The Business of Writing

5:46 PM Posted by Lori Calabrese

Since I received word that PM Moon Publishers, LLP, wanted to publish my book, I've been swamped with new work. Editing? Yes. Discussions with illustrators and webdesigners? Yes. But what takes up most of my time?


I've been joining groups, chasing interviews, checking into networking opportunities. I have new Facebook, Jacketflap and various other social networking accounts. I've posted news of my contest win on every writer's board I can find, and I've forwarded so many links to friends and family that I'm worried some of them are going to add my email address to their junk mail list.

It's amazing how many hours and hours of work it takes to do this marketing thing. After all those hours, I've come to a rather surprising revelation.

Writing books is a business.

Shocking, I know. You published writers already know this, but it caught me a little by surprise. I thought my work was done when the final edits were approved. I planned to sit back with a cold drink and watch the counter on my website click toward a million.

After creating my marketing plan, I know that's not the case at all. In fact, all this work I'm doing now...just an smidgeon compared to what's in store once the book is released. At that point, I'll still be doing networking and announcement posting, but I'll also have interviews, book signings, contest submittals, book review submittals, school visits...sheesh! I'm tired already. But it's in my best interest to work hard. After all, it's my book I'm selling. Mine.

My publisher obviously wants me to succeed but if I don't, they have other irons in the fire. If I don't succeed, this book falls by the wayside and I've failed as a debut author. That's business.

Some of you might remember last year's brewhaha of Queryfail/Agentfail. After reading through the discussions, the thing that stuck with me all year was the quote of a writer who said, "Just because we can't write a good query letter, doesn't mean we can't write a good book."


First up, the disclosure: I myself said something very close to this when I started submitting. I understand the sentiment, but after six years of writing, I no longer hold the belief.

Next, the acknowledgement: Query letters are no fun to write. They aren't creative writing; they're a sales tool, which is a very different animal than prose, verse, voice and plot.

Last, my point: Writing books is a business. Query letters are part of the business.

As an architect, I can't pick and choose which parts of Architecture I'll do. I can't say, "I'll draw your floor plans and wall sections, but I'm not doing the elevations because I'm not good at those." I wouldn't be very successful that way. It's the same with writing.

Queries, cover letters, synopses...they are all part of the business. You don't have to enjoy them. You don't have to frame them or hang them on your wall. But if you want to be a writer, you have to do them.

If you want to be a successful writer, you have to do them well. That's business.
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