So I’ve been reading a lot these days about Amazon and Hachette. It’s been a polarizing debate in writers’ circles for over a month now, and I’ve seen tons of different theses, tons of different items presented as “fact,” so please forgive me if I don’t go over all that. What bothers me is one side or another being presented as a champion of authors.
That just isn’t true of either side. Just like every company in the history of companies as we know them, Amazon and Hachette are both in this to make money. From you. Yes, Amazon is offering a tempting option to every writer out there. Yes, Hachette is offering recognition and the cachet that comes with an old publishing name. Whether authors want to pursue one option or the other, or both, is not my concern here.
Listen to me. The market is beyond saturated with writers. If the market were a dish sponge, it’d be sitting in an Olympic-sized swimming pool. Whatever option you pursue, traditional or e-publishing, your chances of making a living wage, let alone hitting it big, are getting chewed up in the pool filter. Most of us are not in this for the money, or we’d have quit a long time ago, but I don’t think any of us would deny that we would like to support ourselves with our writing. To earn money doing something we love. To be recognized as Good Enough To Make It. Increasingly, though, this is not a merit-based game.
Difficult, isn’t it, to look at all this madness and not let it embitter us? But to make lovely things, we must remain with hearts soft toward a hard world. Don’t let all this stupidity get in the way of art. Let it drive you closer, instead. With a ridiculous glut like we have in this business, why not do something you desperately love? Put your very best into that, first and foremost. Pour yourself into it. If you do everything you can to make it beautiful and professional, it has absolutely as good a chance as anything else these days, and you can’t really ask for more than that.
Protect yourself, oh yes. I’m not telling you not to protect yourself and your art. If you’re going to sell it, be careful. Don’t give yourself away to abuse from anyone, because whatever the world wants to tell you, what you have made is deeply precious. I’m only saying that money doesn’t have to equal success. When you’ve run your race, are you really going to look back and say, “I wish I’d made more money”? Or are you going to turn, gaze over the course, and say, “I have done nothing less than my best, and look at the beauty behind me”?
So if you’re like me, and want the latter: go. Write today.
Don’t give in to despair over something as silly as money. Write. Paint in blood or machine oil. Bring us the hormonal sparkle of attraction, the heat of dragon fire, the sizzling of a damaged battlesuit, the alien chill of the void. Make love, make war, make magic.
Give the world something beautiful.