Is Professional Writing Doomed?

Tarring the Boat (Le Bateau goudronné)

  • Is there future in freelance writing?

Freelance copy/content writing that has to do with selling or marketing is a different story. But what about writing (produced by writers to make a living) that aims at informing, or merely entertaining?

Magazine articles and newspaper articles fall under this category, but so do short stories, novels, books of poetry, etc.

“There is so much wonderful writing on the internet, which is free. Eventually, writing will be like musical recordings. Everyone will have access to everything. … The world is changing–has changed–considerably. Many excellent writers give away 200-page books for free–really excellent. Digitization is creating an entire new world.” — RK, Bob Bly‘s Facebook friend

  • Is the internet killing professional writing?

Back in 2008 Bob Bly interviewed writer Harlan Ellison, and the latter blamed the internet for making life a lot harder for professional writers. Mr. Ellison criticized the “slovenliness of thinking” on the web as well as the “slacker-gen philosophy and belief today that everything should be free.”

“With all the sites publishing articles and short stories for
which authors are not paid, and which readers don’t pay to read —
well, what would you expect?”

  • Do success stories still happen?

Notwithstanding (or in part thanks to?) the changes and challenges brought on by the internet, Kindle, etc. — yes, success stories still happen.

“Last month, Lara Prescott was preparing to graduate from her three-year creative writing fellowship at the University of Texas. Two weeks later, she is sitting on book deals worth at least $2m (£1.5m), after publishers on both sides of the Atlantic battled to get their hands on her first novel.”

Will you write for the love of writing, in other words be an amateur? Will you hold on to your dream of writing for a living? Will you be the next success story?

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Image: Édouard Manet. Tarring the Boat (Le Bateau goudronné), July–August 1873. Oil on canvas, Overall: 19 11/16 x 24 1/8 in. (50 x 61.2 cm). BF166. Public Domain.

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On the Perks of Aging, Spec Work, & Chicken Soup

“The drive to be successful while still in the first blush of youth … does not apply to the contemplative arts.” My dear fellow writers over 40, we happen to be “in the peak of condition!” as Poirot would say.

“Never work on spec.” — Bob Bly. Watch this video.

Chicken Soup for the Soul wants your stories and poems. Submit.

A Different Species

“Want to guess what percentage of the CEOs I spoke with talked in
plain, everyday English?

One hundred percent. Every one of them. Without exception.

So you know how many used high falutin talk or more refined
prose: zero percent.

The lesson: The idea that when you are writing to C-level or
other senior executives you have to use “professional,” formal,
or stuffy language — and not plain talk — has no basis in fact,
at least as proven out by my research with its admittedly small
sampling. …

To assume that CEOs are a different species speaking a different
language is in most cases largely an error.”

Bob Bly

Make $ with Kindle

 

“It is this formula first stated by Fred Gleeck: TBR = BR + ABR

It means your total book revenues are your book royalties
combined with what I call “ancillary book revenues.” …

You get ABR in a variety of ways.These can include

  •  paid speaking engagements
  • … consulting …
  • rendering your professional services (copywriting, law,
    psychotherapy, or whatever) …
  • and gaining a reputation as a
    recognized expert that can help sell more of your other books and products.

So don’t expect to get rich from the BR of your Kindle e-book
sales on Amazon. It happens, but rarely.

However, making a handsome TBR happens to a lot of Kindle e-book
and traditional paperbound book authors — thanks to the ABR.”

— Bob Bly  (an excerpt from an email newsletter)

Sign up to receive free email newsletters from Bob. They are short, packed with information, and fun to read.

Standoff?

“A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance
accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take
orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations,
analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook
a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”

Robert Heinlein

“I love Heinlein’s writing, especially Stranger in a Strange Land
and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress — but I have never read a
statement that I disagreed with more than the above. …

I believe the age of the Renaissance Man is over, and the age of
the specialist is here. And I, for one, am cheering.”

Bob Bly

What say you?