Master of the game or slave of the industry?

This is something that suddenly occurred to me. Someone asked me if I wouldn’t rather make my living writing instead of being an IT-guy.

The good old days

In the good old days, when there was no self-publishing and there were only a few writers, I would have said ‘yes’. Now I say ‘no’. At the moment there are only a few authors who can live off their writing and that is because the audience loves and knows them. They’ve been in the game for a long time or they had the good luck to write a novel that was picked up and praised by an important person.

The chances of that happening these days are few thin. Thousands of books are being published daily, thanks to indie publishing. Whether or not they are good books isn’t the question here. They are out there and people can buy them.

Slave of the industry

It is possible to make a name in writing. According to a book I read, you have to get a good marketing team and/or scheme, and you need to publish one book per month to keep the momentum going.

Someone having fun

One book per month. That’s a lot of words each month, and each book needs to be checked for errors, it needs a cover and being published. That sounds more like a conveyor belt in a factory than something you do for fun. Of course, there will be people who have fun with that. People find pleasure in the strangest things.

People who do this and who write their fingers to the bones are, in my view, no longer master of the game. They are slaves of the industry, caught in the “write a book, publish a book, oh shit the end of the month is almost here, damn what will I write about next”-trap. Trap? Yes, because they will have to write what their publishes says is the best stuff to write. Stuff that sells.

Master of the game

The way that Will, Robert and I write, and with us plenty of others, makes us the master of our game. We decide what we write. When we write. How fast we write. And even if we write. There is no publisher hanging over our shoulders to see if we write what the big public wants.

The big public

This way we are also not restricted by the laws that govern ‘the norm’. Nudity in the pure form that we write about is not what publishers want. It is however what we want, and it is obvious that it is also what you, our faithful readers, want.

See-Through Emma Nelson 1

Having that freedom is a good thing. It allows for innovative writing, for writing outside the box – and outside the clothes.

I am happy with the job I have. The one that pays the bills and makes it possible for me to buy the tools to write, to give me the space to publish my books. I think that is worth so much more than writing for a living where the writing is turned into something ‘mechanical’.

4 thoughts on “Master of the game or slave of the industry?”

  1. Good points, Paul! Like anything, writing can become an industry with a rigid set of output expectations, if you let it. Thanks for elucidating this topic!

  2. Well said – I wish more aspiring writers could understand this. I’ve read quite a few books by self-publishing authors which showed a lot of promise (good ideas, good characters, good plot, good dialogue, relative freedom from spelling and grammatical errors), where the second book never appeared. Clearly, for many, the huge effort involved in producing thei first book had delivered such meagre returns that the writer felt they must have better things to do with their time.

    I think Will, Paul and Robert simply have to write. They can’t stop themselves. Their solution to the conundrum of publishing seems to be to write in ways which satisfy themselves first and foremost, then to publish in the least-stressful way. By having any (net!) income from this as a bonus, rather than an objective, they can gain maximum enjoyment (?) from the endeavour.

    A modest suggestion to writers out there. Try to provide a channel for readers to communicate directly. If I have comments and queries about a book I like to be able to make them privately, without exposing either my words or the author’s response to a gigantic Internet audience, particularly if I have noticed a slip (eg a character whose age or name in one chapter is substantially different from that in another). While the potential readership is important (so use Twitter, blogs, Instagram, Facebook, etc to whatever degree you feel comfortable with), the actual readership should also be considered. IMO!

    1. Thank you for your elaborate comment, Tim.
      I truly appreciate it, and many others probably do as well. It is true for me: I **have** to write. If I don’t write, my mind blows up from the story-pressure inside. And indeed, a way to get in touch with an author is important. That is why I have my twitter (Direct Messages work well) and then there’s the contact form which will get someone an e-mail-reply. Communication is important, and in this day and age of the Interwebz it should be easier than ever.

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