One of the young ladies in my creative writing class is an avid writer. She has a hunger for expressing herself on pen and paper and she is eager to write her first book. She is an avid reader too. The thing is, as much as she loves to write, she is already asking the question so many young people ask at her age…can she make a “living” out of writing? Eeeeeeek!
Since going on this writing, publishing journey after writing my Wounded Trilogy books, I am still coming to terms with what it means to sell and market books. I’m convinced that there are spectacular writers out there but so very, very few who actually make it “big” in the industry. For all intents and purposes, the industry is a very, very discouraging place for would-be novelists. I read somewhere that traditional publishers only publish 2% of manuscripts that are sent to them. That means they turn 98% of authors away. Certainly a few of those authors are those who have vastly over-estimated their writing ability. (Ever watch American Idol? Some of those people who can’t carry a tune are actually shocked to be told they can’t sing. Well the same holds true for writers. Some people were just never meant to write.)
That said, traditional publishing houses are in the business to make money. They know what kinds of books are popular and what will sell immediately. It’s not only who you know in the business, it’s what you know about the business that will determine whether or not a traditional publishing house will even look at you. An author who thinks they have the next Great Gatsby novel is seventy-five years behind the times. It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to see that anything paranormal right now is hot, hot, hot. An author also needs to research what books are popular in their chosen genre. For example, I write young adult novels. When I go to my local bookstore I know that any book written by Suzanne Collins or Rick Riordan are selling fast, fast, fast. I write Christian young adult novels. Haley DiMarco and Ted Dekker are at the top of the reading lists here. It doesn’t mean that new authors have to write exactly the same kinds of books as Collins, Riordan, DiMarco or Dekker write. I mean, you have to stay true to yourself, but it shouldn’t come as a shock either that a traditional publishing house may reject your “unique” novel when you’re swimming in the same publishing stream as those best-selling authors.
So why write?
I have been writing since I was in elementary school. I had amazing teachers who encouraged me to write. I never thought I would actually have one of my stories published. I didn’t write to become published (although I know that to be the goal for many a writer). No,…I wrote because I just LOVED to write. It’s a form of expressing myself. My biology teacher in high school signed my yearbook “To the only literary biologist I know!” When I handed in an essay, in any subject area except Math, my teachers could expect a treatise that Tolstoy would be proud of.
I would say I am “driven” to write. It’s part of who I am. I am called by God to write and so I write. I told my husband when my book, Shoot the Wounded, was published that if one person read it and liked it, I would be happy. Well, God has greatly blessed that effort!
For me, writing has become an expression of praise and worship to God. He has gifted me with this talent so every time I write, I am praising Him with my gift. So I say, to all my young writer friends out there, go ahead and write! If God has called you to write, go for it! Write for the sheer enjoyment of writing, and write to glorify the One who gave you the talent and the ability to write!
“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, Who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17
Did you catch that last part? “…strengthen you in every good deed and word.“
That should be a great encouragement to all those writers out there.