s the number of hours you put into editing, learning all you can about the business, researching by reading in your genre, making contacts on social media. But it’s the best ‘job’ I have ever had.

  2. Great article. When i started writing 4 years ago i thought i’d shell out a book in 2 weeks. I didn’t know anything. 4 years later, tons of drafts later and tons of research later and i’m almost ready to query my first book. It’s only when i started thinking of writing as a job that i really began making strides.

  3. I can’t believe people actually asked your friend that. How rude. They had no shame, clearly. I’ve been writing for six years. I’ve spent three years (on and off) on my WIP. I’ve learned so much from the first two mss and short stories I wrote. I critiqued a lot. I joined groups and did lots of research on my own. I’ve never stopped reading and learning from doing so. It’s crazy how some people can think to just get something out in a month and make money pour.

  4. I’ve been pondering this post. Writing is a job (a tough one) but it’s also a passion that’s intimately connected with who we are.

    A new member attended my writers’ group last week. She’d self-published on Amazon. She had so much fun writing her novel and getting it published was SO easy. It only took her ten minutes to design the cover. She didn’t pay for an editor or edit it herself. Someone pointed out that her character’s age changes twice in the space of a few pages. She shrugged it off. “But it’s fun to write.”

    I felt that her attitude belittled those of us who take our writing seriously. I had a difficult time keeping quiet. I was finally able to talk myself down 😉 As you said, it’s her hobby. For me, it’s so much more.

    1. Ugh. Calming self down, too. 😛 Indeed, just because someone makes money off of what they do doesn’t mean they treat it as a serious, legit job.

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