Monday, August 13, 2012

The myth of the rich author

I was watching a repeat of a show called "The Project" this morning and they had a segment about romance books so obviously it focused on "Fifty Shades of Grey" and then switched to the only other romance books anyone reads: mills and boon.

Ah, mills and boon. Does anyone here actually read them? I never see them in the shops. You know what I see? paranormal romance. I hate mills and boon. The books look like they were published in the 1980s and they are boring and corny looking.

What I hate more is the idea that writing mills and boon is a money maker and if I had any sense I would drop everything to write them because if I listen to the Project WELL THEN! I could be making thousands of dollars a year off them and develop a readership of millions.

Oh, and this is my favorite bit...anyone can do it. You heard me! anyone! No skill or devotion or knowledge of the publishing industry required! All you need to do is sit down at your computer for hundreds of hours, write a manuscript of publishable quality, and then somehow get noticed out of a sea of millions of other unpublished writers and get published, and here's the easy part: sell enough copies to be successful.

Sound easy? Of course it is. Anyone can do it. You don't need skill or even writing ability or a fondness for romance books. Writing should never be about the love of writing it should be about making money! money! money!

Okay, I'm being serious now...the advice the project gave was the worst ever. What Mills and Boon actually said was that they accept manuscripts for submission from writers who do not have agents. That does not mean that anyone can send them their scribblings and expect to be accepted.

I know writing might seem like an easy task but trust me it is not. I have barely written anything at all this year because my muse has been on holiday. I have had two stories published and I am not rolling in the dough yet.

The reality is that the odds of getting published are insanely high and then the chances of actually making a buck (and enough bucks to live on) are even higher. Making "thousands a year" might sound like a lot but it is not enough to live on. Do not go into writing thinking that it is easy and that is a quick ticket to making a quick buck. Saying that anyone can go into writing is insulting because it says that there is no skill in what we do.

The last thing publishers need is more manuscripts landing on their desks. They already have enough they do not need manuscripts coming from writers who don't know a thing about publishing and probably didn't even take the time to edit their book because, well, they were told anyone can write a book. Surely it's not their job to edit it too, right? Isn't that the publisher's job?

Another thing that bugs me is the delusion that the only romance books available to make a buck in are mills and boon and that if you wanna make it big that is where to aim. There are hundreds of different romance genres. Hundreds of different romance publishers. Don't listen to the Project. Writing is not easy and publishing is not easy to break into. You could make more money looking for gold in a river bank.

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