WRITING FOR PASSION OR MONEY
Writing For Passion or Money — The body of the email simply said, “Hope all is well. You’re a writer, fiction or non-fiction? How do you get a publishers attention. Like everyone else, I have a book inside me to tell and I’ve tried to pitch the book to women’s magazines with no luck unless I had a publisher in the past, so do you have any suggestions on how to approach this?”
I knew this person over a period of time before receiving this email, and her’s was an incredible story of cancer survival. She was in every sense of the term a true survivor who had over the course of time been necessarily butchered under the surgeon’s knife in ways that would leave most women to fall into a world of dark depression losing sight of their own femininity.
The challenge in addressing her email lay in helping her understand the difference between writing for passion and writing for income.
WRITING FOR PASSION
People who write for passion do so because they have a story to tell. The motivation is not measured by financial gain after the work is finished, but in the telling of the story. It’s for this reason that in the 1990’s and up to 2010 it was heavily suggested that public speakers should publish their own books to help people become more familiar with their subject matter, and to be able to place something tangible into the hands of a potential fan. The book was used by speakers, the same way many others would use a business card. A book supposedly made an author a greater authority in his or her field.
Some years ago in a large established church, it was common to hear during the Sunday morning service the offering of a gift to visitors in the form of a best-selling book written by the senior minister. The paperback book was not light reading, and certainly was not the reading material that most would seek out on a store shelf. It begged a person to ask, “How did this book become a best-seller?”
The term “Best-Seller” is often assigned in the printed book industry to titles that print and sell 100,000 copies or more in the first year of publication.
In the case of the fore mentioned church, they manipulated the senior minister’s book into “Best-Seller” status by ordering the first 100,000 copies for no other reason than to use them as give-a-ways to church visitors.
While the tactic might sound a bit unethical in order to obtain “best- seller” status, the tactic is often repeated by those who choose to self-publish. A classic example is the well-known book called “Chicken Soup for the Soul”. The writer ordered thousands of copies from the publisher, and took on the task of marketing them to brick and mortar stores. The journey wasn’t easy. The author tied up thousands of his own dollars securing the books, and was left with the added cost of marketing them.
Today, “Chicken Soup for the Soul” has turned into a highly successful book franchise, but getting there wasn’t easy.
A writer must always step back and examine the motivations as to whether or not they are writing as a means of artful expression, or writing to simply add prestige to a broader personal portfolio? Are they writing in hopes of creating a few part-time dollars down the road? Or, are they writing to create a full-time professional income?
If you identify with the first question, then you are writing for passion, a passion which may require you to invest personal money into your project if you ever wish to see it in printed form.
If you identify with the third question, then you might be writing for passion, with hopes of earning income from your project at some point in time down the road.
In reality, if you identify with question three, then there is a real chance that you’re not looking at your project realistically. Quite possibly you are writing a book in hopes of making money, failing to understand that in order to arrive at the final product, you’ll have to invest your money before ever hoping to recover a single penny.
Books written from the position of passion alone, never have any guarantee of being purchased by a publisher. A passion based writer can put countless hours into their project only to end up with an unpublished manuscript tucked away in a shoe box in the back corner of a bedroom closet.
Writing from the position of passion requires one element in order for that book to produce income – the book must be written from an angle that will appeal to purchasing readers.
Brooks and Dunn are a very successful country western singing duo with numerous awards to their credit. During a press interview on their final album, Ronnie Dunn shared how they recorded 25 songs for the album. Both Brooks and Dunn had their favourites among those 25. With there being only room for 12 songs on the album, the songs they personally liked the most didn’t make it to the final cut. Why? The songs that Brooks and Dunn were most passionate about, were not the same songs the fans were passionate about. In the end, Brooks and Dunn realized the album was a product meant for the fans, and the content needed to fill the wants of their fan base who would end up paying out their hard earned money for the album. There’s a valuable lesson here for every writer.
When a writer writes for passion, they write for their own self, and not for the purchasing reader. Therefore, it is often highly unreasonable to expect that a book written out of passion will result in any form of income, and most often will result in financial loss. That, right there, is one of the harshest realities of the writing profession.
When publisher after publisher rejects a manuscript written out of passion, they do so thinking of the paying readership, not the feelings of the writer. A publisher looks for quality manuscripts that the customer will want to buy. A publisher doesn’t care if a book is read, they only care about a book making a profit.
Writing for passion truly does require heart and soul on the part of a person, but the project must be bathed in reality.
WRITING FOR MONEY
Writing for money – now this is where the rubber hits the road! This is where writing shifts from being a hobby to becoming a profession.
The only thing that separates a hobby writer from a professional writer is the earning of one dollar. Once you earn money as a writer, you are a professional writer. The trick is figuring out how to earn that all important dollar.
People who write for income often do the same thing a passion writer does, but they are more focused on the desires of their readership. Understanding your readership requires research, and research takes time.
If your interest lays in writing non-fiction then most publishers will look for manuscripts which help readers in areas of building personal wealth; improving personal health; developing relationships; as well as improving their business or business skills.
Those four key general topics are the non-fiction writer’s ticket to income, and a great income if the content is good and the books are published correctly.
Writing professionally in the area of fiction is little bit less specific, but must at all times remain purchaser focused.
When writing fiction, you must have an understanding of who your reader is, and by this I am referring to your complete ability to visualize who your typical reader is. Is your reader a woman? If so, how old is she? What does she do for a living? What is her age? What kind of home would she typically live in? Would she be married? Conservative or liberal in her thinking?
All of the above questions are important to a professional writer. A writer must be able to craft a product that the customer can identify with.
It’s also important to understand … a writer crafts a book that a reader can identify with, but not necessarily agree with.
It is the duty of every writer to challenge a reader by pushing the boundaries of their imagination; provoke them to think for themselves; stir the emotions of the reader; and stimulate a response.
If you can achieve all four of the above then you will have a highly engaged readership. A readership that will remember your name and watch for your future releases. This type of engaged reader forms the core for a writer’s long-term earning potential.
“A publisher doesn’t care if a book is read,
they only care about a book making a profit.”
“The world’s most successful people
are those who never lost their focus,
but pushed onward
in the face of uncertainty.”
“If you’re busting to write,
you will find the time,
and not excuses.”