WRITING AS PROFESSION
Writing is something, in my opinion, that you should only pursue if you absolutely love to do it and you feel like you have to do it. Seriously. I mean, I’m talking about for those of you who want your books to get published and to be taken seriously by the writing and reading world out there. If you’re one of those struggling artist types in your twenties who is taking an MFA program or a middleclass mom who writes on the side, that’s fine but just be aware: This is a full time job. This isn’t some side gig you can do here and there and expect to ‘make it.’ You’ve got to work and hard.
I am not saying this to be judgmental or critical or out of fear or resentment. I am saying this because, during my time ‘in the industry,’ I have found it to be fundamentally true. For myself, I have written five (count ‘em five) full-length novels. None of them, thus far, have been published, but I’m working on this latest suspense novel and it is definitely (I can feel it in my bones) going to be The One. My “debut.” I am very excited about putting it out there and trying to hook an agent. I am fully confident that it will happen for me. I have faith.
I have gotten 15 stories published at this point, in various lit journals and magazines. I have a decent blog following. I am on Twitter (@Michael_Editor). I was formerly a literary agent’s assistant so I know the industry from an insider perspective. And I have been a freelance developmental book editor for a while now.
I mention the above paragraph not to pump myself up or to be self aggrandizing or shamelessly promote myself (but I am, let’s be clear and honest here); I mention it because I have a ‘platform’; I have built a solid infrastructure unto which I can create the buzz for my debut novel. This is critically important when an agent is deciding on whether or not to represent me and my book. They look for a career not a one-night-stand, so to speak. They want someone who looks good to a prospective publisher and who will turn out more books, ergo more profit for a publishing house and for the author and, ergo, for the agent themselves who takes a [usually] 10-15% cut out of the advance and royalties.
Anyway, the point here is: If you love to write and you want to do it for a living, if you’re that passionate about it, then do The Work. Don’t slack; an agent can tell immediately who is serious and who is half-assed. Edit your own book, then show it to a critique group, then make changes and take suggestions, then edit it again, then take it to a professional book editor/doctor (like me) and have it looked at and diagnosed. Then work on it some more, making logical changes. Then, when it’s ready, do tons of research on lit agents. Do your query, synopses, etc, and put that puppy out there. Then stand back and let go. If you have a current full time job as well then this process could take a year, easy. Or two. Or three. Etc.
This is not a short, quick, easy process. We’re talking about a career.
Writing is just like anything else; it requires due diligence and hard labor and going back to it again and again and again. Trust me; if you aren’t in it 100% you might as well stick to your day job and just write for fun here and there on the side. I only say that because many people have said it to me on my journey and frankly, I needed to hear it. This is a hurdle (among many) along the way of trying to get published and become a ‘successful’ writer. Of course, we all have our own view of success and there is self publishing now, vanity publishing, small presses, etc. There are many avenues. This is only one. And this is only my own opinion, based on my experience.
If you need a book editor now, send me your first chapter. No Children’s, middle-grade, picture books, poetry, short stories, or Sci-fi/fantasy please. I do not work with nonfiction other than memoir. Please send a query and a first chapter to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I look forward to reading your work! Right now I am slightly booked ahead and would not be able to begin a new project until probably September. I can do a one-time free “test edit” of 5-10 pages to give you an idea of my editing style and approach.
“You said it. Let’s edit.”