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Writing a Book vs. a Writing Career

I just read this fantastic article by Kristine Kathryn Rusch on A Career vs. Publication. If you’re an author, a wanna be author, a just-for-fun writer, or have ever thought about writing, go read it.

You might have noticed that the publishing world is changing pretty quickly these days. Among other upheavals, indie publishing has become not just an option, but a good option. As writing blogs, conventions, and advice proliferate, both online and in the real world, there is a lot of advice out there. Have you ever tried to parse through that advice to find what will work for you? I have. It’s not easy, and Ms. Rusch pinpoints the problem. Advice tends to be written by, and geared toward, one-book authors (as Rusch defines them… they may write more than one book, but they are thinking of publication of one or a small number of books, rather than a long-term writing career). But career authors also face challenging decisions.

As an indie author, I haven’t been faced with some of the problematic/scammy/predatory contracts that some other authors have. In fact, I currently aspire to be considered a midlist author! But I’m doing my research. I actually fall somewhere in between the one book author and the career author paradigms Ms. Rusch outlines. I plan on continuing to write. I’d rather be indie and have (possibly) lower sales, but maintain my independence and artistic control. I won’t sign a predatory contract just for the honor of being given the official pat on the back.

But I also have other professional interests, and I’m ok with the fact that those are the ones that contributing more to the household income than my writing, at least for now. I don’t necessarily WANT to have to keep publishing in order to pay my bills… I want to do a professional job on each book, but I don’t always have the urge to write five books a year. I’m happy with my other jobs (one I went to grad school for, and the others are profitable hobbies/recreational activities) and I wouldn’t necessarily give them up for more time to write.

Yet, like a career author, I look at my writing career as part of my life long-term. I want to keep reaching readers. I don’t want to spend all my time on publicizing one book… I’d rather write the next one, and the next one, and the next one. I want to experiment with short story writing. I want to write a nonfiction book (I already have one outlined!). I want to invest in my career for long-term growth rather than be a one hit wonder.

What about you? Do you want to be published, or do you want a writing career?

What does your ideal writing career look like?