The Writer's Mailbag: Installment Seventy-Nine
Happy New Year to You All
Are we still allowed to say Happy New Year? I never know and I didn’t receive the inter-office memo on that one. I guess I’ll risk it.
Thanks to you all for hanging with me again this year. Despite the fact that the pay sucks here at HP, I do love it, and the amount of my love for HP is directly proportional to the amount of love and respect I have for all of you.
Now let’s get it on with the last Mailbag of 2015.
Get on with It
From Manatita: “Well, perhaps you can motivate me. I have my Blossoms of The Heart Poetry just sitting there in numbers. I know what to do. But how do I stop writing and get on with it? One for next week. Peace.”
Manatita, the teacher in me would just say “get busy and just do it.” But the writer in me understands completely.
I am a human being first. I am a writer second. Anything other than those two fall way down my priority list, and that includes formatting manuscripts for ebooks, or marketing, or formatting manuscripts to Createspace, or…..well, you get the point. I just want to write. I don’t want to do all that other stuff.
So I do understand. My only words of encouragement are this: You write beautiful poetry. It is uplifting and it is loving, and this world needs a lot of that sort of writing. The longer you procrastinate the longer you are depriving others of the beauty you create.
Now, just do it! And peace, my friend.
Ebooks for New Writers
From Aesta: “It seems the magic of ebooks has gone after millions have been published and a number are not written well. There are some though that have made real success. When it engages readers, it will get promoted by the readers themselves. I wonder how true this is as I have no experience. Maybe those who have may make a more intelligent comment.”
Aesta, your concerns are real and realistic. A new writer…an unheard of writer….has a severe uphill climb in the writing business. In the writing world right now, you are a nobody. You could write the most incredible book known to mankind and chances are that book will gather dust because you are unheard of. Oh sure, good reviews will gain you a few more readers, but at some point the sales will wither and die on the vine.
I read a fascinating book a couple months ago, and for the life of me I can’t remember the name of it….”Write, Publish, Repeat” or something like that. Anyway, the point they made is nobody gets rich on their first book. Few get rich on their second. The name of the game is persistence. You make a little money on your first, a little more on your second, a little more still on your third, and you just keep writing and publishing. By book ten you are making decent money and seeing sales of the previous nine increase as well.
But that approach will only work if you write quality work, and it will only work if you have a marketing plan in place.
So, my advice to you this three-fold: Write well…..market well….and write many books.
The Personal Touch
From Bob: “I read this Mailbag every week, and one thing I am always struck with is your ability to make it seem like you are speaking to each one of us personally. How do you do that? I always feel like I’ve known you for years, and we are discussing writing over coffee, face to face. What’s your secret?”
Well, Bob, first of all, thank you. One of my goals when I started writing was to develop a “comfortable” voice. I wanted exactly what you described, so I appreciate the affirmation.
I was watching a YouTube video the other day of a famous author being interviewed. I could only hang in there five minutes because the author was a pompous ass and a bore. Sorry for the blunt opinion but it’s the truth. He was officious and he annoyed the hell out of me. He used these huge, obscure words to sound intelligent, and his opinion of writing was snooty and quite frankly he pissed me off.
If you were to see me on video you would know I’m the exact opposite from that snooty idiot. The way I write is exactly the way I would speak to you if we were having lunch together. This is me. There are no pretenses and no attempts to be something I’m not….and Bob, I think that resonates with people and I think they can relate to it. I have very few enemies, which is slightly surprising considering my years as an alcoholic and the damage I did during those years, but the fact is, I’m a pretty nice person. I’m compassionate and I genuinely care about people. I think that comes through, in person and in print.
So that’s how I do it….I allow all of you to see the real me. Does it work for everyone? I know quite a few writers who struggle mightily with this approach and finally just give up on it so no, it might not work for you.
But we’ll never know if you don’t try it.
New Year’s Resolutions for Writers
From Tabia: “I’m thinking of writing a list of New Year’s resolutions with regards to my writing. I have a ton of stuff I want to accomplish and I want to push myself to attain all those things. What do you think of resolutions for writers? Do they work?”
Tabia, it’s that time of year, isn’t it? What you call resolutions I call realistic goals. What do I mean by that and why do I make that distinction?
The problem, as I see it, with resolutions is that they are often unrealistic and that means we set ourselves up for disappointment and disillusionment….and that can lead to a writer quitting. The most common example I see is a writer saying that he/she will write two books this coming year plus develop a blog plus increase social media marketing.
That’s one hell of a lot to do and quite frankly, for most writers who also have real lives, it is almost impossible….and that leads to self-chastisement and self-flagellation, both of which are painful and should be avoided.
I sit down and write out realistic goals based on the reality of my current situation and my productivity in the past. This year I know I can write and publish one book for sure. I know I may be pushed to the limit to write three articles per week, so my goal is two. My goals are attainable given my current lifestyle, so I am not setting myself up for disappointment.
In other words, think and plan small, and if there is room for more, then go for it. Attainable steps are better than unattainable resolutions.
More Next Week
This is a little short by HP standards but oh well. Ask me if I care.
Have a great week and I wish, for all of you, a very Happy 2016.
2015 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)
“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”