I've been talking about goals. It’s worth spending some time figuring out the balance between doing what you want to do and doing what you need to do to make money.
Art versus Commerce in Writing Goals
|Molly also writes as Cece Barlow
Molly Blaisdell started by writing novels, but she needed to make an income and wanted to do it from writing. To turn writing into a career, she advises, “Take any gig you can get. If the checks don’t bounce, it’s a good gig.”
This attitude has given her dozens of books in print, most of them work for hire beginning readers or picture books. It also led to her first trade picture book, Rembrandt and the Boy Who Drew Dogs. “Work for hire made me bold and helped me put together a professional front,” Blaisdell says.
Not everyone puts income first. For Louise Spiegler, another job pays the bills. With writing, the main goal is always “to write compelling, passionate, funny, tragic, thought-provoking books that really speak to my readers. This means I need to keep pushing myself to work on my craft, to think hard and work hard.”
But Spiegler recognizes that being a successful writer doesn’t stop with craft. “Professionally, I also wanted to make sure that I get more people reading my second book, The Jewel and the Key than read my first. I get emails from people who have read The Amethyst Road and felt very moved by it. This is the most rewarding thing for me. I just want to make sure every book finds its readers.”
Janet S. Fox, author of picture books and novels such as The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle, says, “I want my books to be exquisite. To be loved. To be read forever. To sell, yes—to be commercial—but to be beautiful, and beautifully crafted. I’m constantly questioning my work from two angles: will readers read it? And, will it be eternally beautiful? Commerce and craft—my overwhelming goal is to keep these two warring factions in balance.”
Keeping Your Writing Goals Flexible
Goals can change over time, as we learn more about ourselves and our field. Author Esther Hershenhorn discovered joy in helping other writers tell their stories well. “I began coaching writers in person, via the mail, on the phone, from near and far,” she said.
“Like my character Pippin Biddle in my picture book Fancy That, whose hidden talents save the day as well as his three orphaned sisters, I returned home from my journey with a prize far better than what I’d first sought. I spend my days doing what I love and loving what I do: writing, teaching and coaching other writers.”
Hershenhorn adds, “I remind my students to be open to unimagined possibilities and opportunities. I’ve watched writers assess their interests, talents, and experiences to find related children’s book niches—reviewing children’s books for a journal or website, writing curriculum materials, working with book fairs, selling at bookstores, writing PR plans for fellow writers, returning to library school.”
Chris Eboch’s book Advanced Plotting helps writers fine-tune their plots, while You Can Write for Children: How to Write Great Stories, Articles, and Books for Kids and Teenagers offers great insight to beginning and intermediate writers. Her novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery that brings ancient Egypt to life; and The Well of Sacrifice, an action-packed drama set in ninth-century Mayan Guatemala. Learn more at https://chriseboch.com/ or her Amazon page.
Chris also writes for adults under the name Kris Bock. Her Furrever Friends Sweet Romance series features the employees and customers at a cat café. Watch as they fall in love with each other and shelter cats. Get a free 10,000-word story set in the world of the Furrever Friends cat café when you sign up for the Kris Bock newsletter.
Kris Bock also writes romantic suspense novels. Fans of Mary Stewart, Barbara Michaels, and Nora Roberts will want to check out Kris Bock’s romantic adventures. “Counterfeits is the kind of romantic suspense novel I have enjoyed since I first read Mary Stewart’s Moonspinners.” 5 Stars – Roberta at Sensuous Reviews blog