Something a commenter wrote on the blog got me to thinking. In a discussion about learning the business of publishing, one reader made the comment, “In many industries, there are apprenticeships where you get paid to learn. That doesn’t happen with writing. You write it – it might take years – and then you try and sell it. Not the other way around.”
And that got me thinking. Why not? Why can’t publishing and writing be an industry of apprenticeships. After all, I have interns who I teach how to write reader’s reports, evaluate manuscripts, and review contracts, and of course they help me by doing things like filing and keeping up on proposal reading. Why couldn’t writers hire interns or apprentices for the very same purposes?
As we’ve all discussed on this blog, there’s a lot more to being published than just writing a book, and I think an apprentice could be very useful in this process for writers. An apprentice could help file, research information for the book, research information for publicity and marketing, handle things like mailings, etc., and yes, an apprentice could also help act as a second reader for the writer and by doing so learn why certain things work or don’t work in a book. Yes, absolutely, you are not going to learn how to write a book by following someone else around, just as you aren’t going to learn how to be an agent by simply watching another agent work. But you will learn a whole heck of a lot about what it takes to be a published author, and isn’t that what an apprenticeship is about?