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Opportunity is a Pimp

Opportunity is a Pimp

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Published by Joe Schwartz
An article I recently wrote for the blog authors promoting authors. Core advice every artist generally learns the hard way.
An article I recently wrote for the blog authors promoting authors. Core advice every artist generally learns the hard way.

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Categories:Types, Speeches
Published by: Joe Schwartz on Mar 10, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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02/06/2012

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Opportunityis a pimp byJoe SchwartzOpportunity is a pimp. He will not wait for you and expects you to be ready regardlessthe time or inconvenience. There is rarely a second chance with opportunity. He willexpect you to wordlessly follow wherever he may take you, despite what your reservations may be. The primary thing to remember with opportunity is that he expectsyou to make money for him. If you can't do that, maybe it's time to find a new career.Sound harsh? It is. To be a professional writer, or any style of artist, you must have adevotion to your craft that is unquestionable. You must be willing to go anywhere, meetanybody, forgo sleep and food should it bring you even one step closer to your goal. For some, the road is easy, but those fortunate few are truly the exception to the rule. The restof us mortals find that in addition to our forty-hour work week that we are focused on our art an additional ten to fifteen hours. This includes writing, editing, book signings,research, query letters, meeting other writers either in person or virtually, and spreadingthe gospel that is your work with flyers, bookstore consignments, and the Internet. If youhave a spouse and children, you may add a minimum five hours due to the inevitableinterruption factor.It took a year of sleep deprivation to complete your version of the great American novel.Your family and friends all say its wonderful, a real writer in the family, we couldn't bemore proud. Does the expression ‘standing in a garage doesn't make you a Cadillac’ ringany bells? The people closest to you are the worst critics of your work. They love you,which is wonderful, but it is not especially helpful. Until you find an editor, opportunitydoesn't even know where you live.Editors are soulless beasts that roam the earth and live to devour inexperienced writer’smanuscripts. Okay, so that is a little over the top, yet if you think your work is wonderful, perfect, the next 'Great Gatsby' waiting to be discovered like a beautiful starlet on theSunset Strip, good luck with that. Most novels have been vigorously edited and mostnovelists, including Faulkner, Hemingway, and Steinbeck, have had editors. Great menand women who names if listed would be unrecognizable as names in a phone book. That being said a good writer and a good editor can make a terrific novel together. Don't befooled though, it is work, hard work that will tax body, mind, soul. You will question anddoubt yourself, your editor, and maybe even wonder why in the hell you ever thought youcould do this anyway. Then one day it is done. No more re-writes, no more red ink toslosh through. Now what?If you dislike the word no, stop now.
 
There are two paths that are both equally difficult to achieve the same goal: self-publishor submit your unsolicited manuscript to literary agents via a query letter. You may evendo both, but do not submit the self-pub book to an agent. More on this later.A word of warning in regards to self-publication. Do not pay someone to publish your  book. This is a scam. If you pay anyone during this whole process, pay a certified,independent editor with a proven track record of published books to their credit withauthors you can speak with as to their credentials. Not unlike hiring a contractor to work on your house, you take bids and make a final decision based partly on cost, partly onexperience. The exception here is no matter what the outcome you cannot blame anyone but yourself if your book sucks.Talent unlike tenacity is an organic thing. You either got it or you don't. That isn't to sayyou can't be skilled at what you do. Give fifteen minutes a day to any dedication and onecan become a theoretical master over any subject. There is, however, a touch guided byinsight that can only be described as the elusive talent. At a certain point you will have todecide what side of the coin you have landed. Do you enjoy writing? Does it give you alift to write even if no one is reading your work? Then, by God, go in peace. If, however,you want to find fulfillment, readership, a career applying electronic ink to a digital page,and (gasp) a livable income from writing you should at least be a damn good storyteller in your particular genre. I highly recommend the low-budget film available at almost any public library titled, "The Hero's 2 Journeys," starring the amazing Christopher Vogler,author of "The Writer's Journey." If the information contained between the book and themovie doesn't make you excited as having the power to accurately predict lotterynumbers, then buy a guitar.The acquisition of an agent for a debut novelist should be a submission of a writer’s bestwork. If you have self-published in the past, I wouldn't mention it in your query letter unless you have sold thousands of copies. There is a stink to self-published books thatsmells worse than molting sweat socks to an agent. Your odds of getting an agent to takeyour self-published work, as-is, and presenting it to a major publisher are about as goodas winning the next Pulitzer Prize. On the bright side, if you do get an agent and becomea popular author, you will own the exclusive rights to a book no publisher outside of youhas access to print. Literally, a license to make money. I consider my own book an ace upmy sleeve, that is both an introduction to the literary world and a possible gold mineclaim to be declared at a later date.The best thing about being a writer is that your age, your looks, your weight, your religious views, your sexual orientation, or your gender will not determine your  popularity. It is one of the few level playing fields still available today that is open toanyone who possesses the power to engage a reader. To initiate the suspension of disbelief so well a person will sacrifice going to bed on time to finish a chapter or thewhole damn book.

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Abhinav added this note
This is as real as it gets Joe, this has set me thinking, and by Jove I could not wait to finish the entire thing.
Joe Schwartz added this note
The best advice is that which we give ourselves.
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