Friday, May 23, 2014

I Am Not A Pimp

By Nikki Wilson

I once read a discussion by published authors who made a comparison between writing and selling books to being like pimp. It was a quite humorous discussion and it had me laughing all the way through. There are some similarities. It tends to feel like to make good money publishing you need to turn out book after book and spend some time making them look pretty but not get too attached. After all, if it's not going to make you money you need to be ready  with another one that will.

I was thinking about that comparison this week as the school year came to a close and so did my paychecks for the next couple of months. (I work as a reading tutor at a school.) The week before, we had some unexpected things happen, like a trip to the emergency room and a broken car part. Neither one was anything major and I'm very grateful for that! Though they both cost some money we hadn't planned on. Luckily we have an emergency fund and were able to cover it, but that was supposed to last us through the summer too. So my mind turned to the book I've written and the edits I'm doing. I suddenly wondered if I could make it look pretty enough to sell it. I believe my exact words to my husband were, "I need to quit babying this book and whore it out!" (Yes, I know used the words whore and pimp on a Mormon blog. *GASP* But I promise I have a point.)

It sounded like a good idea at first. I know I treat each book I write like a work of art that shouldn't be touched by anyone and should remain behind glass always (In this case, behind the glass of my computer screen.) If I can't get a book to reach my standards I hide it away for no one to see. This isn't very helpful if I want to eventually make money at writing books. But the idea of becoming a book pimp didn't sit well with me either. I need to find a balance that works for me.

The comparison I thought of was of a mother. I've heard authors talk of their books as their babies. It feels like a pretty apt description to me. But there comes a point when I have stop seeing the book as a baby and let it become an adult. Then I have to let it find it's way in the world but always hope and pray that it will eventually marry. I did have to ask myself if  sending query letters and the like was similar to the marriage marts of the regency era. Was I like a mother that would try to marry her daughter to the man with the most money? Or did I want my daughter to marry for love? Well, in real life and in my writing life the answer has to be love. Yes I want my books to grow up and make a love match (Meaning I want to find a publisher that loves them as much as I do.) Yes, money is the ultimate goal but for me, that can't be my only goal. Money doesn't motivate me enough. I have to do it for the love of writing and in the hopes that others will love it too.

I'm hoping this comparison helps me to see the importance of allowing my book to grow up (get edited) and let it be seen (by agents and editors.) Thanks for bearing with my strange analogies I hope it made sense to someone else besides me!


  1. Well said, like always! You are awesome Nikki

  2. I love this, Nikki! Perfect comparison. (And I'm laughing about the pimps and whore thing. Words have so many delightful connotations!) ;)

  3. As you are called to be a writer, I would say that demands that your work gets to the hands of people who need it "Pimping a book" is just a term someone made up to seem clever.

    Just don't read passages from your work outside of Deseret Book while dressed in a chicken costume as part of your marketing campaign. THAT would be weird. ;)

    Have a great weekend, Nikki!

  4. I so get this. I've struggled with this too. I don't want to write just for money, but the money is a practical motivator and reward. I don't want to compromise my writing either, but at some point, when a publisher wants it...we have to let it go. And they do with it what they will. It IS a bit like releasing our kids. Great piece here, Nikki!



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