Saturday, 11 July 2009

Should money flow to the writer?

Money should flow to the writer.

This is a phrase I've seen used a lot on various writers' boards. Usually it comes up in response to a query about using editorial services or scam publishers. The first time I saw it I thought "Damn Right! Give me the money!" but as with all things I've come to realise it's not the coverall mantra for every situation I first thought it was.

The trouble with these stock responses is they can blinker you into a mindset that doesn't help you in the longterm. Of course I want the money to flow to the writer. Who wouldn't? But the hard reality is money will only flow towards you if you have something to sell. And until you reach that heady peak of perfection everything has to be seen as a learning curve. You wouldn't refuse to pay for a university education on the basis that money should flow towards you even if you had no skills to offer, would you? So it's the same with writing. Until you learn enough to sell your work you have to be prepared to pay for the education you receive.

Now, I've got nothing against peer review groups. If you're lucky you can pick up some great tips from them as well as gauge reaction to your work. But to say they provide all the training you require to become a publishable writer is naive. Over the years I have spent hundreds of pounds on writers' courses and books to research and learn this craft and I still don't think I know it all. To believe you can get all that for free from a few well meaning amateurs on a website is dooming yourself to failure.

What I'm saying is, Yes, Money Should Flow To The Writer - but only once you have earned that title by producing something someone will buy. Until then, be prepared to pay for your education.

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