Can I, indeed can any of us, afford to be an author? We, each of us, come to writing for our own reasons; or at least think we do, and at varying times in our lives we finally get to it (the writing). There are those who come to it early in life never to waver from the path, but… let not those lucky few feel superior.
I, of course, speak only for myself but I’m sure there will be a host of you who concur; those who, like me, knew from an early age that inherently you were a writer, but somehow life didn’t seem conducive to following the writerly way as you were pulled this way and that: appeasing parents, peers, lovers, partners, family obligations, financial commitments, and so on and on… However for the rest of your life, until picking up the quill so to speak, you were haunted by the narratives that crawl and scutter around the canyons of your mind, where lurks your vast imagination, spilling forth at times in inappropriate form and place until, that is, you give that imagination an avenue of expression; elsewise go mad…er.
Some of you will not be surprised when I say that many writers write only for themselves, their outpourings never seeing the light of day. This is a great pity, if for no other reason than those writers will probably never reach their full potential: honing any craft is a process that is generally helped, not by practice only but, by perfect practice, and nothing encourages perfect practice like the possibility of exposure to scrutiny.
Some may say, and I must admit to having acquiesced at times, that there are far too many so called writers on the scene flooding the market now, because ePublising makes the act of publishing so amenable. The standard of material that does come to light varies considerably, and that’s acceptable; not everyone is a Shakespeare, Dickens, Hemingway, McKinnon, Tolstoy or Twain. The only thing I have to say about that part of the equation is, ‘If you are going to ePublish, make damn sure it is the best product you’ve got.’
Gone are the days, if indeed they ever were for ninety percent of the writerly community, of being picked up by one of the ‘Big Six’, or is it five or four now? What does it really matter, like the Pacific Islanders endangered by rising sea levels, the publishing establishments of yester year are scrambling for positions in a disappearing landscape.
By the time you have penned your masterpiece (we won’t talk about how many hours, months and years that may take), had it vetted, with all the editing and prepublication costs that incurs, and gone through whatever publishing trip you buy into; even ePublishing – assuming you do everything yourself and it goes off without a hitch – is going to cost you in ‘time spent’. Also, regardless of which publishing trail you follow (whether you are an independent or not) the major part of the marketing (more time and money) is your responsibility.
Unless you are a well-established, best-selling author with lucrative film deals pending, one way or another, in varying degrees of time, money and energy, it is going to cost you. So, my initial question, ‘Can I afford to be an author?’ is a pertinent one. The answer for me is simple, I cannot afford not to be an author; on it my sanity depends!