Our conversation: Writers’ plight

Our conversation: Writers’ plight

ardainaArdain Isma

The publishing industry is no doubt a multibillion dollar conglomerate, but it’s not only publishers that get to enjoy or even savor such a lucrative—never-ending—windfall. It is a well-crafted industry filled with wizards ready to prey on their next victims. Everyone seems to know how to make money, but the authors themselves. It’s like building the most expensive and luxuriant castle off writers’ vulnerability, their raw innocence and naïveté.

I didn’t know this until I decided to become a seasoned writer. By trade, I’m an educator and university professor, but writing takes a special place in my heart. As more readers connect with my writing, I’ve decided to structure my time in a fashion where writing will always have its place. Prolific writing, like any other profession, requires not just strategic thinking but also the logistic and the wherewithal. In other words, you can’t win a game if you’re clueless about its rules. Too often, however, writers go dumbfounded and utterly ignorant about the predators waiting for them at the finish line of their manuscripts.

From book reviewers to “BIG” time writers’ clubs to literary magazines to literary agencies to commercial and independent publishers, you’ll find an army of mean-spirited, untrustworthy individuals ready to launch an assault on you, not your work. Adding to this, there is a multitude of parasitic elements waiting in the wing, to exploit writers’ anger after unexpected and unwanted deceptions.

At writers’ conferences, speakers are charged $50 for a 10-minute chat to provide guidance to prospective authors. There is always a gimmick or a bait being laid. “A writer will get signed on by a well-known literary agency.” I go by and watch with broken heart the poor individuals congregating in multiple corners, trying one last time to refine their work before they go and bet their $50 dollars for 10 minutes. Usually hundreds if not thousands of writers attend these conferences. This is just an example of what’s waiting out there for those who want to take their literary talent to the next level.

Having said this, there are ways for authors to succeed and to remain exploitation proof from industry predatory practices. First and foremost, as a writer, you need to know how to create your own niche. You need to know who you’re writing for and how well this particular audience responds to your writing. You may not be prolific, but you need to be consistent. You need the right tools to connect with readers—a webpage, a Facebook page etc.… Social Media is key to modern day success in the literary world.

Of course, since you want to become a relevant writer, you need to know how to write. If you don’t, you need to start educating yourself by either reading a lot or by taking writing courses or participating in writers’ workshops. You also need to network with other writers of your literary genre.

Remember, no one has the magic key when it comes to literary finesse. In literature, perfection is a relative term. So, make your work as best as it can be, and be consistent. Build an audience, for in the end it is your relevance that will force editors and publishers alike to take a serious look at your work. –Dr. Ardain Isma, educator, author.

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