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Phone photos November 2015 056

The writer takes a comfortable position on a beach with a notebook or computer in hand, looks out onto the ocean for inspiration and starts writing.  Or, a writer takes a seat in front of an old-fashioned typewriter or modern computer in a quiet office on a leisurely afternoon with a smoothing cup of tea on the desk and starts typing away.   How many people recall such movie images when they think about the world of writers?  A lot.  Unfortunately, this is a dream for most writers.  The reality is that writers are not just writers anymore.

Actually, nowadays, writers are multitaskers in a sense that they are expected to be experts on almost all areas of writing, editing and publishing.  Independent authors are especially expected to do so.  They write their book.  They proofread and edit the work.  They hire editors to comb through the book again.  They hire designers and graphic artists for the cover.  They learn to upload the finished material onto the publishing website and learn to follow exact specifications.  They hire publicists, if they have the money.

Then, the advertising part begins.  Independent authors need to learn to create their own website, Twitter account, Facebook account, LinkedIn account and other countless accounts.  But, it is not just a matter of creating them; they have to put energy into constantly increasing the number of people they are in contact with to effectively advertise their works.  They also have to offer the printed books to independent bookstores and libraries.

Writers who chose the traditional route of publishing are not in any better shape.  Once a book is written, they research agents, publishing houses and write endless query letters.   If they are lucky, the book maybe picked and published.  But, then comes the negotiation of the material.  Often times, they are asked to rewrite the book to follow trends to make sure that it has a chance to sell.  The process is time consuming and frustrating.  And, it pays very little.

In addition, most writers have fulltime jobs or are fulltime students, or both.  They have to find the time to writer after their other job is done.  Sometimes, the house never gets cleaned and the leftover pizza from the night before is the only lunch to eat.

How did writers end up here?  It is difficult to say.  There may be several reasons for it.  First, historically speaking, a lot more people are educated than ever before.  This means that there are a lot more people out there who can write decent books.  The competition has increased.  Second, due to technological advancements, less people read books.  (Ironic?)  Lastly, with the profits of publishing companies shrinking in the world, writers are asked to do more for less.

Whatever the reason is, the fact is that most writers do not end up on a sunny beach or in a quiet office to write with a cool drink or cup of tea in hand.  It is a dream realized for the privileged few who made it big.  And, unless the capitalistic machinery changes where everyone wants books for dirt cheap or even free, this dream will remain a dream for most writers.  For now, writers are simply frantic, exhausted multitaskers.

M. J. Mandoki