|Are you good enough to join the Great Writers?|
Writing is a craft and an art. Publishing is an industry. Like all industries, publishing exists for the purpose of making a profit. It does not exist for the sole purpose of making people's dreams come true. It is not there to pander to the egos of aspiring writers. In reality, editors and agents are the lions at the gates of publishing that a hopeful new writer has to try and get past. It's a dicey business. There are no guarantees of success, no matter how hard you work, or how ever many years you try. Even if you achieve the success of becoming published, staying published and maintaining a career as a writer is even harder. You are only as good as your current publishing output and the industry knows it.
Think about the last time you were in a high street chain book store. Hundreds, possibly thousands of books on the shelves, yet only a handful of those authors will be household names. The rest of the shelf space is taken up by authors you have probably never heard of. Unless you stumble across their genre and pick up their book on spec, chances are you will leave the bookshop unaware of their presence. Yet these are published authors; the dream come true. Their books are shelved in Waterstones, Menzies and Smiths. They are successful writers. But you don't even know they exist. And you leave the store, and their success, behind.
If you achieve your dream, what are the chances that your book will gain any more notice than the vast majority of titles shelved in a book store; what are the chances that your title will be one to break free from the ranks and hit the Big Time? It could happen. But it is more likely that your book will simply join the ranks and remain there. And you should be proud to have it there. Publication is a huge achievement. But it's probably not a sensible, reliable retirement plan. It's too uncertain, too risky. If you crave or need financial security, a writer's life is not for you.
A writer's life is full of uncertainty; royalty cheques fluctuate, payment is sporadic at best, non-existent as worst, advances never seem to be as big when doled out in portions. Still, the rewards are many. You might supplement your writing by maintaining your full time job, or writing for magazines - though top magazines are generally looking for known authors as their contributors as this adds the stamp of authentic credibility. You might have a financially supportive spouse and your writing income is the family fun money. You might get to work from home. You might diversify and write across different genres or branch out into music and song-writing or something, as I have.
Becoming a writer is the dream of many, but sadly only a few make it through the doors to the publishing industry. Just because someone is doing their best does not necessarily mean that it is good enough. Everyone who auditions on X-Factor is undoubtedly doing their best, but for the majority, it's simply not good enough for the industry they are trying to break into. It's the same with publishing. With variables. Not good enough now doesn't mean you won't be good enough in the future. You can always rewrite; reword; edit and polish. If you have written something that a publisher can make a profit on then you will get published. If you haven't, you won't. It isn't down to luck. Published writers are the ones who did their best, consistently, over and over again, perfecting and improving their work. It is hard work. It is time consuming. It is mentally exhausting. It's the job. It's amazing!