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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Does Having A Second Job Make You More Focused To Write?

I have just returned from an amazing holiday in New York. I spent a whole blissful week there and I could not have enjoyed myself more. Okay, maybe the weather could have been a little warmer. The temperatures were at or below freezing most days and it snowed a couple of times but that did not stop me from making the most of my time in the city I have wanted to visit for years.

During my stay I was far too busy to write. However, I did take my pad and pens just in case inspiration struck. But the more I got into my holiday the more I thought I deserved my well earned rest. Usually I work seven days a week doing one of my jobs. I now have three and that includes my writing. And I have found that having these two other jobs makes me more focused to write.

I have always loved writing and view that as my top priority. Everything else in my life just comes second best. I work my other two jobs as a way of making money to supplement my writing career - a way to pay for an editor while making sure I still have money to feed myself and my beloved dogs. Until I earn enough money from the sales of my books I know I have to carry on doing this. But even if I didn't have to work, I would still want to do something else as well as write. I have found that writing alone just isn't enough to satisfy my needs. I end up writing all the time and then eventually run out of things to say. If I just had writing in my life I wouldn't have a proper balance.

While on holiday I noticed the Americans are far more work orientated than the English. They would think nothing of having several jobs and still find the time to write. I admire this mindset very much as I've always been a workaholic myself. The Americans work far longer hours than we do in England and have less holiday time as well. If we think we have it tough in this country, the Americans have it far worse.

But the Americans are also well known for being efficient and organised. They are great communicators and have a constant drive for improving services. They also seem to be constantly pushing their businesses to find out how they can make more money while also benefiting everyone else.

So I'll leave you with this interesting thought: Does having a second job make you more focused to write? I know I have plenty of American followers so I'll be keen to hear their thoughts. Do you think your nation is made up of workaholics and does this make you more focused on your writing career?

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Does Marketing Work With Just One Product?

Most writers are baffled with the concept of marketing. They want to do what they are naturally good at and that is write. But sensible authors realise they have to do battle with this extraordinary subject once in a while to actually sell some books. They blog, tweet, promote on Facebook and participate with LinkedIn discussions. And if they really have time and patience they will try to navigate their way round the complex maze of Goodreads.

Some new and naive writers think all they have to do is write just one book and they will become an instant bestseller. Although that might be true in some very rare cases, it is still the exception and most writers will slog away for years without any recognition. Because of this, writing is tough and it's not a business for the faint hearted or the commitment phobic. Besides, some authors appear to write their first best selling book and readers naturally haven't heard of them before. It's only after a certain amount of time that the writer will reveal they've been writing for the past ten years but no one has bought their other books. And it's this common way of thinking that tricks people into believing they'll only have to write one book to be famous.

A lot of writers will argue that before you try and publish or promote anything you have to have a decent backlist of books to release over a short period of time. They say this will ensure that readers will not forget you, and if they enjoy the first book they are naturally going to want to buy more from the same author.

But what if you're not one of these authors? A lot of writers just start out with one book to publish and promote. I suspect that writers with a large backlist were trying to get published the traditional way. And while they were waiting for agents and publishing houses to take them on they wrote more books. Then they decided to self publish these books and away they went.

Joe Konrath recently blogged about a similar topic. He said readers most often bought what was right in front of them whether it was their initial choice or not. If readers only have have a small selection of books to choose from, if they are determined to buy something they will pick one of these books. A year ago he also said that some types of marketing don't appear to work. And a lot of writers will agree that when they appear on a radio or television show to promote their books, sales are largely unaffected.

I'm not saying that marketing doesn't work. I'm saying that a large percentage of what we do as writers doesn't work. Of course some aspects of marketing will work but the major problem for anyone with a product to sell is knowing just what they have to do to generate sales when most marketing strategies just prove fruitless.

But another thing most writers seem to agree on is this and this may be the best marketing advice to date. The more books you write the more you will sell. This is just one basic law of Maths. The more books you write the more you will hone and polish your craft. The more books you write the better they will be. Dean Wesley Smith is a huge fan of this formula.

So keep writing. Do as much writing as you can and only then promote your work. Spend time promoting your books when you're busy collecting ideas for the next one. That is what I plan to do. I want to finish my fourth book (I'm currently writing my third). And then I will stop and have a rest and spend time marketing my current books.

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Were You Born To Write?

Two weeks ago I blogged about mental illness and creativity with the possibility the two were linked. To date that has been my most successful blog post and I was overwhelmed by the discussion it generated.

Now this post could be seen as similar as I am asking the question: Were you born to write?

A lot of writers I network with state this to be the case. The majority were writing fictional stories as soon as they could pick up a pen. And I admit I was one of them. Creative writing was always my favourite lesson and more often than not my teachers would end up reading my work to the rest of the class. The stories just seemed to effortlessly appear in my mind. I wouldn't even think about a topic  before the ideas came to me.

I suppose story telling and quick wit can be linked together as well. I know my mother is always complaining about the lack of her imagination. And she says she always tries to be quick witted like my father used to be but she fails miserably. Again, this is not a problem for me. Just like stories appear effortlessly in my mind so does the instant humour one needs to be quick witted. I obviously take after my dad.

This blog could also be linked with the topic: Can writing be taught? I blogged about that subject a year ago and that generated a lot of discussion too. Artists who can draw and paint seem to have a natural knack at it. Quite often they come from a family with similar traits. Writing is unlike that. Anyone can tell a story but whether the story is of decent quality is another matter altogether.

None of my immediate family are creative. I suppose my dad thought outside the box on regular occasions but he wasn't an artist of any description. I have some distant relatives who can paint and write poetry but I can't do either of those things.

Tell me what you think. Can creative writing be successful if you aren't compelled to tell stories?