How do we say “no” when so many distractions keep us from doing the one thing we are supposed to do: write?
In the 21st century, we must multi-task, do all our own promo, take on any speaking event or organizational job, and try to give our all to family and day job as well. This is also the era in which everything is dumped on the cheaper employee, whether or not that makes sense, and most writers are the cheapest in the hierarchy of the publishing world. So we must figure out ourselves how to become a strong brand, do bookmark designs, web creation, get events at bookstores or decide on blog tours or how many guest blogs to do, and how to deal with Facebook, Twitter, and things someone still has to explain to me. In short, we are obliged to do everything to promote a product we don’t have time to create or even do well.
OK, I am gray-haired, beyond my passionate career days, and grumpy. But I do recall that I tried most of this once and at the same time. What I learned, and is supported by research, is that multi-tasking is inefficient. We do not do any one thing well. Corporate hasn’t learned this yet, but writers should.
So what do writers cut? Family is unlikely. Day jobs pay mortgages, feed the teenager, provide money for retirement (and that voracious teen’s college), help the aging parents, and other stuff. That leaves writing. Forget it or follow the passion?
Writing is a jealous craft. If we fail to honor it first, it will fail us, although Elizabeth Gaskell did work at a stand-up desk with her many children playing around her feet. The usual answer is "focus”. That is true, but the basic problem remains. If you are doing everything, you are doing little of it well. The focal point of a writer must be writing. All the promo in the world will fail if the book is slop. If you doubt this, ask yourself how long you would buy a poor quality product even if it had great commercials.
So what’s a struggling brand to do?
I am not a best-selling author so feel free to ignore the rest of this.
Each author is unique. Some tasks are easy for you; others not. Dump and delegate. The price of a web designer is worth the extra time spent polishing a chapter. If you hate public speaking, try panels. If you can only write one blog a month, don’t do more, and please do not repeat the same blog over and over. Readers notice and don’t like it. Don’t twitter if you have nothing to say. Use all time saved on your book.
Will it take longer to get an audience this way? Maybe, maybe not, but the quality of your writing will hold the fans you gain and they will bring others to your work. Writing is not an assembly line product. Like a young child, it demands total devotion and patience. As for readers, we’ll find you. There are many of us out there, longing for well-crafted books.