Clare B. Dunkle

The Business of Novel Writing

By Clare B. Dunkle

Snake in the Frankfurt Zoo

Since I never intended to become a writer, it goes without saying that I never intended to become a professional author. I'm still at the beginning of my career, so I learn new things about the business with every book I write. But in eight years, I've sold eight book-length fiction manuscripts and seen six of them become published novels. I'm writing for one of our country's largest publishing houses, with divisions in English-speaking markets around the world, and two top-notch editors and a wonderful literary agent are looking after me. That means I'm bound to know something about this business.

But, like many other authors, I only know my own particular path to success. All I can give you is a glimpse at the process. If you're curious about how books reach the store, this section may be more than you want, but if you're dead set on building your own career from the ground up, you will need to go well beyond the basic advice in my pages. This is a tricky and dangerous business, with far more losers than winners. It's up to you to keep yourself out of trouble.

I wish you all the best if you have publishing endeavors of your own. As the Irish say, Fair play to you!

Being an author means answering your fan mail instead of working on your revision because the fan mail is more fun.

Being an author means believing just about everything your editor tells you because you are firmly convinced she's the lifeline anchoring you to reality.

Being an author means reading an unfavorable comment about one of your books and then arguing with the reviewer for hours in the pleasant seclusion of your mind.

Being an author means being unable to listen to your books on tape because the sound of those familiar words in a stranger's voice produces an attack of the willies.

Being an author means spending early book signings chatting with the latte makers at the coffee counter because no one else in the store knows you exist.

Being an author means spending later book signings in a whirl of name-spellings and handshakes, a little sorry because now that people know about you, there's no more time to chat.

Being an author means the occasional pleasure of emails from your editor that begin with "Lovely news!"

Being an author means feeling vaguely startled at the sight of your own books in the bookstore, as if you have discovered that one of your pets has gotten loose and is running around in the mall.

Being an author means having the power to add memories to the minds of strangers thousands of miles away.

Being an author means being a writer—first, foremost, and always. An author is an accident of economics and publicity, but a writer is the self-contained, unassailable spirit that creates for its own delight.

All webpage text copyright 2003-2014 by Clare B. Dunkle, unless attributed otherwise. All photos copyright 2003-2014 by Joseph R. Dunkle, unless attributed otherwise. You may make one print copy of any page on this site for private or educational use. You may quote the author using short excerpts from this website, provided you attribute the quote. You may use the photos in both print and virtual media to promote the author's books or events. All other copying or use of this website material, either photos or text, is forbidden without the express written consent of the author.