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Journeyman

it came out of the wordwork

Being A Writer, chapbooks, other musings
coffee
kinzel
There's a lot of this stuff going around, this commentary on what it means to be a writer. Been there and done that. Some years ago (before blogs were blogs) I wrote something you can still find at http://www.sff.net/people/steve.miller/ ... it probably isn't up-to-date in many ways, and surely not all the links work. The typos are still intact, no doubt.

I'll mention that along the way the "professional writer" stuff has continued to be an issue. In one case, misinformation about our careers was spread through SFWA for internal political reasons -- that misinformation being that we were (entirely) self-published and thus weren't really professionals. In a year when of our books from Meisha Merlin was on the Locus bestseller list for a number of months we were cast as "wannabe writers" because we happen to publish our own chapbooks.

So this is part of the underside of writing for a living, at least in the SF field: the field is crowded and getting more so, and many people are scrabbling for cachet, for validation, for mindshare. Some seek it through political means, some by dissing other writers, some by screaming "me,me,me!" at the of of their metaphorical lungs. Some think that they have some special right to the rainbow's pot of gold, and they'll rain on anyone elses' parade to get it. Understand that, if you do start to make it in the field, someone, somewhere, will do their best to tear you down.

Oddly, this brings us back to chapbooks.

I've been working with chapbooks of various sorts since the 1967/1968 school year, when I edited my high school literary magazine. I've been involved in the production of dozens of the things; some have sold thousands of copies. We have one chapbook -- Two Tales of Korval -- which has paid us better in the long haul than the original combined three book novel deal we had with Del Rey. We've also had stories originally published in SRM Publisher chapbooks picked up for reprint in anthologies and magazines, with one even reaching a "best of" volume.

Chapbooks are hardly a get-rich-quick game (or even get-rich-slow!), and they're hardly "easy," not if you do them right. They can be financially rewarding, and they help writers who have an audience in front of them (say at a convention, a reading, a writing workshop, a library talk or whatever) reach out to the audience, even in the days/weeks/months/years that NYC publishing is looking the other way. Some years, chapbooks have paid the rent around here...

And so -- a point or two, after all this rambling. If you want to be a professional writer in the sense of making a good bit of your income from your writing, it doesn't matter what organizations you belong to, or what awards you've won, or who your friends are. What matters is that you have words, that people can buy them, and that they pay the bills.