I have been noticing lately that the word, “work ethic” has been coming up a lot among writers, all of whom seem to be pursuing the vast pots of wealth seemingly just on the other side of a completed manuscript. No longer do you even need a contract to hit the big time—just look! Every week another superstar explodes out of obscurity onto the top of the e-book charts, then the New York Times. Every month, another Horatio Alger, another starlet, another Big E-Publishing story.
There are also those writers (and I am one of them) who have made a lot of fast cash on books that were out of print for ages. The potential is gigantic for new work, building on that old work. Many of us still are writing for New York (again, I am one of them) and also trying to feed the “yawning maw of the Internet beast,” as one friend of mine put it.
A lot of opportunity. A lot of possibility.
A lot of pressure, and a lot of potential for burn out.
One of the things you learn by simply staying in the publishing game for a long time is that today’s sudden superstar may or may not be writing and/or publishing three years from now. In a decade, who will we remember? Who will we still be reading? I’m startled by the big money publishers are paying out to untested writers—how can they possibly know if that writer can follow up with a second, third, fourth book? I hardly blame an author for taking a great deal, but again—it’s a lot of pressure.
I’m also astonished by the schedule some of us are setting up for ourselves—doubling the word counts every day, adding to the number of books published each year. I get it—I am doing the same thing—but in the back of my brain, I keep hearing the foghorn warning of — [Read more…]