21 January 2012

Writers never stop learning

At least they shouldn’t. The industry is moving so fast that it’s difficult to keep abreast of all we need to, but that doesn’t mean we should disappear into our comfort zones and plug our ears. More than any other time in the last century we have to be all things to all people – writer, editor, distributor, promoter – it’s almost as if we’ve returned to a more technologically advanced 19th century when the likes of Dickens and Twain had to take their own works by the scruff of the neck and propel them into the hands of an audience.

Over the last ten days I’ve taken two online seminars. They didn’t deliver information I hadn’t already heard, but they’ve not been a waste of my time. I wasn’t looking for something innovative; I was looking for an angle I could transfer to my own situation.

I’m currently revising a Western for upload as an ebook. One look at the array of covers round this post should make most readers blink. Er… another genre?

According to most received wisdom this is spreading myself dangerously thin. Writers should focus, on one genre, on one aspect of that genre… and I agree – to a point. It’s what I tried to do when I first started. But where did that leave me when editors changed, when lists contracted? Even having an agent didn’t help. I have writer friends who have needed to change their author names twice or three times just to keep a foot in the print industry, and those are the ones I know of. It’s not something writers tend to boast about, often seeing it as a failing on their part. I’ve come to see it as anything but.

The Western will come out under a pseudonym, but only because that way it’ll link to the print versions. The cover, though, will be on this blog, despite it standing chalk to cheese beside my other fiction.

At the top of this blog I state that I’m not a pigeon. Maybe I was never meant to be. Perhaps few of us are. Perhaps it’s merely a mantra we’ve been led to believe is the truth.


  1. Yes, it's a shame the publishers seem to have forgotten what they exist for; to disseminate talent in the form of the written word. Selling and marketing are difficult roles for those who are creative, requiring different skills, attitudes and even personality traits. I wonder when the industry will wake up and discover that the creation of a written work is not entirely about the £s and $s, but about nurturing and developing talent to ensure there's actually something worth reading in the future?
    Good luck with your western, Linda. I know it'll be well written.

  2. Thanks for commenting, Stuart. The Western will certainly be different.