I’ve had all kinds of strategies in mind for how to make it as a writer, based on stuff I’ve been told to do by other writers, marketers, agents. You have to have a web presence, they say. You have to build a blog following. You have to make a name for yourself as a writer or you won’t sell. This has been my goal since I first started writing: get my novels published and read.
I’ve done a lot of things that feel very “writerly” to me, things that are meant to help my writing career. Here are some examples.
Blogging: like this one. Also livejournal (which I just deleted), and to some extent my chicken comic was meant to increase my web presence. Increased web presence leads to increased name recognition leads to increased readership, the common wisdom goes. I’m not sure how true that is. I still write on this blog, because this blog is mostly about books, and I like books, and people who like books should come here and read my stuff. So that makes kind of sense. But I’d rather talk about other people’s books than my own. I want you guys to talk about my books, after you read them.
Tweeting and facebooking: Similar to blogging. You have to know how to use social media, they say, they mostly being people who just found out about twitter last week. I still tweet, but I’m not frenetic about it. And I still post on facebook, but not to increase my social network platform, just to say something witty or tell people about my blog.
Writing and submitting short stories: As silly as it is, I once had the follwing train of thought–I need an agent. To find out who I should have as an agent, I should find out who the agents are of people who write like me. This is not public knowledge, but if you’re a member of SFWA, you can get this information. You can’t be a member of SFWA without sufficient publications. It’s easier to get short stories published than novels. I’ll learn to write short stories so I can get enough publications so I can become a SFWA member so I can find out which agents I need to submit to so I can get an agent so I can sell my novels.
Silly, I know, but it’s better to have a silly plan than no plan at all. And it wasn’t completely useless. By learning to write short stories, I got into Clarion, which was an amazing and wonderful experience that I never regret. I also got into some nice anthologies, which is a good experience, and I met some really cool editors. But there isn’t as much of a connection between people who read short stories and people who publish novels as I would like. I no longer believe that even writing a brilliant, award-winning short story will help me sell novels.
Going to conventions: Okay, I’m still going to do this. I don’t really think it’s all that helpful to my goal in bold up there, but they’re fun and I meet cool people and I get to travel.
Marketing myself: By this I mean handing out merch and promoting myself, shilling the Kater Cheek name like a hungry and crass real estate agent. Okay, so I have a signature on my email that tells people about my blog. And I have some business cards with my book cover on it that I hand out. But I’m not going to invest thousands of dollars in fliers and what not to give to people, like strip club ads at Vegas. I just don’t believe it will be fruitful. Also, yuck.
I have given up this stuff for two main reasons. One, I don’t have time anymore now that I’m working full-time instead of being a homemaker. Two, I’m not sure it works.
So here’s what I’m doing instead. Are you listening?
Writing the next book.
Yeah. That’s pretty much it. Writing, and of course reading (and listening to) books, because I can’t not read books. I’m working just about every day on the next book in the Seabingen series. When I’m done with that, I’m going to get the fifth book polished up, which may or may not require a complete rewrite (I hope not) and then I’ll do the same for the other books in the series. I plan to have at minimum, a book a year published, and I’m going to shoot for one every six months until they’re all out there. I want people to read my books. I want people to enjoy my books. I want people to love them as much as I do. I want to be so popular that hipsters make fun of people who like my stuff, until the backlash comes and they get to enjoy my books ironically.
I’m making good progress on the novel. (Working title: Faerie Killer). I’m about 70,000 words into it, and I think it will be 80,000-90,000 when it’s done, so I estimate that it will be ready to go by May. I work on it just about every day, even if I only have a few minutes, and I work on it for several hours on the weekends. I had to pare down, you see, when I realized I no longer had time to fritter away. I had to do what was the most important. Writing the next book.
And to be honest, all that other stuff is boring.