Sunday, October 23, 2005

Breaking In

Today our church held their annual "Fall Festival" (I wonder if they are aware of the pagan associations with that? Probably not...), so we kept the baby up past her naptime in order to go participate in the fun and games. It was a good time, overall. Music was provided by a pair of sisters from the church who are trying to break into the music business as singer/songwriters. They're actually quite good, but even so, the odds of their making it are very, very small. They had made a CD with some of their songs and were selling it at the festival (with part of the proceeds going back to the church). Self-promoting is not only a good idea for budding musicians, it's also one of the only ways that you'll ever get noticed by the big shots who run the record labels.

I was struck by how alike and yet unlike ths is to writing. Like music, it's a very competitve business and the odds of really making it big, aren't very good. Self-promotion -- CD's for them, readings and book signings for us -- is essential to both of us, since that's the only way to get that crucial word-of-mouth advertising. But that's about where the similarity ends. You see, the big difference between the music and publishing industries is that the publishing industry is actively looking for good, new writers. Not so with the music industry. You could be quite good and still not manage a yawn from the record producers. That's a huge distinction. That openness in publishing means that we've got a chance to make it, if only we perfect our craft. It's all in our court. In music ... well, in music you've got to count on hard work and talent, but also luck and getting noticed by the right people. Your chances of breaking out are just not that good.

I've got a lot of respect for these girls, and I wish them the best of luck. But I don't envy them the road they are going to have to travel. Even though we complain about it sometimes, it really makes me appreciate the path we as writers have to trod.

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