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.)