Opportunity Comes in Overalls
Many writers panic when they are told they not only need to write, but to create a social media platform as well. Hey, I feel your pain. In fairness, we don’t HAVE to do anything but write the book. But, we do need to ask ourselves if we are doing everything in our power to help our career…and be honest.
Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
The paradigm is shifting in publishing and yes there is a lot of work put on our plate…BUT with this extra work, we will enjoy advantages no other writer in the history of publishing has ever enjoyed. We exercise much more control of our destiny than any writer…EVER.
We can only control two things—product and platform.
Product reigns supreme. I don’t care how many millions you spend launching fish-flavored ice cream with caviar sprinkles, it’s going to flop (no pun intended). We must focus on the product and that our book is something others want to consume.
But, not to be a smarta$$ … we always had control over that.
We always had control over writing a great book and yet 93% of novels sell less than 1000 copies (per BEA statistics). Why? Did 93% of writers write a crappy book? I doubt that. This hellish statistic, I feel, was due to that fact that until very recently fiction writers had little to no control over building a platform. They were throwing a damn good product into the night and hoping to hit something. Only a small percentage could expect to survive and thrive long-term.
For ages writers have griped and complained (justifiably) that they didn’t get enough marketing support. Well, now we have a way to generate word-of-mouth and build a brand for FREE. We have to ability to spread word about us and our books to thousands of people…but it is too hard.
We won’t have time left over to write, we whine.
Yes…yes we will. We just have to make key decisions and some sacrifices. But with a solid plan, hard work and time-management, it is doable.
Anything in life worth having takes hard work. Some people feel that I am on here telling people to blog away their day and ignore the book. I don’t know why anyone would think that since I blog every Monday to help writers with craft. But, hey, misunderstandings happen. When it comes to writing fiction, if I don’t know something or it is beyond my realm of expertise, you can count on me to at least point you guys to books, speakers and workshops to fill in the gaps.
Good writing is essential, but social media is critical as well.
Writing and social media are like…eating healthy and working out put together.
To let you guys in a little into my world.
I had a baby last year. I worked out every day I was pregnant until the very end…and I was 11 days past due. I spent 45 minutes on the elliptical, then went to the hospital to have my son. I had been so good.
Now you guys need to understand a little about Kristen. I was the WORST…the biggest lazy sloth on the planet. The only way you might see me run more than a mile would be if there was a psycho swinging an ax behind me. Even then, after a mile or two I would probably have let said ax murderer just end my suffering. I have always struggled with laziness.
Can’t I just take a nap?
I would start to the gym, go hot and heavy, then get too sore, injured or bored. Then I would give up and eight months later be back at it. When my husband and I found out a baby was on the way, I cleaned up my act. I ate perfectly and exercised every day. I didn’t want to gain a bunch of weight that I wouldn’t be able to get off. Let’s say I was very motivated.
11 days after I had my son I began working out…but I wasn’t as good about watching my diet. Though I worked out all the time my weight dropped at a snail’s pace…if the snail was a heavily sedated snail weighted with barbells.
So I flipped the other direction. I started eating really healthy, but I started putting off working out. Again, my weight dropped at glacial speed. At the rate I was losing weight all my clothes would be long out of style before I could wear them again.
But I had to ask myself the hard questions. Was I comfortable being fluffy for good? I could eat whatever I wanted and work out OR eat healthy and sit on my butt, but then I had to be happy being 30 pounds heavier.
Was I cool with that? Um…no. I am too cheap to give away all my clothes.
I had to deal with BOTH if I wanted back in my old clothes. I had to discipline my diet AND be active. *But it’s not faaaaaiiiiiiirrrr. Why do I have to have a slow metabolism? It’s so haaard. Why can’t I keep up with the Kardashians? Whaaaaaaaa!!!!!* I had to make a choice. Whine about the injustice of it all and waste precious time…or get to work. Be disciplined in BOTH areas.
This approach takes a lot of time. I can’t eat whatever flies my direction. I can’t order Gluten-Free pizza from Palio’s every other night so I don’t have to cook. I have to make lists and shop and cook meals ahead. I had to figure out that my crock pot was good for something other than a place to stash extra napkins. Who knew? But, with planning and a routine, it isn’t nearly as hard as it was in the beginning.
