This week, I’m celebrating the launch of my friend Christina Katz’s third book for writers. She and I met in 2008 at the Writer’s Digest Books Writers’ Conference in Los Angeles and got to know each other at a dinner hosted by her publisher. Another brilliant workshop instructor, Blake Snyder, sat with us that evening, and we discussed the plans for Christina’s and Blake’s future books, which are in bookstores now. Not for a moment did I doubt that they would carry out their plans, because both of them were focused and passionate about their work.
Writers’ lists of daily professional responsibilities have never been as long, complicated, or as challenging as they are today. The job of The Writer’s Workout (Writer’s Digest Books, 2011) is to encourage writers, just like a good coach would, to go above and beyond what they might otherwise accomplish.
The following sample chapter is the first of three taken from the book, subtitled “366 Tips, Tasks & Techniques” because it offers career advice for every day of the year.
Don’t abandon traditional
What we are experiencing right now is a rapid evolution in publishing where only the fittest will survive. And this applies to writers as much as it does to agents and publishers and bookstores and every other business related to publishing. And if you are going to prosper in this economic landscape, you are going to probably want to get your game face on and give up any fantasies you might be harboring about being chosen by Oprah’s Book Club or becoming discovered, because these are not goals that lend themselves to small actionable steps.
This is not the publishing landscape of bygone days. These are modern times. Exciting times. Rapidly shifting times. Precarious times. And, believe it or not, for some writers who work at a focused, consistent rate, prosperous times.
And, sure, if you want to speak squarely about what is going on in publishing right now, advances are down. Bookstores are in jeopardy while online stores are doing well. E-books are on the rise, and there is a very long way up to go. Niches rule, both for nonfiction writers and nonfiction publishers. Publishers, editors, and agents are hard pressed to make time for their authors, while increasing amounts of responsibility fall on the authors who are traditionally published. Community building, sharing information online for free, and distance learning are hot.
Regardless of everything going on, I still believe that the traditional book deal is the best thing that can happen to a writer not only for the potential money, because there is still some money to be earned, but also for the increase in visibility and credibility in a writer’s career. I believe that writers still need agents. And I know many publishers wish that agents would simply go away so they could renegotiate the rights they want to get from their authors’ works to stay viable. I believe that there has never been a better time to be a writer, perhaps since the invention of the printing press.
So, if you work well within a structured context with parameters and deadlines set by others, persevere. Publishing opportunities are narrowing, but they will not likely disappear any time soon.
Christina Katz is the author of three books from Writer’s Digest: The Writer’s Workout, Get Known Before the Book Deal, and Writer Mama. Her writing career tips and parenting advice appear regularly in national, regional, and online publications.
Learn more at ChristinaKatz.com.