12/17/13 — A TEAM EFFORT TOUGHER THAN FOOTBALL
After giving a talk recently about self-publishing, I received a series of plaintive emails from one of the participants who wanted to know why her book had been on Amazon.com for a year without one sale. I asked her if she belonged to the Maryland Writers’ Association, MidAtlantic Book Publishers Association or any association that might provide the help she needed. “No,” she said, “they all want money for dues.”
Well, yes, but for a fledgling writer, the money is nominal and well spent.
Many people think of writers as solitary figures hunched over keyboards in isolated cabins. It’s hard to think of the writing process as a team effort, like making a movie, for instance, but in reality that is what it is, even for Hemingway or Faulkner, Grisholm or Clancy.
During the writing phase, the team can include critique groups, other writers, and the professional and trade associations for writers that provide networking opportunities, the benefit of the experience and expertise of other writers, and workshops and conferences. For a writer, this means a better product and more effective ways to promote it because nowadays, marketing and promotion are part of the job.
Associations open up opportunities for writers that they could never access alone. They advocate for writers in exposing and preventing unfair or deceptive practices that might derail a writing career. The mystery writers association, Sisters in Crime, for example, was organized in 1987 when women mystery writers realized that a disproportionate amount of the awards and promotion dollars were going to male writers.
Farflung team members are the experts writers contact to check facts or to acquire accurate information on specialized fields such as forensics, paramedic procedures, or other such detail. Most experts are pleased to help make sure whatever is printed is accurate.
When a book is written and ready to be published, the team expands to include agent, publisher, editor, cover designer, and printer who all work together to produce the book. Each one is important and lends valuable expertise to the process. Then there are the writing networks, reviewers, libraries, and bookstores that might buy the book or help promote and sell it. And we must never forget the readers who will ultimately judge the effort and keep the book on the shelf…or not.
Should we be so lucky as to have a producer want to buy the rights to turn our book into a movie, an entirely new team comes forth.
No writer is an island, entire of itself.