Fiction writing: work or play? The fiction author as entrepreneur.
Recently, on a question-and-answer web site I contribute to, I asked whether there exists a platform for emerging authors similar to Kickstarter. With Kickstarter, entrepreneurs can propose to develop a project or product, and individuals can donate if they find the idea appealing. The entrepreneur then uses those funds to develop the project.
I got a rather scathing response from a published author. This author presumed that my question meant that I was looking for some quick and lazy shortcut to becoming a successful author. Rather than answer my question, she outlined all of the steps that I must take if I ever hope to become a successful author - steps I had already taken and will continue to take.
You see, I had the gall to assume that everyone views emerging fiction authors as I do – namely, as aspiring entrepreneurs.
After all, an author is her own brand, and her fiction is her product. And if you know the names Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, you know that their brands have been very, very successful.
For most successful authors, it takes years to hone their craft and to develop their brand before they finally start breaking even. Perhaps it's human nature to resent people who achieve success faster and easier than we ourselves did.
Yet why should that deter me or any other aspiring author – a.k.a. entrepreneur – from seeking out every means available to maximize the time and energy we get to pursue our craft? This, after all, is just good business. And the less time I spend worrying about how to pay my bills, the more time I have to just write.
For entrepreneurs who wish to start a business or service, there is Kickstarter. Why couldn't or shouldn't there be a similar platform for aspiring authors?
I think people are resistant to this idea because they don't view fiction writing as true "work." It would seem that most people view fiction writing as a hobby. As play. Yet for a talented, hard-working, and lucky few, fiction writing gets to be a very lucrative business. Somebody has to win that lottery – my philosophy is, why not me?
So yes, I will continue to invest years of my time and energy into developing my craft, marketing myself, and constantly improving. In the meantime, in the spirit of the entrepreneur, I will continue to seek out platforms that maximize the time and energy I get to devote to my work. Because yes, fiction writing is work.