‘ON THE STREET WHERE YOU WRITE’
The Authoring Community – A Microcosm of the Wider World
Imagine if you will, a street filled with businesses of all types and sizes. From the slick, multi-storey building that fills part of the skyline, through to multi-national and franchised supermarkets, workshops, manufacturing facilities, service entities and the little mixed-business on the corner, each has a purpose and a place on the street. In turn, each has its own unique story to tell.
I believe that the authoring community is similar to such a street. Each author is a business, selling a type of product (their genre) and each is of a specific size (contracted, indie author etc.). These commercial entities depend heavily upon the businesses surrounding them – the editors, agents, designers, IT gurus and publicists et al, who are an essential cog in the publishing wheel (if I’m to be totally honest, these actually make the wheels move).
Perhaps each morning, when the mixed-business-on-the-corner’s owner sweeps his or her step and greets the milk and bread deliverers, he or she might look up; at the multi-storey-building. As the open sign is turned, and the owner of the mixed-business-on-the-corner takes his or her place to greet the first of the day’s customers, thoughts might stray to dream about being as big as the multi-storey-building. Obversely, there may be eyes looking down from the street’s largest building; eyes that dream of a simpler life, where success is measured in more personal terms. Regardless of how one business regards the other, one thing remains constant – as the street comes to life, businesses supporting everything from the multi-story-building down to the mixed-business-on-the-corner start their days, churning out products in the knowledge that their fortunes lie in the success of failure of others.
Perhaps, as authors, we should build our own virtual streets, and choose the place most suited to our understanding of success, and where we want to be on the street. Before we all flock to the multi-storey-building (Random House etc.), we should ask ourselves, “is this the right environment for me and my work?” I suspect that for many of us, the answer to that question would be, “yes”, due mainly to the prospect of excellent employer support and an awesome pension plan.
For others of us, perhaps there is great joy to be found as the multi-national supermarket (high volume, low priced publishers like Harlequin, M&B etc.), or a franchised electrical store (lower volume, specialist publisher). Your own idea of success could just as easily be to own the mixed-business-on-the-corner (the indie author). Regardless of the choice an author makes, the street’s character comes from the diversity of its businesses, its people, and (most importantly) its sense of community. Where you, as an author, fit in with that community is entirely up to you.
All of the street’s commercial entities are currently open for business, and anybody can walk through any of its doors and exchange greetings. As an author, you might not be received in the manner you expected, but you can always drown your sorrows at the coffee-shop-down-the-road, where you’ll find a sympathetic ear and the company of like minded people, who have perhaps had a similar experience. The great thing about the street however, is that you decide how you want to run your business, and you decide what doors you enter.
As for me, I think I’ll own the coffee-shop-down-the-road, in one of the older and more quaint buildings. As well as selling reasonably priced coffee and wickedly delicious pastries, I shall have a reading room (graced with Chesterfield couches, of course), internet that rocks (for author research and social networking) and a small book shop filled with the works of my favourite indie authors (including me). I think I’d enjoy welcoming everybody through my doors, regardless of the building from which they emerge.
Personally, that’s my idea of the best possible authoring community.