Saturday, 23 March 2013

Observations on writing and publishing

It's quite odd how different, different parts of the writing and publishing industry can be.

I see it in three ways - I write technical/professional books under my 'academic' name, I ghost write non-fiction books and I also write fiction under this name.

I have contracts, professional editors and a publisher for my textbooks. They try not to but they give me quite a hard time, always chasing and pressurising me to produce - and on time! It feels like a proper job.

With my ghost written books I have deadlines but my clients seem pretty relaxed. They give me a long leash and trust me to produce to their brief but the best of these relationships has a two-way, open back and flow of information. I need a fair bit of discipline in my schedule but, all told, it is quite a pleasant experience - and I often learn a lot from the research I do.

Fiction writing is so different from the other two it could almost be a totally different activity. You have no one sitting over your shoulder making you produce. There are no deadlines, no clear finish - who is to say when a novel is really 'finished'? One could edit forever, draft and redraft. Above all, if you deal with the publishing industry - agents, publishers, whatever - you have to have unbelievable levels of patience. It feels like the slowest velocity industry in the world, frustrating, remote, sometimes unfathomable. An author needs a level of faith that is rarely seen outside religous movements to believe that they can suceed in this mysterious world.

Yet guess which one of these three I want to do more of?

You don't have to be mad to write fiction but...



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