Saturday, November 7, 2009

Selling Yourself

By Keith Fisher

I started a new book this morning. Since I’ve been bogged down with rewrites lately, it felt great to focus on different characters for a while.

As a wannabe published author of novels, I want my book to be perfect, and I keep finding plot holes. As I fix one problem, another manifests its ugly head. Most of my time is spent agonizing over how to fix it. In a book with several characters and plot lines, it means going back and changing every thread. Needless to say, I’ve been getting discouraged.

So, It was refreshing to start something new. Most of my friends have been bragging about their experience with NaNoWriMo this year, making me jealous. It’s like being a recovering alcoholic surrounded by people talking about a drinking binge. I love the feeling of getting lost in artistic expression.

Ali Cross told me she periodically drifts back and forth to her different projects. When one gets stale, she works on another for a while. I told her it’s a great idea, and it’s a method I used to employ. With all the projects on my hard drive, I should never get bogged down or discouraged, right? Well, I can think of a few reasons, but those thoughts serve as examples of things to avoid.

There is a lot to be said for focus. Many writers need to concentrate on one thing at a time in order to accomplish the task. Most of us wish for the days, not too long ago, when a writer worked in seclusion, perfecting a masterpiece. In those days writers wrote, agents sold, publishers promoted.

While attending my first writer’s conference, The stark reality of what it means to be a writer today, forcefully hit me. I’ve worked in sales many times in my life, and it’s not one of my favorite things to do. Self-promotion has always seemed prideful, like loud arrogant people.

In the publishing world today, things have changed. Writers write, sell, and promote their books. Some publishers have adopted cost-cutting policies that sound like subsidization. Because of the competitive nature of the business, writers are expected to rise to a level of perfection never achieved in earlier generations. To use a cliché, the bar has been raised.

Now I admit, writers need to be committed, and take a pro-active part in promoting their book. It is, after all, their baby. So, when your project gets stale, and you need a break, start promoting yourself.

There are myriad ways to promote your self, both active and benign. I learned a lesson while attending the book launch party for Am I Not A Man written by Mark L Shurtleff. Because I know his editor, I know being Attorney General for the State of Utah didn’t get him published. I’m sure it will help sell a few copies of the book, however.

Now, I know. I know you were also taught to be humble, and we all can’t run for office, but do you like making friends? There’s a difference between a network of business contacts, and a network of good friends who happen to be in publishing.

Go out of your way and attend book launch parties. Go to book signings, and writer’s conferences. I met a publishing executive at a workshop recently. I think we became friends. Our friendship probably won’t result in a book contact, but I made a friend.

The important thing to remember is motive. I’m sure you would be more willing to help a genuine friend, before helping the phony who gives you lip service. Be willing to provide sincere help to your friends and they will help you in return. I hope to sell several copies of my book because people know me, and I am their friend. The rest of them will sell, because the story is well written.

Good luck with your writing—see you next week.


Carolyn V. said...

Great post. Networking is something I need to do more of and making more awesome writing friends. They really do help when times get tough.

Cassandra Jade said...

A great post and fantastic advice for all of us wanting to not only be published writers but to also sell some of our work. Thanks for the great advice.

L.T. Elliot said...

I'd support you as a friend. I'd buy your book because your talent is incredible. I sincerely can't wait for the day when your words are on a printed page, mine to cherish always.