Why do you write?
I’m directing this at authors who want to sell a book, or have a writing career – not those who are writing for friends, family and free internet exposure. More power to you, if you fall into the latter category. It’s possible that you’ve lined yourself up for a lot more approval and satisfaction than the rest of us.
Almost every day I bump up against authors who want to sell a book, and who feel that of course if they do that, they can make enough money to quit their day job, or at least be glad they did. Crowd approval! Thousands of dollars! Easy work, easy money! Chicks for free! Okay, that may be going too far. But this illusion of writing as an easy road to success is just that – an illusion.
At every writing-related convention or helpful advice website I’ve seen, and somewhere in the body of social media posts of every successful author is embedded the same nugget of advice: if you’re here to make quick money, turn back now. You will make more money, faster, working in the fast food industry.
Every time, some authors come away thinking, well, it’ll be different for ME.
Unfortunately, the Venn diagram of those authors who won’t listen to advice from those who have walked down the same road has a large overlap with the authors who get bitten by scams. It’s worth your time, and worth all the money you’d have lost, to educate yourself about both your illusions and the scam artists who prey on them.
Would you expect the first movie a major director made on his phone camera when he was sixteen to be a blockbuster box office smash? Would you expect it to even make back the cost of the phone, paying his sister to act, his mom’s gas money to drive to ‘on location’, and the movies he went to see to get the inspiration?
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t write.
It means you should lose your illusions, and it means you should accept that this writing thing, while it can by all means be a successful career, is going to take as much hard work, education, business thinking and time as going from retail worker to successful store owner.
Below are some links that will get you started, if this sounds like you. Some are about writing as a career, some are about motivation, and some are about scam avoidance. All are worth reading even if you feel pretty educated about this stuff already! Most have links to many more trustworthy resources.
Dean Wesley Smith’s ‘Think Like a Publisher’ – check the rest of his site too.
Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Publishing Articles – gets more recent near the bottom.
SFWA’s Writer Beware – only one of thousands of writer resources at this excellent site.
Writer’s Digest Article – avoiding scams.
Chuck Wendig’s Site – rough but motivational; only one of many good articles.