Dearly Beloved Readers who are also Writers,
Lots of authors seem to be passing on words of wisdom about how to write a good story, edit it, and sell it. In other words, holding out the faint but oh so enticing hope that YOU, yes, YOU could be the next J.K. if only you follow the advice. I thought I might as well add my two penn’orth.
You might have noticed that I have written quite a lot, and I continue to write, every day, poems and pieces of prose, as well as working on one or other of my umpteen WIP. The general opinion is that I write well. Not genius stuff, but solid stuff that gets good reviews. The other thing you probably haven’t noticed, because we tend not to notice what’s not there, is that I don’t promote except to announce a new release or free story, excerpt or poem drawn from the book.
The word of advice is simple—if you want to be successful, stop wasting your time writing and get on with promoting yourself. It’s incredibly difficult to get an agent if you haven’t written exactly what they happen to be looking for this week, and it’s incredibly easy to get a small publisher who will publish your work, drop it into the arena of the internet, and quietly back away from it.
But there’s still self-publishing, the great democratizer, that gives us all a stab at being famous. Just bear in mind that if you want to rise from the mud at the bottom of the seabed, you have to market as well as promote. You have to create a web presence and a public persona that readers can pretend they know. You have to get reviews from the places that will accept self-published books, which means none of the big magazines or literary reviews. You have to spend money on buying advertising, organizing promotions, attending cons and book signings (if a book store will have you and you buy a big stack of your own books to sell), and you have to toil for weeks knitting effigies of your mcs or sewing scapulars with their toenail clippings to give away as prizes.
Who has all this time? Do some people get more than the regulation 24 hours in the day? Do they employ servants? Whatever their dark secret, some people manage to do all of this and hold down a day job too.
Anyway, the advice is there. Don’t write, sell. It’s given freely from someone who hasn’t been able to crack it, but at least knows that she’s doing it all wrong. Like me, you might decide to throw common sense to the winds and just keep on writing. Good luck, whichever path you take.