When the Name of the Game is Writing Mystery Novels
by Michael Allan Scott
Writing mystery stories as a profession . . . What-the-hell was I thinking? On Amazon.com there are more than 319,000 mystery titles as of this writing. There are nearly 11,000 new mystery novels released in the last 90 days, alone. And while arguably the largest single purveyor of books, Amazon isn’t the only game in town. Holy shit!
It is widely accepted as fact that most authors don’t make a living selling their mystery stories. Hmm . . . And yet, here I am, contributing to a sea of mystery stories that leave fans awash in a plethora of choices.
However, even with what I know now, I don’t look at it that way. It’s more about what I love to do. And I do love being a mystery writer.
In truth I’ve been writing in one form another most of my life. And now at 62 years of age, that’s a fair chunk. I didn’t think about a writing career until I was 12 years old. Headed for the 1964 Boy Scout Jamboree, I was recruited by our Scout Master to write for the local newspaper as Troop 28’s official “news reporter.” I wasn’t sure what was involved, but it didn’t sound all that tough. And in the summer of 1963, my real motivation for taking the gig was the opportunity to meet the President, John F. Kennedy. Only the troop reporters would have access to the President for interview purposes. John F. Kennedy—I was thrilled at the prospect.
As history would have it, President Kennedy was assassinated later that fall. Like most of the country, I was crushed. And on a summer afternoon in 1964, sweating like a schoolgirl on prom night in Valley Forge’s heat and humidity, I met President Lyndon B. Johnson instead—a big disappointment.
After my short stint as a Scout reporter, the writing career was shoved to the back of the bus. Over the years I’ve written sporadically, largely for my own entertainment, always with the dream of getting published. I’ve submitted works of fiction to countless publishing houses and have the rejection letters to prove it.
The publishing industry is changing faster than Clark Kent in a phone booth. And while this creates tremendous opportunity, it is also fraught with challenges. Assuming for a moment that I can write entertaining mystery stories, how am I to propel my work out of obscurity and into the shining light of acceptance given the vastness of an ever increasing marketplace? Yes, well . . . that would be the “fraught with challenges” part.
The Other Side
Whether a murder mystery writer or a children’s book illustrator, if you’re new to the publishing industry you quickly discover it takes more than artistic talent. It requires you to take care of business—all of it, since you are in business for yourself. And “all of it” means every aspect of business. Not only the production of saleable mystery books, but the organization, marketing and accounting duties, as well.
Used to be us budding mystery writers could sit around and mope about how “it isn’t fair” that the big guys get all the breaks. That we’re simply misunderstood—our brilliant works of art, over the heads of blood-sucking literary agents and money-grubbing publishers. But no more. We are out of excuses. It’s up to us, whether we like it or not.
I’m often disappointed at how many talented writers shy away from the business aspects of our industry. These days, it’s difficult to make it on content, alone. You’ve got to roll up your sleeves and get into it—the dirty work-a-day world of commerce.
Yet, for many writing entrepreneurs, this is a welcome opportunity—taking the bull by the horns, staring him down, forcing him to his knees—running a successful business operation.
At the End of the Day
Gotta tell ya, I’m a hands-on kinda guy. And while, like any business, it has its setbacks and frustrations, I love it. Writing mystery stories, it’s the entertainment business—the name of the game. Count me in.
A new era of digital publishing . . . In my estimation, it’ll be a Golden Age for writers and readers, alike.
More about me and my murder mystery novels can be found at http://michaelallanscott.com/
Creative Commons Attribution: Permission is granted to repost this article in its entirety with credit to Michael Allan Scott and a clickable link back to this page.
Site address: http://michaelallanscott.com/
Date: December 24, 2012
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Genre – Mystery & Thrillers
Rating – R
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