Chapter Twenty Eight - Other Business24 August 2010
I only found out about Amazon’s Kindle reader, a machine which lets you read ebooks that you buy through Amazon, several months after it had first launched!! I often lag behind on things like this. It might seem astonishing that a writer doesn’t always know what’s happening with their books, but if your books are successful, on sale in a few dozen countries around the world, and you release 2 or 3 a year… well, keeping up to date with all the publishing ins and outs is actually a lot harder than it seems!!!
I was pretty savvy on most things for the first couple of years of my career, at least in the English speaking countries, but these days I tend to find myself more adrift. The only place where I really feel that I have my finger on the pulse is in the UK, because HarperCollins are my primary publishers—they’re the people I deal with directly when it comes to editing the books into shape and presenting them to the world for the first time. Since I’m so closely involved with them, I usually hear about their plans in advance. But as far as the rest of the world goes, I often have no idea what’s happening with my books, their release dates, what the covers are going to be like, etc. etc. etc. And, to be honest, that’s a good thing. A writer should focus as much as possible on the writing side of their career, not the publishing side, otherwise it’s easy to become sidetracked. If you have an agent you can trust, you’re better off leaving most of the business decisions and dealings to him or her. The quality and quantity of your work should be your only real worry (and in that order), and the better your books do, the more of a back seat you should be free to take when it comes to the day-to-day mechanics of getting them published and sold. Writing is a vocation, but publishing is a business. If you have no idea at all of what’s happening on the business side, I think that’s a negative, and you could run into trouble somewhere along the line. But if you spend too much time focusing on the sales figures and publicity machine, your work might suffer. The trick to being a content writer, I think, is finding a happy balance between the two and not trying to control every aspect of your career. I’m fairly happy with the balance I’ve managed to strike—although it does sometimes mean that I’m late finding out about things like Kindle!