What are some of the obvious difficulties of being a writer?
I wanted to contrast the obvious to the hidden difficulties so I decided to write them up as two questions.
For the obvious difficulties, these are the ones that you probably suspect even if you don’t have any personal experience on your own. These are the staples of the industry, the things people talk about openly and easily and constantly.
1) Difficulty Getting Published
The industry is hard. You spend all your time upfront on a project and then throw that project into the void and cross your fingers. There’s no guarantee that when you sit down to craft a story that those words will ever sell. No guarantee of a paycheck at the end of the day. You simply invest, invest, invest more and more hours and keep crossing your fingers and hoping.
Some people get to the point where they have a contract in place, a contract that pays them an advance. You would think that the money handed over in an advance resembles a paycheck, but you’d be wrong. Firstly, publishers can and do go after authors if the author never earns out their advance, meaning that if you’ve spent that money, you could very well find yourself in a serious problem. Secondly, unless you command some serious selling power, the advance you get will be minuscule (five thousand is high for a first-time novelist with a reputable larger press/publishing house; small press is much less.)
Those advances only cover that contract and however many books were promised. Each subsequent book(s) must be negotiated and most authors have a horrible time getting their second or third or fourth books published. Many more have trouble continuing on even if they have books in their back pocket and good sales numbers to show.
This is basically a job where you’re interviewing over and over again for the same job, negotiating your salary for every single project, many of which overlap in your schedule, all while writing some new project with no real sense whether you’ll be told that it’s no good and won’t sell, thanks but no thanks.
2) Dealing With Rejection
Everyone deals with rejection since rejection is a part of life. A huge part of life. How we deal with rejection is what defines our ability to survive or thrive in our environments. Continue reading