If you’re aiming for a career as a performer, the first thing required of you is the willingness to spend hours training, as often as possible with people who are talented and experienced in the field. During my degree we had daily practical dance classes to hone our technique, as well as fitness sessions to ensure we could endure the level fitness required.
When I made the decision to write a novel in 2006, I approached the idea of being a writer in the same way. I researched for months as much as I could about both the craft of writing and business of publishing. I took courses, connected with people, read books and articles offering guidance. It became clear that if you wanted to sell your work you had to get your book picked up by a one of the publishing houses. And no one said this was easy to do.
I started writing my book with the idea that when the time came I would go through the querying process like everyone else. I joined online writers groups online, bought the Writers and Artists’ Yearbook and cultivated online friendships with a range of writers with different experience of the publishing industry. Much of the advice from published authors was the same; expect a lot of rejections. This didn’t deter me. This was, in fact, very similar to the Performing Arts Industry and I expected to go through the procedure like everyone else.
However, my book took ages to write. Years, in fact. Why? Firstly I didn’t have solid plot that came to me all at once, secondly I needed time to develop my craft and voice and thirdly my main career goal at the time was to become a Teacher of Dance at a college. So I approached the writing of the book in a somewhat leisurely fashion.
Writing as a viable Career Option
Fast forward 8 years later. I decided to take my writing more seriously and consider it as a viable career option. In that time the attitudes towards creative subjects in education had changed for the worst due to the actions of the Government, I sustained a knee injury which effected my ability to do my job fully and the publishing industry also changed somewhat, seemingly for the better.
I took stock of my novel and realised I’d already written over 80k words. Based on early positive feedback on the first three chapters, I knew I might have a story readers might find interesting, so I started investigating self publishing.
The first three books I read convinced me straight away. I bought them as a box-set, which is no longer available, but they are well worth purchasing separately.
Based on these books and further research, I chose to pursue a writing career as an Independent Author because:
- Freedom and Control
Without having to deal with querying, my book could get out to readers at my convenience. I also had control over the cover, title and pricing, and could make changes as and when needed.
70% as an independent author vs 15% with traditional publishing. Hmmm…. not a hard decision to make there!
- Business Opportunity
I loved the idea of running a business. I had run small businesses before (dance courses, inventory services) and was excited about something creative that could potentially become a new career.
In ‘Lets Get Digital’, Gaughran provides testimonials of authors using this model who were earning a living. If others were doing it already, it didn’t seem like much of a big leap of faith.
- Multiple Books
Platt and Truant of ‘Write. Publish, Repeat.’ recommend writing lots of books and increasing your catalogue. Although only on my first one at the time, this was an exciting prospect. In my ‘idea creation’ stage I came up with a lot of story nuggets that could be turned into future novels.
- Multiple Income Streams
In ‘How to Market a Book’, Penn explains that one book can provide multiple streams of income. This is very attractive from a business point of view.
The money earned from a good product can bring in continued income over a sustained period of time. E-books never go ‘out of print’. They can be published for however long you wish.
There is evidence that readers don’t tend to care if a writer is self published as long as the book is of a good quality. This means it is comparable to the professional standard of traditionally published book. Its also great that you can connect directly with readers (although this was something that was becoming frequent with traditionally published authors). It would be interesting to know if readers prefer the interaction they are getting with self-published authors and if they think it has made the genre they enjoy more exciting or harder to find good books.
Traditionally. business models created around the arts tend to exploit the artist/creative. Here, I’m think of the music industry, parts of the performing arts industry and the publishing industry. So this model of empowering the artist to gain control of their career was highly appealing to me. I look forward to getting a handle on it.
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