We might have taken the summer off, but with the start of the fall, it’s time for ORWA to gather once again. We were delighted to break our long summer fast with Tanya Huff, a talented author who has written in multiple genres for the last thirty years.
Tanya spoke to us about the challenges of being a Canadian in a U.S. dominated market and the challenges of writing genre fiction in a country that often seems to prize high-level literary fiction over stories that entertain readers.
Her first piece of advice was “Expect no respect.” Genre fiction may pay the bills for publishing houses, but it is often looked down upon as somehow lesser than literary works.
Her next piece of advice was a reality check on the numbers of the Canadian market. With only a tenth of the population of the United States, even incredibly popular Canadian fiction won’t earn enough to pay the bills unless an author also finds a market south of the border.
Third, she warned us to be prepared to work hard. “I miss the days when all writers did was write.” In today’s market, a writer needs to be prepared to be a promoter, a social media presence, and shrewd market analyst if they want to make the transition to full time author.
But Tanya was clear that these reality checks shouldn’t discourage writers from pursuing their dreams. It may seem frightening to look at all the work that needs to be done, to hear the warning stories about predatory vanity presses or dismissive award panels, but telling stories for a living has always been a dream that required more work than people can imagine. But for those willing to learn from those with experience and the passion and stubbornness to follow their dreams, the dream of seeing their book in a store or a stranger’s hands is one that can come true.
In the end, she offered an unbeatable piece of advice for any aspiring author: “The best way to be a successful writer is to keep writing.” At the end of the day, it is the readers who decide what they want to buy and read and the most important thing for them is that authors continue putting out great books.
Workshop recap provided by Jennifer Carole Lewis