• Casey Roberts

Think You Can "Make It" as a Writer...?

You probably can't, but at the same time, "making it" means different things to different people (so other writers say), but everyone knows what it really means. It means that we want to sell a million plus copies of our book, hit the New York Times bestseller list, get a good contract, and be set for life. There is little to no chance this will happen. It is not impossible, but it is improbable and unlikely.

You might hit a thousand copies, and good for you, but it's never going to be what you want it to be. The problem we have today is the books that sell the most are the books by established names in the public eye. Some writer just coming out of nowhere, selling a million copies, and being set is not what we see happening. You have to be an already established writer, or an entertainer and public figure to sell that many books-it's obviously the name. Big names are what people want, and if you're not a big name, you'll have to stop trying to "make it" and move on to something else.

Everyone is under pressure to make their writing legitimate, in other words, that something is actually produced from the time and activity spent on writing, and it has to be a success. Anything less, and more pressure is applied to throw the writing out into the garbage, you have to hang on if you can, and somehow make it ok.

Maybe your work is terrible. It may not just be the lack of exposure, you're writing might be awful, and it's a good thing not too many people read it. That scenario is always a possibility, even bad writers can publish a book, if they have enough money to do it. It costs about $2k to publish a book these days, and it doesn't matter if it's bad, the publisher is getting paid and they don't care about your sales (unless they start making money from those too). You pay them, get the thing printed and distributed, hope that advertising somehow works, cross your fingers, and over the period of three years you slowly realize that it was a flop.

There is one fine silver lining in the cloud of probable despair, literary agents. If you can be accepted as a client of a literary agency, they will set you up in the perfect spot to succeed. It's the springboard to the better side of life for writers. Having that happen is more likely than popping up on your own out of nowhere. Getting a literary agent is difficult, but with most you are allowed to at least give them a look at some of your work. Most agents ask for a query letter as to why they should take you on, and a brief synopsis of the book, but many others allow you to send them as much as a chapter of material. This is the best way to be successful as a writer, get a literary agent to notice you.