≡ Menu

Diving into publishing

It’s time to spend time learning the industry

graphic of a book standing on its bottom edge. The cover is newsprint-like patters with big print of words like "youtube" "Media" "Money" "network" "popular" and "friends" in all caps. Superimposed on that background are the words "Book Author" in red and in capital case.

The book publishing industry sends a lot of mixed messages. Authors say one thing, agents another. The “Big 5” publishing houses make confounding moves that no-one seems to interpret well.

From the outside, book publishing looks like an impenetrable mystery. Indeed, my impression is that one cannot expect to solve many of the mysteries in publishing until after one gets a book published. In other words, you can’t get a job without experience, and you can’t get experience without a job. It’s a Catch-22.

But my drawing exercises this week for #Inktober have helped me see that I haven’t *truly* made an effort to learn the industry, even from the outside. I read how-to-write fiction books. I don’t read how-to-publish books. Those just seemed like something to read once I had a book to query agents about. Now I’m thinking that knowing the industry will only help my writing.

This is where the “pure” authors will have a cow. Literature is meant to be Literature (with a capital L) for its own sake. One should write what they want to read, what their muse moves them to write, what their soul tells them to write. That sounds lovely. I want to do that too. BUT I also want to write a book that will sell. I have PLENTY of stories my soul tells me to write. Why not pick one that is more marketable?

The problem is I don’t know the market. No-one does, really, because we have to predict what the market will be in 2-3 years from now, when a finished manuscript will actually get to store shelves. So trying to “write for the market” is as kooky of an idea as writing “Literature.”

Nevertheless, it’s probably wise of me to pick up some publishing tips just like I pick up writing tips. If I want to learn to draw better, I would find some drawing books and classes. I’ve taken classes in writing. Many writing books line my shelves. I could stand to take in a bit about publishing. Writing fiction, like everything else, is a job, and I’m not giving myself any on-the-job training in one specific aspect of that job. A little more knowledge may help me make choices about what I’m spending my time on.

Graphic by Javier-Rodriguez on Pixabay