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    Sing to Me, Oh Muse

    "I've got an idea for a book!" Once people find out I'm an editor, that's almost always the first thing I hear. If I had a penny for every person I know who has an idea for a book...well, I'd probably have a few bucks. To go from having an idea for a book to actually putting your idea down on paper is a huge accomplishment that most people never get around to doing. If you've gotten that far, well done. You should be proud of yourself.

    Now all you have to do is wait for the money to start rolling in, right? Not exactly. Most people I've talked to have this strange idea that writing a book is some kind of magical process. You get inspired by an amazing, original, creative idea. The creativity fairy waves her magic wand and a wonderful, perfect book is born. All you have to do is write it down and you're good to go.

    The truth is that writing is a hard process. It takes practice, and lots of it, to become a good writer. Your first book is probably not going to ready to be published by a traditional publisher. The same may be true of a second, third, or fourth book. Writers who make a living from writing novels are few and far between. Even successful book authors who make a living writing are usually those who write multiple books a year, and those cases are few and far between. People who make a living writing are far more likely to be freelance writers who write content for businesses, magazines, etc.

    And becoming a millionaire through writing? That's most likely a pipe dream. Certainly there have been authors who have done it (J. K. Rowling, Stephen King, and John Grisham, for example), but they are very, very rare. Advances on novels can vary widely, but a first-time author should be realistic. Depending on the publishing house, the genre being written in, and the confidence in the project, you could see an advance of $1,000 to $25,000. Naturally, there are exceptions to this, but as you can see, the advance from one book is probably not going to be enough to quit your day job. Of course, that is not all the money to be made on a book, since you hope your book will earn out its advance.

    The process of getting published is also a long, arduous process. Querying agents and publishing houses is often frustrating. Not only do you have to find someone who represents or publishes your specific genre, but you also have to find someone who is excited enough about it to spend the thousands of dollars it takes to edit, print, and market a book.

    So does this mean you should give up writing as a waste of time? Definitely not! If it's your passion, do it. If you want to be published, keep practicing. Join a writers group, either locally or online, to get helpful feedback on your work. Write fanfiction, start a blog, or just write with no expectation of having someone else read it. Slow and steady wins the race! Writing is not something you should be in for the money (she says, as published authors the world over snort into their coffee). It's something you should do for the love of it.