Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Doing the Same Thing

I keep a notebook of ideas for writing, promotions, marketing, website development: all the efforts writers are now expected to be able to do to further their careers.

Last week, I told my "business manager" I wanted to make more money. The response: "Market better."

Of course, I made a note of that...in my good ideas for marketing notebook.

If it is true that the definition of madness is "doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result," I'm there. I have books and workshop notes, leaflets, pamphlets, bookmarked websites and follow marketing-writers' blogs.

There is a wealth of information, everywhere you look. And for a writer who used to be a "marketing professional," one might assume I knew what I was doing.

Not so. Self-promotion is no cakewalk in the park with a fashion icon. Self-promotion is more like staring at a mirror-image of a sleepless night after all three children have destroyed the living room furniture with permanent felt pens and explaining to their teacher why the youngest has multi-hued spots all over his face when all you want to do is curl up with a good idea, a few well-defined characters and the perfect setting.

Once upon a time, writers wrote books, sent them to publishers and rested on their laurels...or did they? The facts tell a different story. When I worked for a women's publishing cooperative, Honno.co.uk, the board members took on some of the responsibility for marketing the books we published but the onus was on the author to generate sales. This is not different from the traditional (legacy) publishers.

Although there may be an advance, promotion falls to the author unless the author is already so well-known the advent of a new book is enough to generate sales. Most of us do not earn out our advances, if we received them, and if that happens more often than not, the author will have difficulty finding another publisher.

But, help abounds! Take for instance, exactly what we do here at Classic and Cozy Books and several other author group blogs such as Avalon Authors (which came to an end when Avalon Books was bought by Amazon Montlake), Four Foxes One Hound, and any number of other opportunities that suggest writing articles, interviewing other authors, presenting workshops and networking.

I have recently joined the Indie Publishing Group hosted by the Mechanics Institute in San Francisco. In a month, I will be giving a brief presentation about the ubiquitous 'Social Media' that many of us are spending so much of our writing time to pursue and conquer. In the previous century (I can say that now), authors were represented by agents, supported by editors and entertained by publishers. Now, we are in the position of doing much of this for ourselves.

And we are having a great time discovering all the fun we've been missing, as well as how amazingly capable we are, and how much work is involved beyond the wordcraft. Estimates are that most writers now spend at least 70% of their 'writing' time promoting their work, even those who enjoy the benefits of legacy publishing, which includes blogging, tweeting,  instagraming, pininteresting, tumblring, redditing, wattpading, as well as formatting, designing, proofreading or hiring someone to do all this while we strive to make a living and pay the rent.

I love my work!


  1. Leigh, your post hit home for many of us. Authors now have to wear so many hats that it is hard to find the time or the energy to write something new. But, I'm like you, I love my work and will continue to write and to try to keep up with all the other "extras" that go along with it. Good luck to you.

    1. One attribute that is common to most of us is the passion for learning - and that is a really really good thing! Thanks, Fran.

  2. Hi Leigh--
    Is it really 70% now? Oh, that is so discouraging. I can say that I do enjoy Pinterest, Twitter, and Facebook, but I'm amazed that it seems to be taking more of my writing time. This new job description for writers doesn't appear to be going away any time soon. But I think you're right, maybe it isn't so new for writers.

    1. The positive takeaway is to know how very capable we writers are! Our communication/creative skills abound!

  3. It sounds like you're at least one step ahead of a lot of us. I know about Facebook and blog on this site and another, but there is still much of social media beyond me.