This last week I’ve been emailed or PMed (personal messaged) by 4 different authors (all in various stages of publishing).
1 author- Writing her first book and wondering what she should be worried about: should she query an agent? Should she try to find a publishing house? Should she self publish? What should she do??
2 authors- Writing 2nd or 3rd or 4th book, not yet published (self or traditional). Wanting to know if they should give up, if their books are “good enough” because no agent or publisher is interested (yet) in their manuscripts. What should they do??
1 author- Writing 6th book, has self published the previous 5, but is unhappy with the level of success/notoriety of previous books. Wanting to know if she should give up? Wanting to know how to reach readers? What should she do??
I think (especially recently) I get at least 1 email a week like this.
First of all, I am humbled that these excellent humans and lovely women would come to me for advice.
Secondly, and sadly, I’m not sure I’m in a position to help anyone in a truly pragmatic, practical way. I have no list of action items to offer or silver bullet of success. HECK, PEOPLE!! I’m not even successful!!! (in the traditional, quantitative sense…) Yes, I’m happy and content with where I am in the writing troposphere, but I’m no NYT/USA today bestseller. If you’re looking for traditional success, maybe go hit up a NYT bestseller. 🙂
Of note, my definition of traditional/quantitative success = hitting the NYT or USA today with a full priced (single author) novel more than once (more than just 1-week). This definition is *my* definition of traditional/quantitative success and I have no wish to apply it or force it on anyone else. It’s my opinion. MINE! So… just chill.
Back to my point, I feel like I have very little to offer other than explaining what I do and why I am happy in my comfy corner of obscurity. But, since I’m asked often, I wanted to make a general post regarding my perspective.
If you ask me what you should do, I will tell you: You have to write because of you, because of your love for it. You have to tell the story you *must* tell, and not because you want to achieve a level of quantitative (or qualitative) acceptance or success. Be weird, be you, be unique, be original. Not everyone will love your stories. But that doesn’t matter. Be true to who you are, be invested in growing and learning and improving– without compromising your vision or your voice. Have a desire to be excellent at your craft. Be that.
If you ask me if you should give up, I will tell you: If you want to give up because you don’t love the words, give up. If you love writing for the joy of writing, because you want to be excellent and have a love for the craft and the art of telling a story only you can tell… then don’t.
If you ask me how to find more readers, I will tell you: Focus on the readers you have. Thank them. Interact with them. Enjoy them. Stop looking over their heads for more readers.
If you ask me what 1-thing will bring you more “success”, I will tell you: Write more books. But don’t write books you think people want to read. Write the story you want to tell.
If you ask me how to interact or establish relationships with other authors, I will tell you: Read books, tell authors how much you love their books, advocate for them, AND EXPECT NOTHING IN EXCHANGE!!!! NOTHING!! This world is not a tit-for-tat world. Don’t expect anything. Just be a good person. Just be nice. Just be cool. Just relax. Be yourself.
|The two Penelopes are judging you for not being nice.|
So… there you have it. That’s my advice.
Write. Love to write. Thank your readers. Want to improve. Be nice. Write some more.