It turns out that writing your novel is really embryonic. And I don’t mean that in any kind of disparaging way, but it really is something incredibly small on our writerly evolutionary scale. We all know writing – published writing, anyway – is a business. We’re each consciously aware of that because we’ve all read about what will happen on that oh so happy day when we crack it. We want to be prepared, and not look like the dang rookies that perhaps we are. But until you shed the veil of the “undiscovered genius”, you don’t, hell can’t, realize just how much business there is in the business of the writing business.
As writers I think we come to this thing called publication with the idea that we are the content, not the machine. And while we have all read about the publishing business being just that, a business, you never really drink that cool-aid until you’re standing there with the empty glass in one hand and a publishing contract in the other. And at that moment, some part of the “publishing industry” (yes, I know we all ‘know’ it’s an industry), comes crashing down off that pedestal we quietly put it up on. It’s not the prettiest of moments, but it’s an important one: it’s a business, and shame on me for momentarily forgetting that, even (somewhat ironically) in the glow of the contract.
And for those of you still reaching for that brass ring of publishing, when you get there remember what I said: we like to think of ourselves as the content, not the machine – but be advised: you are the content, but you’re also the machine. However, once that fact settles, a quick look back at your hand and the contract that’s sitting there is all you need to set that smile back in place. ‘Cause in the end, getting the chance to see yourself in print really is something of a wonderful privilege.