Mark Terry

Monday, July 26, 2010

Steering An Aircraft Carrier

July 26, 2010
An aircraft carrier weighs (not quite a nautical term, sorry) about 105,000 tons. Obviously they don't go from zero to sixty very quickly. And they don't turn on a dime. In fact, in order to get something that big up to speed takes a tremendous amount of energy to overcome inertia and a fair amount of time to turn.

Insert writing metaphor here.

Okay, Mark, what's on your mind today.

A year or two ago I decided that although I was making a good living freelance writing, editing a technical journal, writing trade journal articles, writing market research reports... I wanted to focus more on books. I had picked up a ghostwriting (technically it's a collaborating gig, because my name will go on the cover) gig and it paid okay for a first time, but way below what most ghostwriting gigs pay. But I enjoyed doing it most of the time and there's the added bonus of actually having a product you can put on the shelf at the end (something e-books may or may not do away with, we'll see). Also, I've always enjoyed working in the longer form--novels, book-length market research reports, and now nonfiction books.

So, aside from throwing some wishes out to the ether, once I finished the book (which was just recently), I made a point of trying to steer my career in that direction (in addition to writing novels). I sent out introductory emails to some agents that deal in the types of books I have expertise in; I looked through various writing gig boards and responded to some of the ghostwriting gigs (not all; some of them set off my alarm signals); I introduced myself to several companies that hire ghostwriters; I joined a recently started organization, the Association of Ghostwriters, and I had an interesting phone conversation with an agent who often works with ghostwriters.

No gigs yet, but I've had 2 proposals to look at from one of the companies, and hopefully they'll stick with it and I'll stick with it and something will come up this year.

These things take time. I want to change the direction of my writing career and it can be a slow process. But I take it a step at a time and be patient and persist.

Sound familiar? Thoughts?

Oh, by the way. The aircraft carrier in the photograph is the U.S.S. Shangri-La. Its name was a dramatic break from the tradition of naming naval ships after people, battles or cities. Anyway, my father served on the U.S.S. Shangri-La in World War II.


Blogger Kath Calarco said...

There's a sweet paradox in an aircraft carrier named Shangri-La.

Some days I feel more like a mine-sweeper. You know? Cutting through the manuscript and picking up that which destroys the story. But I do take my time for various reasons (one because I'm SLOW). Good things come to those who wait and all that et cetera.

Best wishes on the proposals.

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Eric Mayer said...

My writing career is more like an inflatable rubber duck. However, your plan does sound like a good one and the ghostwriting thing could be interesting.

9:24 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Yeah, I know the leaky inner tube thing fairly well, too.

9:25 AM  
Blogger Linda Pendleton said...

That might be an intereszting direction for your career, Terry. I'm curious...with your expertise in the nonfiction technical area, would the nonfiction book arena be a good place for you? I've always heard there is more of a market for nonfiction--but of course, I would guess it depends on the subject matter.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Mark Terry said...

Sort of seems to be. Even the one ghostwriting project I did for substandard pricing was for more than I've made on any of my novels yet. But platform is an even bigger deal in NF than fiction, which is partly why the ghostwriting. Unless I come up with some narrative fiction thing that really appeals to me. The one agent I spoke with asked me about true crime... something to think about.

11:28 AM  
Blogger sex scenes at starbucks, said...

I'm writing erotica, something I swore I'd never do a few years back. But the sales are so easy and fun and they are actual sales, and people have built careers on less. And there's a freedom there--I can write a story about ANYTHING so long as it centers on a romance. So here I go, working up my 3rd plot. I've never wanted to be a writer who wrote in only one genre anyway.

1:40 PM  

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