Seriously. I need someone who’s not only really really good at stuff I’m not good at, but someone who likes it, actually likes the “running a business” part. (Facebook ads, mailing lists, cultivating prerelease reviews, redoing all the EPUBs to reflect new backmatter links for each outlet, resubmitting them, tracking the updates, tracking expenses, etc.)
Ever heard of Emergenetics? When I contracted at Microsoft, everyone took the test. TL;DR it’s a test that (if you answer truthfully) lets you identify your “work type” and post it on the outside of your cube, so that people who were previously shaking their head at you, can now understand at least a little about why you think and work the way you do.
It’s a pie chart, divided into Blue (rational, mathematical), Red (empathy, emotional intuition), Yellow (creative, rule breaker/ignorer, easily bored with routine tasks) and Green (by the book, enjoys stability, can focus on repetitive work).
Well. My chart looks like this.
You can see that my green/”Structural” is at …3%. Which means you’re the type who hates nitty gritty shit like software testing (running the same scripts over and over and over), payroll (same goddamn thing every two weeks), and, um, yeah…the endless recurring cycle of promotion and hustle and backmatter updates etc.
When you hear writers say “I just want to write!” it’s not just a willful ignorance of the brutal reality of the industry – it’s this, an inherent personality type that can feel a physical pain in the brain when confronted with repetitive tasks, a dilation of time that makes them feel like they take 1000x as long as the “fun stuff.” I’m willing to bet that most writers are primarily yellow with very little green, and varying amounts of red and blue.
Which is why most successful creative endeavors, outside of literature, are partnerships. Because ideally, there’s one guy behind the curtain, doing the wizard shit, and the other guy in front of it, willing to wear a tie and go to meetings and get on the phone and sell, sell, sell.
For authors, this has traditionally meant just going with a publishing house, but that’s not…entreprenurial. Publishing is actually, creatively speaking, the worst solution for a “yellow pie” person. You’re suddenly inside a slowly rolling bureaucracy, with decisions needing to be “escalated for buy in from all the key players blah blah blecch.” Unless you’re already a bestselling author, you’ve surrendered control over your cover, jacket copy, maybe even your title. You’re contracted to produce a book of X thousand words whether the story needs that many or not. You’re either a fast writer who’s only allowed to publish one book a year because more might “dilute your brand” or whatever stupid reason they have for it, or you’re a slow writer who’s under the gun to push out a book a year…
Ideally, every self pubber could hook up with a Jobs to their Woz, a Ballmer to their Gates, a Packard to their Hewlett. I love the freedom of selfpub, I love the control, the immediacy. And yeah, obviously you get a business partner, s/he’s going to tell you, you need a different cover, or a better blurb, etc. But that’s the kind of compromise I can make, if it sells more books.
Every industry has its share of flakes, and let’s be honest, creative industries have more than most. I’ve heard stories about editors who blow off paying clients with endless delays (or fail to make basic corrections), cover artists who use Comic Sans, or put purple text on a purple background, and want to charge “extra” for redoing it in a free font from dafont.com, small press publishers who dump their writers with a form letter without so much as a bcc: to cover the list…
Yeah. It’s tough. Hell, I would LOVE to start an ebook publishing house, “FlakeFreePress” or some such. And just work with flake-free people, publish at “Internet speed” with no layers of bureaucracy, put out quality product from people who have a vision but who, like me, don’t want to do all the “boring stuff.”
I’ve advised more than a couple authors on cover changes, done book editing/story steering, I have a sense of the market (even if I don’t always steer my own boat into the wind). I know who’s a good editor, who makes good covers, I know enough “flake free” people to get it started. I just need a COO/CFO to my CEO. Yeah, that’s a “day job” I could get into…
Anyway. When you hear authors bitch that they want to “just write,” don’t presume that it’s just a petulant ignorance of the “market realities.” Often it’s a hard-wired brain reaction to tasks we’re just not built for.