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Friday, July 8, 2011

Guest blogger Tracey Alley tells us what it's like to be a writer...and gets it right

Listen to my friend Tracey Alley, author of many books, including The Witchcraft Wars series and the Kaynos History tales, as she gives you the scoop on what a writer's life is like. And isn't that what we're all about here at "It's Like Making Sausage...?"

Check out Tracey's books here:
Books by Tracey Alley

There are usually three things most people assume when you tell them you’re an author. One, that you must be rich – sorry, see J.K. Rowling and co for that, most writers consider themselves lucky to make a living out of writing and the rest of us work for less than peanuts.

Two, that you must know a lot of celebrities – well again, see the big names for that. Your average writer is a solitary creature, rather like a spider, who weaves their webs inside the confines of their own little nests and rarely venture out to meet any real people let alone celebrities.

Three, that it’s an easy profession. Whoa! You could not be more wrong. Yes there are those who are born with a creative imagination – that’s only the start, not, by any means, the whole story. I can come up with thousands of ideas, that’s never been a problem, but can I craft them into something that is readable? Do I know enough of the mechanics to make a decent story into something that is not only entertaining but well written, well edited, well put together? Most of us use beta readers, editors and critique groups because the simple fact is that very, very few of us are capable of doing the entire thing from word one to the end without some help along the way.

Quite simply writing is not the simple task that many people assume it to be and it is becoming ever more complex as so many writers choose to go the independent route rather than stick with a traditional publishing house. It’s not enough to just have talent, assuming that you even have any, but you also have to have hard work, determination, perseverance and humility. You have to be able to craft a story well and take criticism with class and dignity when you’re failing in that task. And let’s not forget – just because you’ve had a great idea that doesn’t necessarily mean it will translate into a great book. I would estimate that for most writers probably 95% of their ideas end up as nothing more than that, an idea.
Then once you’ve had the great idea and managed to craft it into a well-written book now you have to try and sell it. This may mean querying agents or publishing houses directly or, if like me, you’ve chosen to take your book to the marketplace independently, you have to sell it directly to the public. That’s the hardest job of all.

Very few, if any, writers that I know are, by nature, natural salespeople. Thus the task of marketing and promoting your book is not an easy one but essential if you ever want to sell even a single copy. You have to learn the intricacies of social media and how to use that effectively without alienating potential readers but still letting them know about your product. You have to find reviewers who are willing to look at your work, and cross your fingers each time that you’ll actually get a good review. All in all it’s a tough business. Simply promoting and marketing your book can take up an enormous amount of time in your day and of course, by now, you should also be working on the next book.

At any rate you get the idea. Writers aren’t automatically rich or famous, we don’t necessarily know any celebrities and it’s not easy. However, having said all that, if you are a writer, and I truly believe that some of us are just born that way, then you love every single minute of it. All the hard work, all the editing and reworking of your novels, all the criticisms and praise and even all the marketing and promotion. As a writer I love all of it, well, maybe not the marketing and promotion side, but I love to be able to do what I love and have people actually read my work – no matter how much hard work that might take. So to every reader – thank you. To every reader who actually liked the book – thank you even more.


  1. Thanks Mary Anna for the opportunity to be a guest on your blog. I enjoyed it and hope that maybe I've enlightened some people about the real truth behind being a writer.

  2. Any time, Tracey! I think people enjoy reading the backstory behind the books they enjoy.