Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Business is Personal (Except when it's not)

When most authors set out to write a book, they don't consider all the ramifications of what they're about to do. Sitting in the privacy of your own home and clickety-clacking away on your computer keyboard can be fun, fulfilling, and fancy-free. Writing a whole book, editing that book, getting readers to crit the book, all this is good clean fun.

Until you decide you want to publish it.

Suddenly, you find that your book is no longer just your baby, your darling, a slice of your soul. It's a product. You are not just a writer, you're a salesman, a producer of said product, and a variably-valuable commodity to a (very often) large corporation which is driven by one thing. What is this one thing you ask? Love of art? No. A drive to reach the masses of readers with entertainment that will also teach them something valuable? Uh, no.

Publishing companies, like any other kind of company, are driven by money. While many, many individuals within those companies are a part of the publishing world because they love the art of creation, the entertainment and learning that can come from reading, and even authors themselves, their paychecks are filled with money, too. If there is no money, they don't get paid. If they don't get paid, they still have to eat, and they might find they have to go get a more practical job.

Hence the need for YOUR book to make money, if you want anyone to have the chance to appreciate its value as art. And here's the secret newbie authors like to forget: making money is about more than how cool your story is.

If you're anything like me, you started out writing thinking that you'd write, edit, edit some more, and then BAM! Your book is on the shelves. You might go on a fun tour, where everyone loves you, but other than that, someone else will worry about all the details, until it's time to cast the movie, whereupon, of course, you'd have full veto power.

Yeah, wrong.

Once you send your book out to become someone else's PRODUCT, a whole new world of business opens up. Suddenly you need to worry about pleasing your editor, parsing out foreign rights, ebook rights, movie rights, and all other rights to your baby. There are decisions to be made about marketing (not all by you), tours, self-promotion, and how much your publisher will help with all of the above. Then, once your book sells, you might be shocked to learn that you don't get a check every two weeks. And that the game changes a bit when you start hitting bestseller lists.

But, really, I don't know anything about all that. I'm new. I haven't even started querying yet.

Fortunately, the awesome, stupendous, hilarious, and quite experienced NYT Bestselling Author Gail Carriger is coming to help answer all our most pressing questions about The Business of Writing. I love Gail's books (go read them RIGHT NOW if you haven't yet) and it was the thrill of my Twitter life when she started following me a few months ago. Naturally, I immediately DM'd her to see if she'd be interested in doing a conference call for Authors' Advisory. (Oh, how I love having that excuse to talk to authors!) She agreed and the time is almost here!

It's tomorrow, actually: June 1, 2011 at 9:00 PM EDT. Go to the Authors' Advisory blog for details on how to call in. She's planning to arrive fifteen minutes early for some pre-call general Q&A (for all the supernatural steampunk questions you've been dying to ask), and then she'll tell us everything she wishes she'd known about business when she was starting out. Don't miss it!


  1. What a great interview this will be! And I LOVE steampunk. Thanks for the heads-up, Robin. And, yeah, isn't it amazing how naive we are in the beginning?

  2. Anita--this is such good timing for me! I'm so excited to hear her advice.

  3. Love, love, love Gail Carriger!!!

  4. Had a cowboys and indians/As You Like It/steampunk dream last night. Too bad I can't turn it into a marketable book. Maybe I'll give the idea to Gail and she can take it from there ;)
    Thanks for the post Robin. You're a clever gal.

  5. Melissa--she's awesome, right?

    Shelly--sounds like that Will Smith movie: Wild, Wild West. What a fun dream life you have.

  6. You'd post the recording, won't you? I have VT appointments at that time.

  7. Donna--well, since you're being SO GOOD getting it done on the first day of the month, okay. We'll post it. :) Thanks for tweeting it!

  8. I had no idea how hard trying to get a book published would be! It's amazing any of us even try! LOL
    I may have to listen to your recording... It would be awesome to call in. I'll see what I can do! ;)

  9. Chantele--no kidding. Kinda like getting pregnant. You dream of holding the baby and don't know all the pain, discomfort, and grief that go into that until you're already set on the road. :) Sometimes ignorance IS bliss.

  10. By the way, I was able to tune in to your phone conference for about 45 minutes last night and she had some amazing information and advice! You do such a great job hosting! :)

  11. Chantele--thanks! Glad you could make it!

  12. Thanks so much for hosting the call with Gail last night. That was the best one yet for me. She was very gracious to go a little overtime and you did a great job marshaling the conversation.

    Can't wait for the next one.

    -- david j.

  13. David--thanks for listening! Gail is undeniably awesome. I have way too much fun hosting these. :)
    Next one is next Wednesday--you won't want to miss that one, either!