Before we dive deep into this topic, I guess the first question is, ‘What is a writer?’
Technically a writer is defined as a person who writes books, articles or stories. Especially, as an occupation or career.
Traditionally, we have this whole assumption that a writer is someone who writes fiction, is published, a journalist or pursues writing as a professional career.
In my opinion, that’s just one opinion.
Becoming and being a writer is so much more than just being published.
The truth is, you’re a writer long before you’re published.
This is something we rarely talk about – I honestly wish there were more blogs about this.
Are fanfic authors writers? Yes.
Are bloggers writers? Yes.
Are Indie Authors writers? Yes.
To me, a person is a writer if they write. Period.
It doesn’t matter if you write on your blog, it doesn’t matter if you’re published, it doesn’t matter if all that you do is write Dramoine fanfic on Wattpad – as long as you’re consistently passionate about the written word, you’re a writer.
A lot of what writing is about is self discipline and sharing your work.
In order to legitimately become a writer, you have to produce a consistent amount of work regularly. You have to devote a considerable chunk of your time to writing.
If you have trouble with either of these two, I say join a writing club. My writing group has been my source of strength and wisdom.
Something that I find really motivating as someone who is constantly harsh on herself, as one who keeps procrastinating or suffers from a very serious case of chronic self doubt is this:
I like to tell people what my ideas are!
I have a couple of close friends (Sharon Paul, I love you so damn much) that I tell all of my story ideas to. The best thing is, they get really excited about my next novel plot for me, and I get excited for them – and we immerse ourselves in this beautiful cycle of bouncing ideas off of each other – and the we get really excited about writing and that instantly motivates me and I sit down and bleed the words out.
When you are a writer, what you want is to be read.
It can be very easy to be scared to talk about writing to someone – it can be very easy to be overwhelmed by the idea of someone reading your first drafts, because criticism is scary.
I know criticism is scary. It’s absolutely terrifying.
But if you call yourself a writer and plan on getting published – you have to be comfortable with people reading your work.
I have written a lot of posts on writing , but this one post is my four years of writing experience condensed into a thousand words.
I really had to write this one, because most people think that writers are this strange, mystical creatures that go through this tangled, twisted and exhaustive journey that you have to go through in order to become a writer.
But it’s actually very easy.
In order to become a writer, all that you have to do is write. To keep writing. And to not be afraid to put your work out there for people to enjoy and curse.
Trust me when I tell you this. There is no better way to grow professionally than to make new friends and tell people about your work.
My last book Three Girls And A Crime sold 1000 copies in one week and got me lots of good reviews on Amazon – but what you might not know is that it took me four years to generate that kind of an audience.
It pains me to see authors today just have a blog and publish their work – and just wait for the sales to roll in. It isn’t that easy. You can’t promote your book ‘as you go’ or ‘go with the flow’ when it comes to this industry – especially with the digital market exploding. You need to be a shrewd marketer.
I think I was a little lucky because I have a very smart Dad. My father taught me the importance of an MBA degree, and trust me – this has changed my publishing game. It has taught me to observe the intricacies and traps.
I see young authors spending huge chunks of money with several Vanity Presses who promise a ton of attractive packages like distribution, reviews and design.
Sadly, most of these can be done DIY style – if you can take a few hours to educate yourself about the process. Knowing the process can help you demand more from your publisher – it gives you a professional negotiation edge.
Also, these so called reviews that they promise you aren’t what you’d expect or have in your mind. They just send them to small bloggers and occasionally second tier magazines with lower following than you’d like.
And they don’t even focus on getting you Amazon Reviews. They don’t even bother creating an Amazon Author page for you.
So what’s the trap with these vanity presses? The author takes the risk and then pays the publisher. This is the exact opposite of how the publishing ecosystem is supposed to work. Vanity presses are the #1 trap for new authors. The only claim they have to being your publisher is based on ownership of the ISBN they slipped into your “publishing” package to “make things easier.”
This is exactly the kind of words that are attractive to writers who want “one-stop shopping.”
Good publishing isn’t about the amount of money you spend. It all comes down to the number of books you sell, the number of readers you acquire.
I used to write short stories online ever since 2013, and I had a steady fan base and audience for my short stories at Your Story Club, and I was confidently able to leverage this to self publish my book. I made sure that I had a very professional approach with the process.
I set up an Amazon Author Page, A Pricing Strategy, Social Media Promotions and I sent a kind reply of rejection to all the vanity publishers who were surrounding me like hawks, and guess what?
The book was an instant boom – I sold a thousand copies in less than a week and I still get sales generated from it – India, UK, US, Japan, Australia and Qatar being the most downloaded countries.
You know what’s the best part? I now have an upper hand. I don’t plan on rushing things, and getting into a paperback deal ASAP. I want my books to be in the right hands. And I am no girl you can kid around with. I know how to ask for numbers, how to see through the records and scan for traps.
Asking my Dad to assist me financially to get my book out would have been an easy choice. But I think I’d rather earn from my writing being read than pay to have my writing be read.
It’s the biggest mistake young writers do these days. They rush into these Vanity Publishers trap, and it just makes me so sad – how much little they know and how much better they could’ve done. I’ve been writing for four years now, and I don’t have one regret with any of my books because these babies have done so much better than I could’ve imagined. And as someone who marketed these strategically, I am also going to strategically wait for the right deal to fall into my hands.
Try googling the name of your publishing house with the words ‘scam’ or ‘hoax’ and read the articles that follow. Be open. Because with these wolves, your book becomes part of the “publisher’s” catalog. Subsidy publishers assign your book an ISBN number that belongs to them; they become the publisher of record which entitles them to receive an additional royalty whenever a book sells.
Charging for editing, design, and production services is perfectly acceptable, but charging an additional publisher’s royalty is unethical unless they’ve taken some risk. In this case, you put in your truck load of money – you’re the risk taker here.
This is really important because most authors don’t read the small print.
Authors are often reassured by language in subsidy publishers’ paperwork that allows them to cancel their contracts at any time, but in most cases, the cover design, typesetting, and ISBN number remain the property of the “publisher.” Even though these assets were paid for by the author, the digital files needed to reproduce the cover and book-block are not made available.
Paying someone to be your publisher is like paying someone to take a vacation for you so you can get more work done.
Don’t be fooled by the fancy glitz. If you plan on getting published – go for a genuine Self Publisher, because with them, you own the ISBN, which makes you the rightful owner of your content. Because Self Publishers differ from Vanity publishers here. They don’t own your ISBN meaning that with Self Publishing you are the publisher -the company just prints your book. With Vanity presses – it’s a completely different sketchy story.
I will post more about the different modes of publishing and what you need to know about them – for now, this article is about becoming a writer.
I am firm believer in the fact that if you write, you are a writer. Period.
It doesn’t matter if you have a publishing deal, it doesn’t matter if you’re not world famous yet, if doesn’t even matter if you don’t earn much through your writing.
You don’t have to fall into the wrong trap just in order to prove that. You owe it to the idea, the story and the plot that sprouted in your head to present it to the right platform.
Remember you don’t become any less of a writer by not getting published!
The only way you’re not a writer, is when you don’t write.
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