3 THINGS I'VE LEARNT ABOUT BEING AN AUTHOR IN NYC
Since making the move from Dubai to the bustling streets of New York City last year (August 2022), my writing output might not have skyrocketed, but my understanding of the world of authors and publishing has grown immensely.
As a full-time writer, moving to New York has been a great way for me to take my writing career to the next level. It's certainly been the right thing to do although daily life isn't without it's challenges - a good writer is ten a penny in New York but nothing that happy hour in the West Village can't solve! And let's not forget the New York Times best-seller list (fun fact: Stephen King has had over 30 books land on that list!) which is the dream of any writer.
In this blog post, I'm excited to share some of the most important things I've learnt in my first year about pursuing a writing career in my new city regarded as the pinnacle for any wordsmith.
1. Professionalism of the Craft
In the global context, writing is sometimes seen as a mere hobby or a sideline endeavor. However, New York City, a place teeming with ambition and driven individuals, takes the profession of being an author with utmost seriousness. In fact, New Yorkers are some of the most ambitious people I've ever met.
With its historical roots dating back to Paternoster’s Row in the early twentieth century and its current status as the home of the prestigious "Big Five" book publishers, NYC is undeniably the epicenter of American publishing.
The city's creative economy, as revealed in a 2022 economic study, underscores the gravity of this profession, supporting nearly 95,000 jobs, boasting $11 billion in wages, and contributing a staggering $34 billion to the total economic output.
It's a good thing too, because being at the heart of publishing is a constant source of inspiration. Simply passing the offices of Penguin Random House on Broadway on my daily walk just puts an added spring in my step and offers a little help in getting started on my writing project for the day.
2. Fierce Competition
My transition from the relatively smaller literary scene in Dubai to the vast sea of writers in New York was eye-opening. Stepping into any Barnes & Noble here can overwhelm you with the sheer number of good books.
Writers in this city are as abundant as skyscrapers, and navigating the crowded market can be an arduous task. In fact, many of the successful writers I've met have been writing a long time.
As an author, this environment places immense pressure on you to craft a book premise that stands out - not an easy feat at the best of times. However, the silver lining is the immense potential of the U.S. market, which reported a staggering $26.8 billion in sales revenue, dwarfing even major markets like the UK at $5.4 billion. This contrast emphasizes the immense opportunities available to authors willing to embrace the challenge.
3. Thriving Writing Communities
Regardless of your genre, writing style, working preferences, or personal circumstances, New York City offers a thriving writing community tailor-made for you. In fact, I would say it starts at high school - if not elementary school - there is a huge focus on the written word with schools offering students all types of literary events and opportunities.
The joy of finding a group of authors who also navigate the world of parenting was a brilliant discovery for me. From Paragraph to Pen Parentis and the New York City Writing Group, there's a multitude of options to connect with fellow writers. The best way to find your tribe is to google and experiment to see what works for you. I should also add that the reading scene is also huge here as well. I've often started a conversation with someone on the subway who may be reading my favorite book and the quality of the NYC public libraries is incredible with every available resource, event, practical guide, and more available to every type of person.
Additionally, the city hosts numerous conferences, writing classes, summer programes, and book festivals throughout the year, each offering valuable networking opportunities and learning experiences. My first time at a literary event in NYC was my recent attendance at ThrillerFest in 2023 was my initiation into New York's literary scene, and while it came with a price tag, the wealth of information and the caliber of authors I encountered made it a priceless investment in my writing journey. However, one of the most rewarding things for me as writer was meeting some of the best writers (hello, Jeffrey Deaver!) and discovering new ones.
New York is not cheap and writing is not the most lucrative of careers but the way of life here makes being a writer in NYC one of the best things I've ever experienced. All I need now is a little good luck, a little time, and hopefully soon I'll see my name in bright lights in Times Square :)
Stay connected with me on Instagram as I share more about my experiences as an author in New York.
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