We don’t have to do social media if we write fiction. We don’t even have to blog. We can rely on just the quality of the book.
Yet, if we pair a great book with a great platform, we vastly improve our odds of reaching or exceeding our career goals faster. Just like I could lose weight with only exercise or with only healthy eating…IF I wanted to lose the weight in four years. If I wanted to lose it in 8 months, I had to do both.
Whether it is working out or writing or social media, one of the things I’ve noticed is that all my bad habits bubble to the surface the second I dare to strive for a life of excellence. When I decided to really do this writer thing, I had to face my fear, my insecurity, my ugliness. I had to take a hard look at my character.
I used to be an instant gratification gal. I wanted to write a book, find an agent on the first round and be retired in the French Riviera by the end of the year.
Writing has taught me patience.
When I started my first novel, I thought I knew everything about writing.
Rejection has taught me humility.
When I began blogging I felt very alone.
Followers taught me community.
There are social media people who will sell you 20 Ways to Rule the World and have a Zillion Followers. To me, I think those folk appeal to the people who buy the Shake Weight and the Chocolate Diet.
*Nudges Shake Weight under desk and out of sight.*
There is no magic pill to give us a beautiful body, and there is no social media magic that can make us best-sellers.
But, to dismiss social media is like trying to get in shape without the benefit of a gym. Treadmills, barbells and StairMasters will get you in shape faster. But they require WORK, sacrifice and time management. Blogging will build your name, brand and reputation, but it too requires sweat equity. It will force us to look at our schedule and ask the hard questions.
Do I really not have enough time? Or is that just an excuse?
Today I sent my resignation to my Rotary Club. I have been a Rotarian for almost 7 years. I love Rotary…but I love writing more. It hurts to tell those friends that I won’t be spending every week with them.
As Baby Writers we want the freedom to choose. When we mature, we make choices that bring freedom.
In the beginning of my writing career, I didn’t want to tell anyone “no” and would work myself into the ground to please others. Eventually, though, I had to get to a point that I could make the tough decisions knowing that I would reap benefits later.
No, we can’t go eat pizza with our pals…but we will be able to fit in our clothes and won’t have to take heart medicine.
We can’t shop until we drop…but we will be able to go on nice vacations and retire before we’re 100.
We can’t go to as many movies…but we will have a platform that increases our odds of a successful career.
We have to make a choice; either the freedom to choose or the choices that bring freedom. One is short-term and the other likely won’t see harvest for years to come.
It is hard to do without that $100 a week we put into savings, but trust me that it is far harder to go to work every day at age 70 and try to scrape a living out of a Social Security check.
Hard work dedicated to our books and our platform is an investment. Good investments require sacrifice. It will be worth it, and I am here to support you guys and encourage you every step of the way.
What are some sacrifices you guys have made to become successful in your writing career? What are some things that you think you might be able to give up to free more time? Any suggestions? Advice? Triumphs to inspire us?
I love hearing from you guys, and to prove it and show my love, for the month of March, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. If you leave a comment, and link back to my blog, and mention WANA in your blog…you get your name in the hat THREE times. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly.
I will pick a winner every week for a critique of your first five pages. At the end on March I will pick a winner for the grand prize. A free critique from me on the first 15 pages of your novel. Good luck!
February’s Winners for the Grand Prize
Jesswords10 AND K.B. Owen
I goofed up when mixing all the names in a bowl and some had gotten knocked out when I chose the first name. So we have two winners. E-mail me your first 15 pages when you are ready for critique.
March Week One’s Winner
Send me your first three pages. Readers generally won’t give us more than three. It might not seem like a lot, but we have a lot of competition and need to make a good impression FAST.
Note: I am keeping all the names for a final GRAND, GRAND PRIZE of 30 Pages (To be announced). For now, I will draw weekly for 3 page edit, monthly for 15 page edit.
Until next time…
In the meantime, if you don’t already own a copy, my best-selling book We Are Not Alone–The Writers Guide to Social Media is recommended by literary agents and endorsed by NY Times best-selling authors. My method is free, fast, simple and leaves time to write more books.