It’s amazing that most writers whose books are poorly written blame publishing for their writing ineptitude. To them it’s an unfair system. They decry a structure that allows them to work an entire year on a project for which there’s no apparent market. Surely anything that took that much effort deserves publication, doesn’t it? Surely someone wants it and is willing to pay the going rate for it. After all, everyone who has read it has loved it.
From a writer’s perspective, this makes sense. But those who have been around writing for awhile realize that writing anything is a gamble—that everything that’s written is written on speculation, that we all work for nothing until something is published and that nothing deserves publication unless it fits a ready market and someone can make money by publishing it. That’s writing.
What’s even more disconcerting is that many who query WMLA have no idea what they’ve written, have no platform on which to build a writing career, nor do they know if there’s a market for what they’ve written. These same individuals become angry when informed of these failures. They should realize that we check these things because we don’t enjoy working for nothing either.
Those who someday wish to be published should understand that publishing is a business enterprise. Books are products in an industry whose main consumers are readers. Readers buy the vast majority of books to escape the rigors of everyday life or to make their lives better. So a writer’s job is to write well enough to entertain, educate and build vast and steady reading audience year after year. Good professional writers are entertainers, educators, and self-promoters.
Most first-time novelists buy into the adage, “Write what you know.” However, it’s not what you know that’s important. It should be, “Write what you care about.” You can learn what you don’t know through education or, at a minimum, through an interview or by in-depth Internet research. Not caring is hard to fix. Caring forces you to always make your writing better. So learn to care enough to make others care about what you write. Besides, if you write what you care about, it makes a difficult, unrelentingly ego-busting job seem much less like the work that it is.