Monday, March 15, 2010

Writing Career Treatment

Welcome back to the Author Emergency Room.

This post is a follow up to my Expectation Triage post last week (Expectation Triage).

Once you have identified the problem and are resolved to treating, healing, and succeeding in spite of it, you are ready for treatment.

Let's look at this from a writer's standpoint.

I meet people EVERY DAY outside of work who have a story to tell, a book to write. My advice always is to put pen to paper.

They respond with, "Oh, I will someday when I have the time."

Well, you make time for what is important to you. If writing is important, you will give it the time it needs....or you are a writer in hiding (remember that story about Jonah and the whale??).

Let's say you've written the great american novel or the last self-help book anyone will ever need. A publisher accepts it. It's gone through editing and layout, and you have the finished copy in your hands.

At this point, I often hear, "I really don't care about the sales, I just want to help change people's lives." Or I hear, "Get yourself ready for this ride! We'll be on Oprah and the NYT bestseller list, and be sure to send Obama a copy!"

[insert wry smile and a funny shake of the head from me]

Sure! I'd love to see you there. But we have to "put pen to paper", so to speak, and build the career of the book and author.

"Oh, but that's what you are here for," they say.

Yes, it is the responsibility of your marketing team to help you find and even create opportunities. But much like your editor, we can only advise you. This is not our work, and no matter how much we work on it, our names will never be on the cover.

The author's is, though. And the author is the one that readers, booksellers, organizations, businesses, venues, reviewers, etc. need to see. In a society that has become so overloaded that everything boils down to personal connections, the author's involvement is CRITICAL to a book's (and writing career's) success.

Follow me....

I threw a baby shower this weekend. Two gifts stood out to me. One was a group of bibs, burping cloths, etc that had been handmade by a young executive who did baby crafts on the side.

The other gift came in a zebra-printed box with hot pink ribbons and flowers. A "bling box" as the creator called it. The items inside were too precious. Personalized with the baby's name, thing after thing was pulled out to everyone's amazement. I'd buy a "bling box" with similar items for my pets, for every baby shower I ever attend, and even for birthdays, etc. The stuff inside was simply toooo cute. Especially if she packaged it all together and sold different themed bling boxes.

Now, the second gift (the "bling box") was definitely the most marketable of the two. I tried to encourage the creator of the "bling box" to make these things available, whether to a local boutique or even online. All she did was offer excuses about how she doesn't have time for that and already has a job, but it's what she REALLY wants to do.

The other gift, however, was designed by a busy mom with a job. And guess what? She has an etsy shop. So she's making money on these things, slowly building up her savings and her clientele to support her once she does this full time.

Which do you think will be more successful?

I share that because as I was chatting with the "bling box" maker, she kept offering excuses about how she can't do it but that she wants to. Once she has time, of course, she will do this full time, she said.

And it made me think of authors! It can be so easy to stay in "dream land" and say that you'll achieve all your dreams...once you have time.

But you have to make time NOW to do what is important, to build your foundation so you can stand confidently on it.

Here is a GREAT article that really illustrates what unfolded before my eyes this weekend. Go Ahead, Start That Side Business will change your perception of what is possible in your life.

Question: What dreams are you holding back on as you wait for "the right time"? What can you do NOW to start the ball rolling, and build your foundation so you can step out into your dream in confidence?


  1. I never expected to make a million from my book, but Tate's business model was different from what I anticipated. Question: does Tate aim for national distribution in every case, resorting to local/online when that doesn't work out, or does the latter comprise Tate's business model?

  2. Thanks for your post, Ian. I think you are misunderstanding the model. We achieve national distribution in every case.

    Are you referring to our marketing plan?

    If so, our initial efforts are focused locally, as that is the first step in building a larger marketing campaign. Any national publicity, events, and market response for a product comes only after the product has achieved success on a local scale. That doesn't matter what product you can't reach mainstream awareness until you have the foundation to support it (think of building your house on rock vs sand).

    For example, national television shows want multiple clips of someone on local or smaller shows before they will even consider bringing that person on as a guest.

    Bookstore managers in any area want to see a proven sales track record showing that there is a demand for the book before they will order the book for stocking on their shelves.

    So your comment about hitting national first then local is backwards. We hit the local market first, then as it develops we are given access to the national market.

    It's the law of Cause and Effect.

    But neither of those are distribution. All our products are distributed nationwide, and many are available world wide.

    Hope I answered your question!