Revisit An Age-Old Question
You hear the discussion often in different contexts. Which comes first the idea or the book? Or which comes first, the book or the marketing? Or in the area of publishing, how do you get published—with a book or with a magazine article? Or maybe it’s with a book manuscript—which do you sell first the manuscript or the book proposal? It’s like the question about the chicken or the egg and determining which comes first. There is no right or wrong answer from my perspective. Each of us have a different path in the journey of writing.
Many people are looking for a single answer—and from my experience there is no one path in the writing life. Some people hone their craft in the newspaper field or magazine writing, then finally get their first book published. Others are driven to write a book so they carefully craft their story and get it to the perfect editor—who buys it and with only a tiny bit of experience, they jump into the book market. Admittedly, it doesn’t happen often but it can happen. Recently I read the beginning of novelist Nicholas Sparks’ career. He sent his query letter to 25 different literary agents and only one responded. This agent had been in business six months and had never sold a single novel. Yet if you read the story, you will learn Sparks’ first manuscript sold for a million dollar advance. Unfortunately from my experience, his story is rare in this business—possible but rare.
Here’s another age-old question. People wonder if you work on your blog or your book manuscript. The answer for me is both. My time for blog writing is limited—intentionally. I know some people who have almost quit blogging or stopped because of the time it was consuming to their schedule. They felt like blogging was taking over their life. It’s true with any aspect of the writing life. It can take over your life—if you allow it to do so. I intentionally limit my blog writing to about 30 minutes a day (often less). Then I press on to other assignments and other parts of the publishing business. It takes discipline—another key trait of a published writer—to handle such changes. The opening article in latest issue of Author’s Guild Bulletin includes this story from the New York Times. I found the article interesting because it shows how others are using their blog to test their material and gain feedback for their work.
The key for me is not to permit any of these aspects of the publishing world to consume you and your attention. Instead mix and match the various aspects of publishing and writing into your life. It’s as much art as formula.