This is the mantra of the modern-day writer: "Write. Publish. Market." Wash, rinse, repeat. You can't do one and not the others and expect your book to succeed. As sad as this may be. So, here's a little of what I have to say about each of these steps and my journey down the write, publish, market road.
#1 - Write.
Yeah, pretty obvious, huh? However, you'd be surprised how many young writers I talk to who complain that they're struggling to get their book or WIP finished. When asked how many hours a day they write, their response is something like "I have to write every day?" or "I can't find the time to write." Well, you don't have to write every day necessarily, but if you want to publish a book, story, poem, song, script, etc., you're going to have to write the thing first.
My best advice on this one - create rituals, find support, and hopefully you already have a passion for your project (if not, hmmm, maybe writing isn't really where you want to be and what you want to be doing). That was the worst sentence construction ever, but I think my point has been made.
As for rituals, I have an awesome desk that faces Mother Nature and is decked out with my vintage Smith & Corona typewriter, a stack of craft books, and a mason jar full of red pens. I do my best writing in the morning, and knowing this about myself, I tend to do creative writing before 11 a.m. then business work after lunch. This doesn't work every day but as many as I can structure this way, I do. My only other ritual is taking the dogs for a walk in the woods before I sit down to write - gets my creative juices flowing and wears them out so they go take a nap and leave me alone.
On the support front, I'm part of two writing groups currently and am planning to join two more before the end of the year. One current group is more about educational classes, honing my craft, and learning the business of writing. The other is about networking, having people beta read/critique my work, and accountability - you better have something written and semi-polished for the guild meeting on Saturday?!? In addition, my husband, daughter, and other family members are uber-supportive. They keep my chin up.
Lastly, passion. This one I can't give you, teach you, or tell you where to buy. This one, you have to have or you don't. Kind of like the spark casting directors say actors have or they don't. That "it" factor. My suggestion: if you don't get excited about writing (in general, even some writing projects suck), then you might be a painter, musician, or computer software engineer. Who knows?!? Good luck.
#2 - Publish.
There are so many options for publishing these days but the main three are: Traditional, Small Press, and Self (or Indie). These can get a bit fuzzy, they aren't set in stone and the tides of writing are a'changin'.
But the basic gist is this...
Option 1: You hunt for an agent who will pitch your manuscript to the Big 5 or 6 publishers (yep, can't get in without an agent these days) - not a bad way to go but has some pretty steep hurdles and will take on average two to five years to accomplish.
Option 2: Pitch your work to smaller presses-there are a ton of them out there these days. But do your homework first to find one that's a good fit for you and your work. You'll also want to make sure to have someone look over the contracts with you to make sure that the deal is fair and on the up-and-up. What, they didn't have you sign a contract? (Shaking my head. Enough said.) I work with a small press and love it. I think what the press offers is better than having to publish my book myself but not as snazzy as being picked up by a bigger outfit in NY.
Option 3: Self-publish. With the tools at our fingertips these days with Createspace, other publishing outfits, freelance cover designers, independent formatters, editors galore on the internet, e-book setups, and so on and so forth, publishing on your own is getting easier every day. Will your book make it to the shelves of Barnes and Nobles or Times Best Seller List and sell millions of copies in the first year, probably not (unless you're Andy Weir). But will it be on Amazon, have a chance at a spot in local bookstores, and be available faster than the two to five year window I mentioned earlier, yes.
That's it, my blog-worthy two-cents about publishing.
This is the toughest part of the deal for most writers I meet. Why? Well, first off, regardless of which publishing avenue you choose, you're going to do, at least, some of it yourself. And secondly, there are lots of theories why writers struggle with the marketing game. They range from "most writers are introverts and marketing takes putting yourself out there, in person, in a big way" to "technology is changing so fast, I can't keep up-just when I learn how to update my website, the template changes." The obvious answer, for those of use who are tech-challenged or are not people-people, is to hire a staff or assistant to do those things. Which is an option that's getting cheaper and more accessible by the day. However, if you can't afford that option, you're just going to have to suck it up buttercup and get to work.
An author platform or branding yourself is the place to start. Followed by kick-butt pics, excerpts, memes, reviews, etc., about your book. Then I say have fun with it. Selling your books at book festivals and conferences, doing readings/signings at appropriate places, having a website, writing a blog, putting out a newsletter, producing a podcast or being a guest on a podcast, offering giveaways, and doing the social media dance are all options. Are you exhausted? Me too. But, I'm also exhilarated! Why?
Because I want to connect with people via my words on a page. (Corny but true.)
So, that's it. In 1200 words or less, I have summed up my writing battle plan in a nutshell. I hope this article gives you a sense that you're not alone, you can do this, and we have to learn to eat the encyclopedia one bite at a time. And wash it down with a big, old glass of "I can do this!"
Thanks for reading these Balcony Blog posts! Until next time, keep reading and keep feeling!
For more about T. Haven Morse and her book, "Flooded By: A Persona Poetry Collection", visit the "Our Writers" link on the Bountiful Balcony Books website or click here. To sign up for the Bountiful Balcony Buzz e-newsletter, visit the contact us page on our website or click here, and tell us you'd like to be added to the mailing list. You can also find Bountiful Balcony Books and T. Haven Morse on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.