I’ve got a friend who’s a nationally-known, successful novelist. Let’s call her WF for WriterFriend. WF doesn’t use twitter or Facebook, although her agent suggested WF should start. WF has a Web site, but she doesn’t handle the content. When WF writes, she working on her books. She’s working on her fourth or fifth novel. WF is a very sweet woman. I value our friendship which isn’t based on writing. There’s no competition between us. So when she told me her agent had taken her to dinner the other night I lost it, at least the space behind my eyeballs was seeing red. I also felt a bit blue. Like the saying: the rich get richer and the poor get poorer WF has the luxury to work on her novels because she has an agent and a publisher. She’s got help to promote her book. She, therefore, can focus her attention on writing. I, on the other hand, spend most of my time focused on SM. There’s no time or energy at the end of the day for me to focus on the novel I started several months ago.
Question: Should I feel jealous? Does my WF have a better deal because she has the luxury to focus on a singular purpose – her next novel. This gives WF the satisfaction to see her work progressing. WF knows at the end of the process she’s got an agent to shop the work and an editor to promote in. And me? I can’t focus on one project. I need to manage and grow my presence on the Web. I admit I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learn how to set up the different SM sites, and everyday I manage content. I also SUFFER all the frustrations that come with these things. In addition to these practical aspect I am expanding my horizons by the people I am connecting with on the ‘Net.
In terms of dollars WF is in a more secure position. I’m still throwing money at things like Web site promotion, sending complimentary books for PR purposes, etc. I haven’t seen a positive income stream yet, and have no idea what, if any, the potential is.
Is WF more successful? WF has direct evidence that with the help of her agent and editor she can sell books and receives royalty payments. I’m still at the starting line in terms of sales of my first book. I still wondering if SM was the right choice. Maybe I was too impatient and should have looked harder for a publisher? One thing I CAN claim that WF cannot is that I am part of the ‘Net community. I’ve got my own tribe, and others who are supporting me everyday. Am I in a better position? You might say I am. After all, the traditional publishing world is reported to be struggling to keep their market share. Instead of committing myself to the establishment, I chose to take a chance on the new frontier. While WF writes and relies on her agent and publisher to work the angles, I’m working with SM to make connections and establish associations and friendships that, I hope, will serve me well in the future. Of course, WF has hard data that demonstrates what works. At the moment I only have testimonials for the promise of the future.
While WF is working inside her protective bubble, I’m working with a ‘Net. She is a writer and I am a tweeter, FB friend, blogger, Web site administrator (here’s hoping I can get my new indie-hosted site up and running soon). I’m a writer who hopes to soon have more time to devote to a new manuscript.
So who’s better off? It depends on what you want. How you define success? What your definition of writer is. I do a lot of writing on my blogs. I’m writing tweets and FB posts every day. Is that writing? How important are the connections I’m making both now and in the future? It also depends on whether SM is a here to stay phenomenon or just a technology bubble.
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