Explaining publishing to an alien, or just a family member

Monday, April 20, 2009
Lately, while trying to describe my writing projects to friends and family, I've realized how publishing and writing has it's own different language, but I never thought of how much of a different culture it might be, as well. I take it for granted that "books," "magazines," "agents," and "publishers" are general terms over which we can all find a common ground.
Sure, I blog for part of my living. I understand that the business aspect can seem quite alien. Mention Twitter and there is the patronizing chuckle and, "So, you are on Twitter?"
However, I find it strange that members of my family, who are well versed in Facebook and Goggle, seem intimidated by finding my words on the screen. Countless times I've been told, after e-mailing a link regarding posts on my open blog, "I would have read that, but I couldn't possibly figure out how to get in." And yet they can conduct online research about an obscure vacation destination and post photos from their time there on Flickr.
I've been working on a book for a collaboration, which is pretty straight-forward
. I mean, I've written the book proposal and submitted it, so I was able to explain the subject for 20+ pages. (Okay, well the jury may still be out on that statement!) It is the traditional publishing route: proposal, agent, publisher.
But then I realize that for many, who write a resume to apply for a job, the business process of writing IS from a different planet. Think about it: you want someone to pay you for your time, effort and energy for the job to write a book. But instead of just presenting your credentials and passing through the gate, you need to, in the case of fiction, finish your work or, in the case of nonfiction, have done a lot of research and market research. Often while holding down the daily job that does accept a resume and allows you in.
I'm glad that I love to write and, I guess, I don't mind that my family and friends can't seem to find my blogs or Tweets. (Perhaps the Internet is as open as you want it to be?)
But I think I'll take my mother's suggestion and keep my resume polished. Just in case my latest job application of collaborating on a book doesn't pan out.

Elizabeth King Humphrey is a creativity coach and the moderator/main blogger for
CoastalCarolinaMoms. She has her own blog, TheWriteElizabeth, where she contemplates how to fill her day with joy and wonder, bypassing all (or most!) negativity and angst...particularly about the business aspect of writing.


Briana said...

Your article hit home. I just finished complaining to my husband that several of my friends have yet to look at my blog. Although I have the most supportive family ever, explaining my choices to my friends is shockingly hard. I recently quit using the term "blog" and started calling it my "site" after watching friends roll their eyes, assuming that I was keeping an inane, self-obsessed diary.

Patricia said...

I gave up many years ago even trying to involve my friends and family in my writing/publishing world. They do understand it when I say, "I have a new book out!" Or, "Check out my article in Cat Fancy Magazine this month." But beyond that, the details of my day-to-day work and accomplishments over these 35 years are difficult for non-writers to comprehend.

I've even had to alter my response to their typical question--"What are you working on, now?" My answer reflects an aspect of my work that they can undersand--"I am editing a book for another author," or "I just finished a book of cat stories," or "I'm presenting a workshop for authors in Baltimore next week."

It seems that no matter what you say, you get a blank stare and the conversation moves on. Even though friends and family have watched as I've earned a living with my writing for all of these years, most of them still don't know exactly what I do on a day-to-day basis.

Go figure,
Patricia Fry

Rachel V. Olivier said...

Amen, sister to all of the above!

Elizabeth King Humphrey said...

While I wish we all had the support we deserve for our writing, selfishly, I'm certainly glad that I'm not alone.

Thanks for responding!


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