04-20-19 – In Praise of a “Bad Pick” by Linda Lovely and Robin Weaver

Monday, August 13, 2018

Writing Dreams/Writing Reality

By: Marcia King-Gamble

Being a published author was never a dream of  mine. In fact, it was something I fell into. But once that happened, writing became a total obsession. At the risk of boring you, I will briefly repeat my story. I was a freelance reader for seven years. I had read thousands of plots, giving the publishing house my thoughts on which was worth a second look, and which might be worth publishing. I simply woke up one day and said, "maybe I can do this." One rejection from a publisher later, I received  “the call.”  Oh glorious day! This is always a memorable moment in any author’s life. It’s the kind of surreal moment when you pinch yourself or scream loudly.  After much sweat, blood and sacrifice, your hard work has paid off.

Like the day John Lennon and John F Kennedy Jr. were brutally gunned down, you always remember where you were when “the call”came. I was working for a cruise line and the phones were ringing non-stop. I was in my office when my private line rang.  A cheery voice greeted me, “This is Monica Harris from Kensington Publishing. We put you through a lot, but I’m calling with good news. We’re offering you a two book contract.”

 I’m not a screamer but I screamed. Thankfully my office door was closed. I’d met this editor at a conference about a year ago. At that time she was acquiring historical romances. I didn’t write historicals, so my conversation with her though pleasant, had little to do with writing.

Twenty years and forty plus books later, I have realized many writing dreams and have learned some hard realities along the way. While many of my dreams were realized, others are still pending. Yes, I’ve written for a variety of publishers and I’ve published on my own. I’ve written series books and bigger books that are called mainstream or trade. I’ve had the good fortune to write at least four of these bigger books for traditional publishers. Books like Jade, This Way Home, Shattered Images and Hook, Line and Single, along with those I self-published. I’ve even sold four of my books to Audible.

One of the harsh realities of this writing business is you better be disciplined, meaning in order to earn a living and produce, you must write every day. For traditionally published authors, it is not unrealistic to be expected to produce three to four books a year. Indie authors need to have something to put out every 60-90 days or you get forgotten. It’s the only way to earn more than gas money in this highly competitive market. You’ll need to have at least 8 to 9 books out there to make any substantial money That unfortunately is a harsh reality.    

Another reality is you better know how to market yourself or have the wherewithal to hire someone who markets you.  It’s not enough for an author to just write these days, you must connect with your reading audience and build them. This often means putting yourself out there and navigating the world of social media. You rarely want to turn down interviews or opportunities to blog. And you better show up for conferences. One of the most powerful marketing tools an author can have is her newsletter. Don’t underestimate the power of a newsletter and its reachability.

Yet another harsh reality is that authors are responsible for their own health insurance, and there is no such thing as a 401K. I know this is  a grim picture I paint, but I have several New York Times Bestseller friends that have gone bankrupt.  This less than glamorous business,while highly rewarding,  needs writers to Mind Their Business (a workshop I teach).

Traditionally published authors need to know such things as their print run. They need to read the fine print on their contract. Indies have to make an even more concerted effort to connect with their reading audience, and must constantly remind them that they are out there. The Indie author lays out money from his/her own pocket just to be visible. She must pay cover artist, editors and even formatters.

So why do we keep at it? Because it’s an addiction. As writers we continue to write to feel fulfilled. It’s not something we can stop doing. It’s in the blood. But a word of caution, since few of us are Danielle Steel or the prolific La Nora, while you continue to write, do keep your day job.

About Marcia King-Gamble
Romance writer, Marcia King-Gamble originally hails from a sunny Caribbean island where the sky and ocean are the same mesmerizing shade of blue. This former travel industry executive and current world traveler has spent most of life in the United States. A National Bestselling author, Marcia has penned over 34 books and 8 novellas. Her free time is spent at the gym, traveling to exotic locales, and caring for her animal family.
Visit Marcia at www.lovemarcia.com or “friend” her on Facebook: http://bit.ly/1MlnrIS


Judith Ashley said...

Words of wisdom, Marcia. And as you've demonstrated, perseverance is key - 20 years and 40 books shows you know how to persevere which is a good thing because of your books...and probably a lot of other things in your life.

Marcia King-Gamble said...

Thank you Judith. I've seen enough ups and downs in this industry to know the flavor of the month may not be the flavor of the month next year. As writers we just have to keep on keeping on, and be grateful to our loyal readers. Few of us do this for the money. It's a labor of love.

Sarah Raplee said...

Great advice for anyone considering becoming an author! Great post, Marcia!

Marcia King-Gamble said...

Thank you Sarah. I thought my post might be too sobering a reality.