If you treat something like it’s a hobby then that’s all it will be, there is no need to succeed at a hobby. If you want to treat your writing as a hobby, something you do for your own personal enjoyment that’s one thing but if you want to make money, write for a living then you have to treat it as a job you are applying for and the reader your interviewer who says whether you get the job. That seems to be hard for a lot more writers I have encountered than I would have thought, to understand and I’m not sure why. Okay, so the majority of books that have been self published are by people who have always enjoyed writing and hopefully are long time readers. I wrote for years, I have more than sixteen ‘short’ stories I have moved from state to state, apartment to apartment because I’m not quite willing to let them go and they’re short because I never finished them. They were ideas that came in and bugged me, I started to write and then I would lose the thread of the story and poof it was gone. I didn’t write thinking, I’m going to finish this and send it off for an agent or to a publisher, I wrote because I wanted to and yes I needed to. So as I’m trying to figure out why there are still so many people questioning how to do it, how to succeed at writing for a living I’m trying to be kind and thinking hey maybe they just finally finished what has been nagging them and are gung ho about it.
But here’s the thing, that’s no excuse.
When you go for a job interview there are things you do to prepare. You dress nicely in a suit-best book cover you can afford, you complete and print out your resume (even though they have it in front of them) it’s on the best paper you can afford-you have edited your work backwards and forwards, and most importantly you research AT LEAST the basics of the company you are applying at-you research the basics of what the hell you are doing-which is selling a book. It’s not that hard but it will take some time and study, depending on how far and serious you are about it. You want to play an instrument, you don’t just pick it up and expect to be able to play at symphony level. You want to be a boxer you don’t just buy some shiny shorts and step into the ring. What kills me is there are so many, to be honest, almost too many, how to books to self publish, some say the same things, others are very different. There are so many blogs it’s almost overwhelming, again that’s no excuse. You pick something you want to know about, let’s say book covers you research the shit out of that (I’m not exaggerating in any way shape or form but it took me over three months of constant web crawling to find my cover artist, I couldn’t be happier) will my cover artist do a sci-fi cover well? I don’t know, I was looking for a romance cover artist, I saw what she had done and I liked it. Pricing, do the damn research, again what works for romance even versus erotica isn’t the same thing, I have spent again months, about six months going through Amazon reading review after review, reading bad book after bad book (some were good) to find out what the people reading that genre wanted because I previously read romance, not erotic romance and there is a BIG difference. I highly recommend reading the reviewers, you can’t walk up to someone and ask them what they want in a book but the reviews can give you that, what the reader likes, hates (erotic romances that are too short seems to be a HUGE issue), wants more of in a story. By giving the reader what they want it helps with one of the hardest issue out there for a writer, price, yes price. Length and covers (don’t ever forget the covers) do come up to on reviews and there is a huge difference from erotic romance, to romance, to even erotica. (Too long and varied to go into on this post). So by giving the reader what they want and are looking for and what they are willing to pay for it, it helps me know I’m giving them what they want.
You show up at a job interview for IBM in ripped jeans and a tee shirt without your resume and you don’t know how long IBM has been around-1911, what IBM stands for- International Business Machines, where they are headquartered-Armonk, NY you aren’t getting the job. I’m not saying self publishing is easy, I’m not saying you learn how to do it overnight, it is not a one size fits all, hell there isn’t a one genre fits all, what works for sci-fi, doesn’t work for romance, might not work for mystery/thriller. I am not in any way shape or form putting myself as an expert, but I have read two very well done books and three blogs going back over two years, the blogs were the hardest but I settled in for a weekend and I read them and I even took notes (yes, I am a nerd). I did all of that and the first book I self published still sits on the dustiest shelf of Amazon and there are things I know I did right and looking back things I know I did wrong. That’s why I am trying so hard on this next at bat. I want and need to hit a home run, will I? Hell, I don’t know but I sure as hell am not going to be able to say I didn’t try.
Don’t half ass it, it shows when you do and you won’t get the job.