Writing a book is hard work. It takes time, money, and energy—not only to write it, but also to promote and sell it. And after all that, there's no guarantee you'll make money. A couple of stories this week deal with an ugly scenario in that process (scam marketers), and a reason to be hopeful (new opportunities for authors).
Also, The New York Times
has given writers a lot to think about, a new contest for writers, and more.
Books are the new business card:
You can still make money writing books. In fact the market for non-fiction, advice-based writers is likely as good as ever. This article from Fast Company
details how many authors are turning their books into new careers on the speaking and consulting circuit, and making way more money than they do with book sales. Ryan Holiday makes the point that, in fact, writing books today is more for the writer than it is for the reader. "Today, authors are in the idea-making business, not the book business. In short, this means that publishing a book is less about sales and much more about creating a brand." By the way, Holiday is the author of a much maligned book on media manipulation. Read the story here
If you've ever sent in a manuscript for consideration from an agent or publisher—and you have time to read a 13,000 word essay this weekend—I recommend Davy Rothbart's "Ninety-Nine Bottles of Pee." Rothbart writes about how he uncovered a literary conference scam-artist, hassled him with unsigned notes (and other items I'll let you find out for yourself), and eventually tracked him down halfway across the country in a face-to-face confrontation. Rothbart's idea of retribution is strange, but his investigative methods are top-notch. There are many points to the story, but the overarching one is that writers work hard to produce a story or book, and they often promote it themselves with promise of nothing. That kind of dedication does not deserve to be scammed. Read the essay here
Writing advice from the Times:
The New York Times
has helped writers over the years, with tips and advice from staff and contributors and through various essays and weekly columns, including Draft
, which I've referenced here often. The paper compiled a great deal of this writing guidance in a post on its Learning Network education blog, arranged into 10 rules. My favorite is No. 6: Write with non-zombie nouns and verbs, which advises writers to leave out the nominalizations such as -ism or -ization. Read the full post here
, and read about zombie nouns here
New Twitter profiles for writers:
Twitter has a new background image option for your page. Not a big deal for writers, right? Wrong. By now you should know any Twitter change is a big deal for writers—and everyone else. GalleyCat
reminds us why and offers some tips for writers in handling the change. Read the blog’s recommendations here
Steal this! This one is not a story.
It's a contest, or at least an idea for a contest. Write to Done
is an informative and helpful blog in which writers from all disciplines—fiction, journalism, speechwriting, blogging—contribute tips and ideas on their craft. They also have a feature called “Scene Stealers” in which the blogger provides a line, and readers create a story around the line that is fewer than 350 words. Whatever kind of writing you do, this is a great exercise to hone your skills. Read about it here
Evan Peterson is a writer based in Chicago, and the editor of OpenMarkets magazine at CME Group. He's on Twitter at @evanmpeterson.