Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Why Being a Writer is a Lot Like Being a Girl Who Has No Name

The Comparison Between the Independent Writer and the Assassin

Many people will recognize the reference of “a girl has no name” from the hit TV series A Game of Thrones. Arya Stark may just be the heir to the throne, but she’s on the run from people who wish her dead. She regularly recites her death prayer every night—people that she’s going to kill. She’s taken up with a mysterious society in the House of Black and White. It soon becomes apparent that this is a society of assassins, which may just be the perfect place for Arya to receive further martial arts training. But first, she must lose her identity, and become “a girl has no name”. 

In many instances, being an independent writer is a also a lot like being a girl who has no name. 

People will hire you so they can put their name on your work. In other words, they don’t want to get their hands dirty. But remember it’s only called ghostwriting when they stick their name on your article or short story. When you write copy for a website or Amazon product, that’s not ghostwriting at all, because there is no author’s name attached. Just like Arya, I receive no recognition for a greater portion of my work. 

People will hire you to do crazy things. This is much like the assassin is hired. When you’re a writer, you’ll often be asked to do crazy things. I’ve actually dressed up as a zombie to do a promo video, and I’ve dressed up in steampunk gear to recite some poems that I wrote. So yes, sometimes it can be fun when I get to combine my writing with my performance art, but some outsiders may view these small jobs as weird.

The more money you are paid, the less people will complain. No one will ever complain if they pay the assasin the big bucks. I once wrote a short locksmith in NYC article for $5, and the buyer wanted me to make endless revisions. I asked him to be more specific, but he never was. I ended up processing a refund for him, saying I could sell it to someone else. I did. I sold it to his competition for $100. 

You’ll receive some interesting offers. I had an offer of marriage on my zombie video gig. It was from some guy in the USA—I would have expected that more from Japan. I think he was 1/3 of my age too. I imagine the female assassin attracts her fair share of admirers too.

People waste money on me.  If you want someone dead, you're willing to pay any price. I don’t know how many times I’ve written articles and the buyer has never posted them on their website. I repeatedly check back even a year later, and nope, it’s not there. Yet they never asked for revisions, and they gave me a five star review. For these people, money is no object. 

If you sell it, they will come. The assassin is there to provide a service, and so is the writer.  People will often order a short story from me about how they wish to place their friends in a precarious situation. These stories are meant to be used as gifts. There is definitely an untapped market here! 

You'll have to create your own recognition. Some buyers will allow me to use my own name on articles and short stories. Besides the ghostwritten orders, of which most of my work is comprised, I do have a surprising number of clients that allow me to put my name on my work for their website. All it takes is asking. This is where the conflict is with Arya: she kills people and the House of Black and White know she has done it. Remember, she is supposed to be anonymous when she kills. If she wants recognition, she has to do it herself.

The cash can vary. I’ll make more money on a short story than if I sold it to an anthology or magazine. In many cases, my clients will be adding their own names to my short stories and then attempting to resell it. In other instances, they’re using it for promo purposes, or they will self-publish it. In most cases, I’ll make way more money than if I sold it to an anthology or magazine. I rarely submit to those spots anymore. Arya chooses her battles well, disregarding those that hold no purpose. 

You'll get to do a wide range of work. Besides doing the zombie and steampunk videos, I have also written landing pages, blogs, sales copy, Amazon product descriptions, website product descriptions, and articles. The fun things I’ve done have included writing short stories for games developers, boardgames and app developers. I’ve also written scripts for videos. I’ve even written posts for Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, and posted to business social media sites on a regular basis. I’ve also edited, proofread, formatted, and done the graphic design for printed novels and e-books. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are a few more gigs that I try during the upcoming months. Arya bounces around from place to place for when she is needed.

The goal of the girl who has no name is to eventually take back her name, so that she can truly gain the identity that she was born for. Until then, we'll just take the cash.