With eyes wide open

The writer who observes the battlefield before entering the fray will be better equipped to plan strategy and tactics.

Sometimes I am glad that I didn’t “observe the battlefield” before I sat down to write. I would have been overwhelmed with all the different aspects and the need-to-know stuff that I might have given up right then and there. But we all got to start somewhere. That said, no matter where you are on the writer’s journey, it never hurts to take a step back to look at the bigger picture and re-evaluate where you are at and where you want to go.

So what is the big picture? Chapter one throws us right into the grind of the publishing industry. James Scott Bell writes, “So, as one who wants to make a career out of fiction writing, you simply must show the publisher your value, now and in the future.”

Then the question to answer: Is that us? Do we want to make a career out of it?

Yes? Really? Oh, what pitiful wretches we are! Have you ever asked yourself, what was I thinking? Why couldn’t I’ve just gone into something a little more sane like…um…well, I’ll let you fill in the blank. Or maybe that’s only me…

So, why do you write?

I write because I love the adventure of reading and I want to create those adventures for other people. But how to go about doing that? I would love to make a career out of it, but with the changing of the industry it will be interesting to see what that will look like down the road.

So, what say you?


8 thoughts on “With eyes wide open

  1. Kessie says:

    I’m writing the books I want to read. 🙂

    Bell made a good point that the publishing industry wants novelists, as in, folks who can churn out book after book. Being able to write like that is a lifestyle choice, not a short fling of a book that happens once. It definitely gave me food for thought.

  2. J. L. Mbewe says:

    When you put it like that it sounds so…intimidating. 🙂 The what if’s begin piling up and then brain freeze. I’ve got outlines for at least five books, but last night a what if slipped in: what if one of my stories finally get accepted, then only to have my other ideas rejected? Yikes! Those what ifs fuel fear and fear paralyzes us. I guess its that process of writing with your eyes wide open. A balance of seeing the industry for what it is and our desire to be published. I like how you put it. It’s a lifestyle choice. It affects everyone around us and it is something to think about.

  3. Celesta says:

    That certainly does sound intimidating. Right now I’m going mostly the self-publishing route but I’m very interested in traditional publishing as well. But wow sounds hard.

  4. J. L. Mbewe says:

    Celesta, I am interested in seeing your perspective throughout this study. I am aiming to go the traditional route, but I am exploring the different avenues.

  5. Aaron DeMott says:

    I too, am writing the books I want to read. I read that advice once somewhere, and it really stuck with me. I just want to have fun with it, and see what God does with it.

    That said, I do follow the industry. I’m also planning on self-publishing, but that doesn’t mean to just ignore everything one reads about the industry. It might mean doing it differently, but it’s still the same people buying the books, and marketing for self-publishers is the same as for the big corporations. Only we have to do all of that for ourselves.

    Why self-publishing? Well, for me, I like some of the technical aspects of it. I started a tutorial online about how to make ePub formatted books… just for the fun of it. The other appeal in self-publishing for me is that I get more control of the process. We’ll see how it goes after I finish editing and get something up for sale.

    • J. L. Mbewe says:

      One thing great about this book is that the principles it lays down applies to traditional as well as self-publishing. Through this study group, I hope we can help each other become better writers and better informed about the industry. Write on!

  6. C. Garrett says:

    I’d have to say that one of my greatest realizations as a writer is that no, I probably don’t want to do that and only that for a living. At least not at this stage in my life. And it’s not only the traditional publishing industry that gives me pause. In the three years I spent there in East Texas I saw first hand what it takes to market and sell self-published books. It takes dedication and persistence and continual effort and…yawn, time for a nap.

    My take home phrase from Bell is “eyes wide open.” Looking deep into my psyche I know I want to be published–traditionally published–but I also know that I don’t want to be a Grisham or Crichton (especially since he’s dead) or Cornwell. Maybe a Rowling…

    Doesn’t mean I’m going to give up. I’m not wired not to write. But I take the advice to heart that before I begin a project, I ought to think about where I plan to market it, and why they would want to buy it.

    • J. L. Mbewe says:

      Hello C.Garrett! 🙂

      I’m not sure I’ve had any great realizations yet. Hopefully soon. But most of mine have been in tidbits here and there over the years. I would totally want to be the next Rowling, but you knew that. Knowing what I know now about the industry, my future projects, queries, synopses have been quite a bit easier to write as well as how to label it. I write with the market in mind, but I still write what I love. I guess that is what you call writing with your eyes wide open. I look forward to your perspective.

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