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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

If it's not your thing, just... don't.

I keep hearing about people--friends of friends, relatives of friends, people I meet at book events--who've decided it'd be easy to make a pile of money by writing a book. People who "don't really read". Or perhaps shun a particular genre (usually romance), but seem to think they could write one and rake in the cash.


If you don't read it, you can't write it. Period. Does anybody out there think Chuck Lorre hasn't watched TV "since high school English class"? Or Cheryl Crow doesn't listen to music and know all about everybody in the business? A person who doesn't read, but thinks they can write a book is like a person who has never cooked anything but toast thinking they can put together a 5-course meal for a crowd--and make money at it. Someone who's never cooked won't know what tools to use or how to handle the ingredients. Not knowing the difference between simmer and saute is similar to not knowing the difference between backstory and information dumps. Just because a person gets an idea for a big dinner, doesn't mean he or she can prepare and serve it. Same goes for a book.

I hate to break it to some folks, but, the hard part is not coming up with the idea. The hard part is the weeks, months, years spent editing and improving the story to make it the best it can be.

Just because you can type, doesn't mean you can write.

JK Rowling didn't run into dumb luck. She wrote a damn good book, and if that publisher hadn't snapped it up, eventually someone else would have. Furthermore, writing that book took a lot of time. A hell of a lot more time than reading a book. And she's very talented. Authors of successful books are. They aren't smug, barely literate nobodies who think "if he/she can do it, so can I".

And that goes for romance, too. In order to write a good love story, you have to love a good love story. Period. Don't get any crazy ideas of taking your general fiction novel and popping in a story line about people who fall in love. Supposing you managed to somehow sell that book to a romance publisher (won't happen, but I'm throwing all the possibilities out here), you'd need to then market the book as romance. Ah, the horrors, right? Better be prepared--romance readers expect a lot from their books, and those authors who don't deliver are told about it.

For those who think, "Meh. I'll write my book my way and self-publish it."... Nobody's going to stop you. But please, for the love of all that is entertaining, don't upload an unedited, not-so-hot mess of a book. You wouldn't want to pay good money at a theater and sit down to a movie, only to discover the producers took the first cut of every scene and didn't bother to polish it or make it sellable.

But, really. If reading isn't your thing, if you don't love books, please, just save yourself and everybody else the time--don't try to write one.

Piper Denna
Romance is sexy!


Mary Ann Loesch said...

Piper, I couldn't agree more! I don't know why people think writing is so easy. I guess they really don't understand the dedication it takes to see a manuscript all the way to the end. The constant rewrites, the rejection (ugh!), the mind chatter of self doubt--none of it is easy. I think self publishing can be a good thing, but it also opens the door for every yahoo to slap something half way together. They ruin it for the self published authors who are actually great.

Preach on, sister!

Sutton Fox said...

Amen. Unfortunately it seems for readers, due to a few wildly successful authors in the news lately, everyone with an idea is going to self-publish because writing a book is 'easy'.

It's going to suck sorting through all the lumps of coal just to find the few diamonds. I think I'll stick with authors that have a proven track record with a publisher, unless they come highly recommended.

Stephanie said...

ABSOLUTELY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Everything thinks it's so easy. Ad I agree with Sutton, people think it's simple to just write something and self-publish it.