From author Elizabeth Spann Craig:
I used to feel like the sole, income-focused writer in any group I was in. I was the one on any panel hesitantly bringing up ways that writers could make money with their writing.
I’ve noticed now that there are more writers like me out there and I’m more relaxed about being a commercial fiction writer.
I’ve been asked by parents, college students, and high school students about what degree is needed for becoming a writer.
But that’s one of the wonderful things about being a writer. You don’t have to have a degree in anything. I was an English major, but that’s as far as I went with it. When asked for my advice, I ask what type of writing they’re wanting to do and what their end-goal/their child’s end-goal is. If the goal is “a career in writing,” then I’ll go as far as to suggest that they don’t go the MFA (Master in Fine Arts) route. They should instead read as much and as widely as they can and start writing.
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Writers at the start of their careers should ask themselves: am I writing to please myself or am I writing to appeal to a broader market? My kids are older and if I didn’t make a living at this, I’d be getting a day-job. Writing is my full-time job. I’m not making a ton, but I’m making more than if I taught school and more than I’d make at any other job; I’ve been out of the traditional workforce since my first child was born in 1997.
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It’s better, in the current environment, to self-pub instead of trad-pub (most of the time). I experienced first-hand cutbacks that publishers are employing to save costs. When I started out, 3-book deals were the norm at Penguin. That unfortunately changed. The merger between Penguin and Random House meant a layoff for my editor. Now there are many stories about how difficult it is getting to break into the industry and the market. It’s obviously still possible to do so…but at what cost? I made and make a good deal more from my self-published books than my traditionally published books.
Write for the market–modified. I got lucky in this sense because cozy mysteries became popular with the public around the time that I became interested in writing them. I love cozy mysteries and I love the books that I write. What’s selling well in a genre that you enjoy reading? I can’t recommend that you write in a genre you’re not very familiar with or that you wouldn’t enjoy writing. There are standards/norms/tropes in genres that readers expect and are looking for. They provide a blueprint for your book and for a better chance at success. Writers should read as much as possible in their chosen genre and absorb as much as they can to learn about pacing, character development, action, dialogue, and story arc.
Link to the rest at Elizabeth Spann Craig and thanks to Deb for the tip.
Here’s a link to Elizabeth Spann Craig’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.