Some Thoughts on a Writing Career

I’ve spent some time thinking about my not-budding writing career in the last few days.

The fact is I wrote Book the First in large part to see if I could, then began querying agents to see if it was good enough, and then kept writing and doing this blog and re-editing because in a vaguely defined future it’d get me to being a full-time writer.

That hasn’t worked out so far.

So I’m looking at plausible paths to the future I want.

Option 1 is simple: I could quit, focus on getting a marginally better job, and just have the job-family-leisure lifestyle most people seem content with. This isn’t a dig at anyone, by the way: if anything, it’s probably the realistic, grounded choice.

Option 2 is simply keeping at it: in other words, keep juggling job, family, fun and writing, and hoping that an agent eventually falls in love with my book, and then that we find a publisher, and then that the book actually sells well so that I can finally maybe justify freeing more of my time to write.

There are a three interrelated problems with that plan. First, the whole “finding an agent” bit is… not working so well so far. But it’s a more complex issue: this plan relies, effectively, on lots of things I can’t control. I might very well never find an interested agent, regardless of the quality of the works I pitch.

Second, even if I do get the book published, that doesn’t mean I’ll make enough money to justify switching from a full-time to a part-time (or no-time) job.

Finally, even if I do find success… it may not happen in a timely manner. Sure, I’ll eventually reach retirement and have more time to write. At least, I hope so. But the point is to improve my quality of life by doing what I love to live. And that means doing it as early as possible.

And then there’s Option 3: self-publishing.

Three years ago, I hesitated a good, long while before trying to look for an agent. It wasn’t entirely clear which path was the best. Three years later, the arguments for writing e-books only got significantly stronger… meaning I’m rapidly reaching the point when the whole agent search feels like a waste of time.

Really, at this point going the traditionnal route means two things: somebody else will pay for professionally editing my book, and I get to have physical copies of my work on store shelves (in all likelihood, spine out on the second-to-last shelf.) The price I pay for that: significantly lower royalties on what I sell.

So I do have to do some thinking…


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