Continuing on from yesterday's article, here are some more perhaps slightly unpalatable truths:
7. Don’t depend on inspiration.
Work regular hours, whether that means writing new chapters or stories or doing the promotional work you need to do to sell your material, and accept that it’s all part of the experience of being a writer.
‘Waiting for inspiration’ would be like a doctor or fire rescue worker only turning up for work ‘when they feel like it’. Treat writing as a job and get on with it.
8. The most common thing writers avoid doing is marketing.
If you’re not spending 30% of your writing time working on marketing, you’re not spending enough time on it.
That might sound crazy, especially if you are not yet at a point where you have a stable writing schedule, but it’s true.
It might also sound awful if you haven’t yet grasped #5 from yesterday's post which pointed out that marketing and storytelling are essentially the same thing. But once you accustom yourself to that concept, marketing becomes an extension of storytelling. It won't feel like you're 'doing something else than writing' - it will be exciting and an extension of what you love to do.
9. Be prepared to apply the information that you learn.
Too many writers spend time learning all about the craft of writing or the principles of marketing and then carry on doing the same as they have always done. Result? Failure.
If you learn a new idea or a useful principle, you have to apply it to see the effects that it can generate. That might sound obvious, but this list is about what I have seen and observed and this is one of those things: some writers seem to digest information and then forget it immediately.
10. Don’t be fooled by certain modern myths.
Modern Myth #1 ‘If I can just get my book onto Amazon, it will sell because Amazon has huge numbers of people looking to buy.’
Believe it or not, the majority of books are still sold offline, in bookshops. Social media and the web should be focused on getting people to become familiar enough with you and your work so that they go and buy your book. Spending 6 months 'getting your website ready’ is a means of procrastination usually born out of anxiety and lack of knowledge. Wasting time on social media will ruin your life if you depend on it long term.
By all means, make an appearance on Amazon. It will do no harm and may get you some sales. But inaccurate expectations lead to disappointment. Amazon is an ocean, and like an ocean is vast and indifferent; what you want is a calm and navigable lake of interest.
By all means, have websites and links so that someone can order your book(s) online. But get out of your head the notion that Amazon is full of people gagging to buy your work. Amazon is full of people looking to buy things that they are interested in. Just like you when you use Amazon, you usually have some idea what you are going to buy before you visit. Your book needs to create interest, develop a relationship, attract attention. Just appearing on Amazon does not guarantee any of those things.
Sales occur when a person reaches a point of commitment to your work sufficient to prompt him or her to reach into his or her wallet. That commitment can be built using particular tools, including what is inside your story, but that commitment usually takes time and isn’t a matter of hitting certain magic numbers.
11. Relationships are the most important thing in marketing.
Wildly successful writers focus on their relationships with their readers.
That means a) relationships forged through communication - which is one definition of ‘marketing’ - and b) relationship forged through the book itself.
The only reason you’re reading this is because you feel you have sufficient good relations with me to listen to what I have to say. It’s the same with your book(s).
12. Too many writers fail to command the basics of professional communication.
Communicate as coherently as you can.
Respond as rapidly as you can.
Show up and deliver work on time.
Be kind to other writers (and people in general).
If you can do those things, you’ll be on your way to success at a faster pace than many of your contemporaries.
These are hard truths, perhaps, but these are based on personal observation and experience.
Make of them what you will.
Learn more from my Marketing Handbook.