If there’s no money in writing & publishing, why do we do it?

There's nothing like opening a box of newly printed books. The love of stories and ideas is why we do it. Photo by Blaise van Hecke

There’s nothing like opening a box of newly printed books. The love of stories and ideas is why we do it. Photo by Blaise van Hecke

Small Press Network ran another great Independent Publishers Conference this month. It was great to get together with a roomful of writers, publishers, booksellers and library professionals. This is a unique way to look at the book world from all angles.

As we all know, the selling of books is the hardest part of the game and there was a lot of talk about publicity and marketing of books over the two days that I attended. The biggest take home for me was that everything is in the data. Thanks to digital technology, there are many ways to get data for a book out into the world. So be sure to register your book on Title Page (you must be a member of the Australian Publishers Association or Small Press Network to do this) and ensure that any online platforms have as much data as possible. Think key and tag words.

After two days of talking about how hard it is, you could start to think that being in the book game is really not worth it. Too hard. And yet, there are so many people writing books and starting up indie publishing houses. Why is this? Here are some of the things that were cited on the panel (of which I was a panellist):

  • The industry is generous. Where else can you be friends with your rivals, and share industry knowledge with each other?
  • It’s such a rewarding way to spend your work life.
  • The collaborations are fantastic.
  • We are all working to a common goal. To create great books.
  • Humans connect through story, so we feel compelled to get those stories out there.
  • Life is never dull!

And maybe we need to examine the phrase ‘no money’. What does that mean exactly? No money literally means zero and of course this is an exaggeration. To me it means that we’re not all becoming millionaires but many are making a good living from it. This is where we examine the value of working in something that we love versus working for money. I know what I’d rather be doing.

Blaise, the book chick

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Write for your sanity

Write for your sanity: pic by Blaise van Hecke

Write for your sanity: pic by Blaise van Hecke

To follow on from my series of blogs about reasons to write, this one is a biggy for me. I’ve just come back from a holiday where we went out into the wilderness. It was so great to be off the computer and without power or internet for a lot of the time. I planned to do nothing: no writing, no reading, no work. I did manage this mostly.

But what I find when I get away from the busy-ness of life is that my creative brain goes crazy. This meant that I had to at least jot down ideas and think about things. I figured thinking wasn’t off the table.

Writing is a way of quieting our monkey minds. It might just be jotting down thoughts into a journal or writing a poem. In this way, we can convert our noisy thoughts into something more constructive rather than the internal looping that can happen. It’s strange that by writing it down we are able to process these thoughts and create order out of the chaos. It’s almost like purging our thoughts onto paper (or computer screen).

Here are three ways you can write for your sanity:

  1. Write a letter to someone who you may be having difficulty with. There are two ways to do this. You might like to completely vent with them by writing about all the things that annoy or trouble you about them. The second way is to write a letter of gratitude to this person and see what you discover. You might be surprised. The idea isn’t to send this letter but to purge.
  2. Writing daily in a journal has so many benefits. Again, you can purge about all the things that are troubling you but equally important is to look at what you can be grateful for. Try to think of three things that you are grateful for each time you write in your journal. It really opens your eyes to a different reality.
  3. Write a poem. I’m not a poet and any poems hanging around that I’ve written are not for public consumption but it’s a really fun exercise to play with words and try poetry to express what you’re feeling. Don’t worry about the way you write it, just give it a go.

Be mindful of your mood when writing. I find that I can write myself out of a bad/down mood but you have to be conscious of what you are writing about. It can be quite meditative and fun.

Blaise, the book chick.

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